While it’s still possible this it stays offshore and is a complete miss, new data coming in this afternoon supports the idea of a likely storm on Saturday. However, the type of storm will have a huge impact on how “big of a deal” this ends up becoming. It does appear that something will be falling from the sky; but this storm could end up being all snow, or a snow/sleet/rain mix.
We use many different computer models to forecast storms, and the European is one of the more reliable models when we are still several days away from the actual storm. Here is a snapshot of what the European model is forecasting for Saturday. The orange color represents liquid precipitation of .75″ to 1.o”. Assuming that the snow is not too wet, that could easily equate to 6 to 12 inches of snow.
But I am not completely sold on a big snowstorm just yet because temperatures may be borderline between snow, sleet, and even plain rain. Below is a forecast map right around the height of the storm; this is actually a snapshot of several thousand feet above the surface.
To get snow, you usually need all layers of the atmosphere to be below freezing. In the map above, the blue colors are below freeing (o° Celsius). Notice that this is a very close call. The freezing line seems to run right through Providence; this would give areas north and west of Providence all snow, areas south and east of Providence a messy mix, and Providence itself a toss up. Another complication is that if the precipitation comes down hard enough, it can essentially cool itself off to below freezing levels, even if the layer is initially above freezing.
Keep in mind, the above 2 graphics come only from one computer model, so we can’t lock in on just this solution. At this point, we know that this COULD become our first big snowstorm (6+ inches) of the season, but it could also end up a messy mix that give us no accumulation or just a few inches.
Timing: Based on current information, the storm would start on Saturday morning, but not become heavy until Saturday afternoon and evening…the worst would move out Saturday night. But unfortunately, timing is also subject to change. Please stay tuned as we get more information in the coming days.