There are still questions about how much snow will pile up and how extreme winds will get.
“This storm is likely to strengthen at a rate, and to an intensity, equivalent to only the most powerful hurricanes, so the high-end potential of this storm cannot be overstated. But with nor’easters, like in real estate, it will all come down to location, location, location,” Miller said.
“Well, the average model error at this time range (3 days out) is over 150 miles! For example, where will the rain/#snow line setup? 150 miles could range from Cape Cod, MA to New Haven, CT. Hence, still too early.”
Both forecast models predict this strengthening, but their storm tracks up the East Coast are different, changing what people could expect from Washington, DC, to Boston.
“For those that have been following along, I know you’ve heard it repeated to death, but the key message continues to be the same: guidance is trending favorably for a big storm, but the exact track remains uncertain,” the Boston office said. “This track is what will tell us exactly where the greatest snow, wind, and coastal flooding concerns are.”
Blizzard conditions, coastal flooding are on the table
While it’s too early to pinpoint exact totals, it looks like the storm will hit all metro areas along Interstate 95 from Virginia to Maine starting Friday and through the day Saturday. Philadelphia, New York and Boston could get a foot of snow — or much more.
Winds of 50 mph or more are likely throughout the Northeast, with even higher gusts possible, especially along the eastern coastlines. These strong winds combined with snow will create blizzard conditions.
A blizzard happens when snow combines with winds gusting over 35 mph for more than three hours and creates visibility of less than a quarter of a mile.
“Significant coastal impacts are possible in the Northeast, including coastal flooding and beach erosion,” the prediction center said.
The stronger the storm, the greater the surge of water along the coast will be. Timing also matters a lot.
“Coastal flooding is a concern thanks to astronomically high tides on Saturday,” the Boston weather service office said. “The combination of strong northeast winds and high seas will bring storm surges that, if coinciding with high tide, would lead to minor or moderate coastal flooding.”
The difference in storm timing — even as few as six hours — would make a massive difference in impact on coastal flooding and erosion concerns.
One thing is sure: Meteorologists will be glued to computer forecast model runs all day Wednesday.
“Today’s trends will certainly be important,” the weather office in Philadelphia said. “Sampling will be steadily improving, and ‘big picture’ model solutions should start converging in the next 12 to 24 hours.”
In layman’s terms: We will know more details Thursday.