The coldest stretch in years (possibly since 2004) is well underway in Southern New England. The temperature will struggle to get out of the teens again on Thursday after starting the day in the single digits. The wind chill will hover near zero again on Thursday afternoon. All the while, the sky will be mainly clear as a large area of Arctic high pressure is centered over the Upper Midwest and sprawling eastward.
Thursday night will be nearly as cold as Wednesday night, with the temperature dropping into the single digits. If the wind dies completely, the temperature may plunge below zero away from the coast. Friday, although a few degrees warmer, will still be unseasonably cold, with highs in the low to mid 20s. Clouds will increase late Friday as a complex, developing storm system heads for the East Coast.
Tricky storm forecast Friday night
The developing storm is the combination of two areas of jet stream energy coming together within a few hundred miles of the coast. Exactly where the interaction happens will determine the strength and track of the storm as it passes Southern New England. Most computer models have the storm developing as it passes rather quickly well to the south of Nantucket Friday night. It would be close enough for some snow in Southern New England, but the heaviest would stay offshore, and the storm would still be in its formative stage as it passed by. Snow would begin Friday evening, and be steadiest shortly after midnight.
In this scenario where the storm is developing and moving quickly as it passes by, the snow would come to an end by early Saturday morning. The snow would be very light and fluffy – similar to what fell on Monday night. In this case, a glancing blow could still deliver a few inches of fluffy snow to the hardest hit areas – Cape Cod and the islands. the temperature throughout the event would be in the low 20s near the coast and teens inland. The wind would not be a major factor, with some 20-30 mph peak gusts on Cape Cod and the islands.
There are two other scenarios that are still in play regarding this storm. It is still possible that the storm develops too far south and scoots out to sea with little to no impact in RI and interior SE MA, and just a minor accumulation in far Eastern MA. It is also possible that the jet stream phasing occurs closer to the coast, allowing the storm to develop quickly and move closer to Southern New England as a mature storm rather than a developing one. If this scenario plays out, then Southern New England will be under the gun for a Nor’easter with 6+” of snow, and strong winds near the coast.