Blizzard Warnings, Winter Storm Warnings, Winter Weather Advisories. A foot of snow? A few inches? Here are 10 things you need to know about this next winter storm.
1) Indeed, most of Maine will not see any snow from tonight/tomorrow's storm as the bulk of the storm will be simply too far south. With that said, it's the coastal counties that will see (buy Maine standards) a small amount of snow that could prove to slow things down a bit early Wednesday morning.
2) Winter Weather Advisories are posted for all coastal counties in Maine as well as Merrimack and Strafford Counties in NH. Rockingham County in NH as well as all of eastern central MA are under Winter Storm Warnings. The South Coast, Cape and Islands of MA are under Blizzard Warnings. But what does this all mean? Winter Weather Advisories are posted when a minor but disruptive snowfall is expected, resulting in delays to travel. Winter Storm Warnings are posted when higher amounts of snow will occur, causing major travel issues via automobile and air. Blizzard warnings are posted when wind speeds are forecast to be greater than 35 mph AND visibility is expected to be below 1/4 mile in falling snow or blowing snow for a period of at least three consecutive hours. Interesting to note that the National Weather Service definition of "blizzard" does not consider the amount of snow that will fall.
3) Snow will begin around 5-6pm across extreme southern Maine and spread northward steadily through the evening and night, reaching Portland around 7-8pm, Rockland around 8-9pm, and Bar Harbor around 10pm. Once the snow starts, it will begin to cover all surfaces, including roads very quickly because it's been so cold now for the last 24 hours.
4) The snow will last through tonight and well into the early daylight hours of Wednesday. Last flakes , for those that have snow) should fall around midday.
5) Final snowfall tallies will be in the 2-5" range along the coast. From a line roughly from Sebago Lake to the Maine Turnpike around Lewiston to Bangor to Princeton and points north of there, not much, if any snow will fall. Click here for our latest forecast.
6) With only about 1/4" of "liquid equivalent" falling (if this were rain, we'd receive only about .25" of rain from this system), why would some areas receive nearly 5" of snow? Once again, we refer to the rain/snow ratio, or more commonly, the "Fluff Factor." An average ratio would be 1" of rain to 10" of snow, or 1 to 10. Because of the extreme cold, however, this ratio becomes more like 1 to 15, or 1" of rain to 15" of snow. Therefore, 1/4" of liquid equivalent comes out to around 3.75" of snow.
7) This rain/snow ratio will make it relatively easy to shovel/plow. It will also be easy for the wind to move the small bit of snow around, reducing visibilities at times, even beyond when the final flakes have fallen.
8) While most of Maine will be spared the snow from this system, the storm will have major impacts on travel as far south as New York City. You are advised to monitor the Portland International Jetport and Bangor International Airport websites to check on the status of flights to and from these areas.
9) Perhaps the biggest impact the passing of this storm will have on Maine will be in the form of frigid temperatures and strong winds. As the wind shifts around to the north, additional cold air from Canada comes down into Maine, keeping temperatures in the single digits. Strong winds from the north will also make it feel much colder. Wind chill advisories and warnings are up throughout much of northern and central Maine as a result.
10) Mariners should use extreme caution through Wednesday. Gale warnings were posted through at least Wednesday afternoon and seas near-shore will be running 4-8 feet. Snow and freezing spray will keep visibilities down to well below 1/4 n. mi. tonight. Winds will gust to around 40 kts.