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Dave Epstein

A nor’easter could be headed our way, but it might not mean snow

The April Fools’ blizzard of 1997 was one of the largest snowstorms to hit Boston.Stan Grossfeld/Globe staff

This very cold March might be ending with a cold nor’easter, but don’t let the word “nor’easter” freak you out just yet.

A nor’easter is simply a coastal storm that brings northeasterly winds. It doesn’t mean we are going to see a lot of snow — or even a lot of precipitation.

The timing of this particular storm does give one pause, however. Twenty years ago, on March 31 and April 1, a nor’easter brought one of the largest ever snowstorms to Boston and much of eastern Massachusetts. The storm, which became known as the April Fools’ blizzard, still brings back memories for many New Englanders.



Late March and April storms can be very powerful and dangerous. This time of year, a snowstorm often has heavy wet snow, which causes tree damage and power outages. We don’t want a snowstorm this weekend with temperatures just over 32 degrees. That would mean a lot of problems.

After a wet start to this week, high pressure will take over Wednesday and Thursday, bringing dry and sunny weather along with seasonable temperatures.

On Friday, a storm will develop off the coast and start moving precipitation northward. At the same time, cold high pressure in Canada will keep enough cold air in place for the possibility of snow, especially away from the coastline.

Presently, the bulk of any storm would occur Friday night and Saturday morning. Precipitation amounts could be quite significant. A positive aspect of this system is that it has the potential to help with the drought.

There are still several days before we know all the details on how this system will affect southern New England. There is the possibility of more rain than snow, but also the chance of a significant snowstorm for parts of the area. It’s unlikely, though, that areas south of Boston along the coast and Cape Cod would see much snow.


Some of the models have snow amounts that are very high, others quite low. Be wary of forecasts the next couple of days, as some are just using big numbers for shock value. Let’s wait until we have some confidence in the forecast before we start buying bread and milk. In the end, it could just be a lot of rain.

The storm will end later Saturday and skies will clear for Sunday. It will be chilly Sunday as well with a wind from the north. Not exactly what one pictures for April.

You can follow Dave Epstein on Twitter @growingwisdom.