The first nor’easter of the season is set to form this weekend as it slams into the Northeast. However, this may not be the typical nor’easter you’d expect — rain will be more prevalent than snow since the seasons are still changing. Some areas in higher elevations will get to experience snow, but it will be all windswept rain at the coast.
An area of weak, low pressure is currently tracking east along the Gulf Coast, bringing heavy rains to the region. As a digging trough of low pressure pushes the low east, it will eventually move off the southeastern US coastline. This is when the low pressure will begin to deepen while energy from a secondary low over the Midwest transfers to our primary coastal low.
The track of this nor’easter as well as the placement of cold air is becoming more certain. This storm will be considered an “inside runner,” given the fact it will track north and west of the 40/70 benchmark, a set of coordinates that often determines the impacts from winter nor’easters. Typically in the winter when all the talk is about snow, if a storm tracks inside of the benchmark, snow falls inland while rain and mixing takes place along the coast and within the I-95 corridor. Now if the low tracks south and east of the 40/70 benchmark, then the coast normally just gets scraped by the lighter snow. But if the nor’easter tracks right over 40°N, 70°W, then you got yourself a nasty, classic nor’easter with heavy snow plaguing the I-95 corridor.
Again, it will be too warm for snow in the Northeast megalopolis. Regardless, heavy rain and strong, gusty winds which may knock out power will be the main issues. On Friday, the nor’easter will begin to form as the low pressure moves offshore. This will bring a widespread rain to the Mid-Atlantic and Ohio River Valley. As pressures continue to decrease, the pressure gradient will increase and therefore the winds will ramp up. By Saturday, rain will move into the Northeast, especially New England. Some snow will be possible in the highest of elevations of western and upstate New York as well as northern Vermont, New Hampshire, and western Maine. The best chance for this snow will be Saturday morning before the sun comes up, since this is when temperatures will be the coolest. Even a few flakes may be possible closer to the coast at the onset of the precipitation Friday night.
In terms of winds, widespread wind gusts of 40 to 60 mph will be present while isolated gusts will be seen around 65 mph. The best chance for winds of this magnitude will be along the Northeast coast as well as in the New York City Tri-State area. Again, isolated to perhaps scattered power outages can be expected, especially given the fact that the soil will become wet, making it easier for trees to come down.
In the areas where snow is forecast, generally 1 to 4 inches is expected with localized amounts near half a foot. Meanwhile in the rain-zone, a widespread 1 to 2 inches of rain is expected with totals possibly up to 4 inches in southeastern New England.
Once this weekend’s nor’easter clears out on Sunday, a secondary, weaker area of low pressure may form offshore, bringing another round of rain to parts of the region. Thankfully this will be a much weaker and less-organized low pressure, keeping winds on the lighter side. Some additional snow may even be possible, especially near the Great Lakes in New York.