The hype has started! Meteorologists all over the country are going wild with anticipation over what forecast models are showing over the next 2-3 days. No doubt you'll be hearing plenty, because after all, it's the northeastern states which are likely to bear the brunt of the first big winter storm of the season. A similar storm in North Dakota would be just another day at the news desk, with deflated footballs probably leading the newscasts.
This is one time a bit of hype really is warranted, because a lot of people should be aware of a potentially life-threatening winter weather situation. Of course, there's always the chance that an offshore storm could turn out to be a bust, but more and more this one is looking like the real thing.
This map is a forecast from the NAM model for Tuesday morning. The central pressure forecast of the low center in the ocean south of Boston is 28.80 inches and it's forecast to go even lower. That is blizzard territory, and it's quite likely you'll hear the term "bomb" or even the long version "bombogenesis" bandied about by weatherpersons and (especially) news commentators. They do love a good buzzword in the news business, even if the storm doesn't live up to the strict definition of the term. This one actually could.
This started out as a fairly innocuous looking Alberta Clipper storm, driving southeast from the northern states on its way to the coast. But this time the jet stream is going to provide an dynamic boost to deepen the low and eventually steer it near Cape Cod rather than quickly out to sea. Ocean waters will provide an additional kick for intensifying the surface low.
Blizzard watches - out already Sunday morning - include major cities Boston, Providence, Hartford, and (yup!) New York City. Other cities like Philadelphia and Albany are under a Winter Storm Watch. NWS offices in Boston and New York are using terminology like "historic storm" and calling for up to 2 feet of snow with wind gusts up to 60 miles per hour. Coastal Maine may ultimately get hit the worst Tuesday and Wednesday.
Hype? I can imagine the goods already flying off of grocery store shelves and long lines at gas pumps. But if I were living there, I'd take this one seriously and be ready to hunker down with my winter survival kit well-stocked. And lots of candles and batteries.
Even growing up in Wisconsin I've never been through a blizzard of that magnitude; I missed the Great Lakes storm of January 1978 because I was working out west. This nor'easter could potentially wind up rivaling the even more famous blizzard of February 5-7, 1978, the mother of all New England snowstorms. We'll know in a few days.
Down south we won't see much from this. Arctic air will not be involved, so all we'll get is a chilly, windy Monday with skies a bit cloudy at times. A few snow showers north of Atlanta in the mountains will be possible if the air temperatures can get cold enough.
Travelers can expect major inconvenience if trying to fly anywhere in the Northeast after Monday morning. Don't even think about driving up I-95, either. Will this one rank among the standard bearers for northeastern blizzards, or merely just one more of the kind they see every couple years? With the news outlets we have at our disposal today, we can all watch as it plays out.