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Blizzard Potential For Friday & Saturday

7am EST Thursday Update:


No major changes to our forecast for this weekend. All eyes are on this significant Winter Storm that is forecasted to move into the region as early as 8am Friday Morning.


Widespread heavy snow and impressive snowfall accumulation in the double-digit range, blowing/drifting snow, reduced visibilities and whiteout conditions, very dangerous travel, power outages, and bitter cold expected.


There are 2 main things that we don't yet know. First, whether or not wind speeds will be sustained over 35mph for long enough during the time of the highest "light/fluffy" snowfall rates to warrant the issuance of Blizzard Warnings due to significantly reduced visibilities. Regardless of whether or not a Blizzard Warning is issued, there will be times, without a doubt, when blizzard conditions exist. Second, similarly to the last system, we are faced with the likelihood of some mixed precipitation or a brief change over to all rain for portions of the area. If this occurs, the areas that see rain will see total snow accumulations dampened by a few inches or more before the rain changes back over to all snow by Saturday.


Regardless of the aforementioned uncertainties, weather conditions will rapidly deteriorate for much of the area by Friday afternoon and will continue through much of the day, if not all day, on Saturday. During this time travel will become very difficult to impossible, especially during the Friday afternoon and evening commutes, and we expect widespread school closures and scattered business closures on Friday in anticipation of these dangerous travel conditions.


Aside from the travel impacts, the other concern that is also of note is the potential for scattered power outages and tree damage due to strong winds ranging from 35-50mph from Friday into Saturday. Obviously, power outages during the winter are never a good thing. Get prepared now, ensure your devices are charged, you have flashlights and extra batteries, food/water, have a way to stay warm, ensure generators are being used outdoors and in a well-ventilated area, avoid the use of candles, and check in on friends and loved ones. Bitter cold will move into the region no later than Saturday night with wind chills reaching into the single digits and sub-zero ranges. Any remaining power outages will have a high life-safety risk, especially for the vulnerable populations in our communities,a s concerns for hypothermia and other cold-related health effects emerge.


While snowfall totals will likely be very impressive, as aforementioned, the one thing I always stress in messaging for these types of systems is that, at some point, it doesn't matter if you're location sees 6 inches or a foot, the real concern is the potential for blowing and drifting snow and the significantly reduced visibilities that result.


Bitter cold and continued travel impacts from lake-effect snow showers are expected to continue through mid-week next week.


Have a way to receive weather alerts, we expect warnings to go out later today or tonight, once warnings are issued make your final preparations and then get off the roads and make plans to avoid travel and hunker down until this storm has passed.


Our next update is expected this afternoon/evening as we release our latest School Closing Outlook and will likely opt to provide an update to this discussion as well.

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