Foot of snow could fall in region this week
Forecasters Monday said they were “increasingly confident” that large swaths of Massachusetts would be hit by another storm this week, socking the winter-weary region with strong winds and up to a foot of snow.
Snow will begin falling on Wednesday and will be heaviest from late afternoon into the evening before tapering off Thursday morning, state emergency officials said. Sleet may also be a factor.
Forecasters estimated that between 10 and 12 inches of snow could fall in southern Worcester, Middlesex, and Essex counties, Norfolk and Suffolk counties, and northern Plymouth and Bristol counties. Six to 8 inches of snow could fall between the Cape Cod Canal and the Connecticut River Valley.
The storm is expected to cause dangerous travel conditions and power outages along the coast, where winds could gust to 55 miles per hour.
Forecasters have spent recent days struggling to predict the storm’s path, largely because it’s unclear how strong a high pressure system over northern Ontario will be as the storm moves north.
“It’s going to snow in the Boston area, but the question is how hard,” said Brett Anderson, a senior meteorologist with AccuWeather.
Predictive models have shown different outcomes, but over time the variations have diminished to the point that it’s clear Greater Boston residents should prepare for yet another March storm.
There are more than 30 predictive models, Anderson said. Meteorologists in the United States rely most on the American and European models, which before Monday showed significantly different paths for the storm.
The American model had forecast a stronger weather system over the Canadian province, which would suppress the approaching storm and keep it farther south. That model now shows the storm moving more to the north than earlier versions had predicted.
The European model anticipates a weaker Canadian air mass, which would allow precipitation to track farther north, bringing snow to all of Massachusetts, Anderson said.
“People shouldn’t be shocked if they wake up Thursday morning and they’re shoveling several inches of snow,” he said.
Still, any light or moderate snow that falls during daylight is unlikely to amount to much, he said, because the sun is higher in the sky this time of year.
“You’ve really got to get the snow to come down in evening or at night, and you’ve got to get it to come down at a pretty good clip,” he said.
He cautioned that area residents should try to do any driving before 6 p.m., because roads are likely to get slick as night falls.
The storm could also bring strong winds and a storm surge that could cause further beach erosion and coastal flooding, Anderson said.
“The coast has been really hit hard this year, so it doesn’t take much to cause some pretty significant problems, more so than you usually would with a storm like this,” he said.
Another potential storm may arrive this weekend, Anderson said. But if it does, it might be winter’s last gasp.
“I have a feeling that may be the end of the snowstorms,” he said.