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Forecast

A major nor’easter will likely arrive in New England Saturday

Ana Matos used a ladder to clean her car after 20 inches of snow was deposited by a nor'easter in 2021.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

Big snow storms are a part of living here in southern New England. And although we don’t see them every year, when we do, they create a sense of wonder — and also bring the whole region to a temporary standstill. It’s been nearly a week since our computer guidance started to advertise the possibility of a major winter storm, and now that we are about two days from the heaviest of the snow, it continues to look like most of eastern Massachusetts will be hit quite hard. A Saturday storm is less stressful in general — just have lots of hot cocoa ready!

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A European model shows a powerful nor’easter coming to New England on Saturday.Tropical Tidbits

Afternoon guidance showed the American model coming more in line with the other models, and it also forecasted a big snow event. The other models have been flashing the red lights of a major nor’easter for a couple of days, and that’s what I’m expecting. It’s less and less likely for the low pressure area to take a track farther east, and if it did all the maps and the impact of the storm would dramatically change. There is also a possibility of a historic storm with over two feet of snow. More on this scenario will come on Friday.

These snowfall estimates from late Thursday will likely be revised with new guidance and analysis as the Saturday storm gets closer.Dave Epstein

The American Model is also bringing in significant precipitation in the form of snow.Tropical Tidbits

After a sunny and cold day Thursday, Friday will be somewhat milder with temperatures just above freezing. It’ll be a good time to check the snow blower, move the shovel to the front of the garage, and think about what you’re going to do stuck inside for the day on Saturday.

It’s always perplexing to me why some people overstock with food and similar supplies. By Sunday afternoon, you’ll be able to go to the supermarket again.

The storm will likely get underway in the early morning hours of Saturday. I’m not fully confident about exact timing, but the bulk of the snow will fall during Saturday and into the first part of the evening. At times, it could snow one to three inches per hour, with thundersnow becoming a possibility. This window of heavy snow may shift a bit. Plan on an inch of snow having fallen by the time the sun comes up Saturday, and the final flakes will probably fall somewhere around midnight Saturday night. It’s going to be cold during the storm. Take a look at the map below for the middle of Saturday afternoon. Notice temperatures are forecasted to be near 20 degrees.

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It will be cold during the upcoming storm, and the texture of the snow will be light and fluffy.WeatherBELL

This means that the snow-to-water ratios will be quite high. If the temperature was 32 degrees when you melted the snow down, 10 inches of it would amount to about an inch of water, but at 20 degrees, that inch of water could pile up to 15 or 18 inches of snow. When you combine the cold temperatures along with the possible amount of moisture, there are scenarios where two feet of snow is possible if the track keeps the heaviest moisture over land.

The light nature of the snow should help limit power outages. The exception to this may be over Cape Cod and at the Islands, as well as portions of southeastern Massachusetts, where the snow will be heavier and wetter especially at the start of the storm.

The tide will be highest Saturday mid-morning with a smaller high tide in the evening.NOAA

Coastal flooding is going to occur, but how quickly the storm arrives and exits will determine how significant that flooding will be. I do expect that with such a large storm, there will be coastal erosion and some damage. Winds will be strongest right at the coast, with less but notable wind inland.

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The strongest winds from the storm will be offshore, but inland, they will be strong enough to create blowing and drifting snow.WeatherBELL

Flights in and out of Logan Airport are likely to be canceled on Saturday, and this could linger into Sunday as well. If we end up with the strongest winds forecasted, the airport could officially close for some period of time as it becomes very difficult to clear those runways. With the wind forecast to be so strong, blizzard warnings are a distinct possibility for Saturday afternoon and evening.

Next week, there will be a moderating trend in temperature, and the snow will begin to melt. It always does.