Friday's Snow Event Update
While we are one day closer to Friday's event, there is still plenty of uncertainty as a tricky system approaches the region. Models have been doing the classic flip-flop with solutions over the past couple of runs, ranging from a plowable 3 - 6" across the Northeast, to spotty snow showers and consequently only a coating - 1". A few things are becoming more certain; however, and will be discussed below.
First off, any talk you may have heard of a 6"+ storm can be thrown out the window as that is extremely unlikely. Secondly, the timing of the event extends from the latter half of Friday, into the start of the overnight. That leaves us with a 12 hour window for snow, and a range of 0 to 6 inches. Lets further break that down. At this point most data suggests a coating up to 4 inches, which nearly eliminates the 4 - 6 inch range (though we won't dismiss that just yet!). Since at 60 hours out thats as much as models can help us, lets looks at how similar patterns and events faired.
Examining these past storms, or analogs, we found a very close match from over 25 years ago! On January 29-30, 1986, a very similar storm brought light accumulations throughout the region. Interestingly enough, the storm came at the tail end of a brief arctic blast. Just as this Friday's storm will do, the disturbance entered the US from the Pacific Northwest before making its way to the East Coast. The storm began to draw energy from the Southeast US, however the low formed off the Mid-Atlantic coast a bit too late to produce a classic Nor'easter. The storm from 1986 can be seen in the top image, while recent runs of the GFS (American Model) and European Model are compared above. Using this info, with decent confidence we can say the most likely solution is a general 1 - 3" event from the Mid-Atlantic to Southern New England. Don't believe us? Here are some totals from our 1986 analog: