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Environment

Hurricane-Force Blizzard Takes Aim at New England, With Another Blockbuster Storm Possibly Coming Next Week

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An animation of forecast winds at about 18,000 feet. (Source: earth.nullschool.net) Note: Please see the updates below. Since I posted this on Sunday night, the forecast for the second round of storminess has already changed. As I'm writing this, a storm barreling down from the Great Lakes has approached the Atlantic coast near Washington, D.C. It's forecast to start marching northeast toward New England tonight into Sunday. If it sets up as expected, parts of New England could well get walloped by a hurricane-force blizzard. I'm not using that word lightly. The forecast is for hurricane force winds by Cape Cod:

[Max Wind Gusts] An updated graphic now shows the forecast (& hurricane force winds) over the waters. pic.twitter.com/BojawkbKWQ — NWS Boston (@NWSBoston) February 14, 2015

You can get the blow-by-blow details via the Twitter feed of the National Weather Service in Boston. So I thought I'd put the emphasis on a couple of visualizations. I created the one at the top of this post to show the forecast progress of the storm. The animation highlights winds at about 18,000 feet up. Follow the blue splotch starting in the Great Lakes to track the progress of the storm. The reddish-magenta streaks indicate the position of the jet stream. The animation ends with the forecast for 9 a.m. EST tomorrow (Sunday). New England has, of course, already experienced an absolutely mind-boggling amount of snow, with Boston possibly headed for its snowiest winter ever. | Update 2/14/15: According to the National Weather Service, Boston has reached its snowiest month on record with 45.5 total inches. The old record was 43.3 in January 2005. | And here's the thing: As this second visualization shows, ANOTHER storm could be headed this way by the middle of next week. |Update 2/15/14, 6:30 p.m. EST: The forecast has already changed since I posted the graphic below. Indications now are for the storm to drop five or more inches of snow on the Washington D.C. area Monday night through Tuesday morning, with 1-3 inches in Boston. But if the storm jogs a bit to the west of its current forecast track, New England could take a bigger hit. Stay tuned...|

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I created the animation above to show the forecast movement of weather systems over North America between today and next Wednesday. The animation starts with the current storm system — marked with an "L" designating low pressure — diving down out of the Great Lakes, heading out to sea and cruising northeastward off New England. The blue indicates snowfall. As that storm heads up into Canada's Maritime provinces, look down toward Oklahoma and Arkansas. See that splotch of magenta color blossoming there? This is mixed precipitation that is forecast to start on Monday morning. (And it's mixed because of cold temperatures — yes, this far south!) Now, follow its development and movement to the east and then up the Atlantic coast, forming a storm that heads toward New England. Again. As Bob Henson, a meteorologist and science writer with the Weather Underground, describes it:

This system may congeal into yet another bombshell nor’easter later in the week, perhaps accompanied by another shot of frigid air on par with this weekend’s, although uncertainty remains high at this point.

That uncertainty is important to keep in mind! And let's hope nature decides to embarrass the weather forecasters by sending whatever develops farther out to sea.

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