Quiet and cool, then a midweek Nor'easter

10:15 AM, Nov 5, 2012   |    comments
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It's not often that "Crazy Man Carson" (I'm going to keep giving myself nicknames until one sticks) is hesitant to make a call on a big storm...but this midweek Nor'easter is giving me fits. The computer models disagree so violently, they would be right at home on the floor of The Jerry Springer Show. (Jerryyy! Jerryyy! Jerryy!) I will explain the two main scenarios still in play, and LEAN towards one a little later on in this blog. For now, let's talk about the next few days.

Today: We are kind of in the middle between an upper level low in Canada and a ridge of high pressure across the Great Lakes. So as a result we will be mostly dry (save a few upslope flurries in the mountains) but also fighting a lot of cloud cover. The combination of the clouds and north winds will keep temperatures WAY down. Look for highs only in the 40-45 F range for most. By the way, best chance of some sunshine will be during the afternoon along the coastline.

Tonight: Early clouds will give way to mostly clear skies by 9-10 PM. The clear conditions will allow temperatures to really plummet through the late evening/early morning. Look for lows in the 20s all the way to the coastline, with teens possible over the mountains.

Tuesday: High pressure settles in overhead so look for mostly sunny skies. Temperatures, however, remain cool with highs again ending up between 40-45 F.

Wednesday: An early sun gives way to rapidly advancing cloud cover from the south. We should stay dry for most of the day, but by late afternoon a developing Nor'easter will start impacting Maine directly.

And this is where it gets interesting:

As I alluded to earlier, the computer models present SUCH different solutions for this storm that I've been sorting through them all morning trying to find a reason to believe one more than the other. It's more difficult than average because typically I see something in one of the model outputs that doesn't make sense to me meteorologically. That makes my decision easier; I can then lean towards the other solutions and "throw out" the outlier. But in the case of this midweek Nor'easter, each scenario makes sense in it's own way...but clearly one is very, very wrong and another is much closer to reality.

Option 1: This is the NAM solution. A strong coastal "bomb" of a Nor'easter moves almost due north all the way to Cape Cod, MA before hooking a bit westward towards Maine. In this situation almost everyone would start with snow, but the rain line would quickly advance westward as warm marine air associated with the low pushes into Maine. (This is the same idea as a mid winter Nor'easter that crosses through Boston and comes "too close" to Maine to give us big snow, instead it ends up mixing with rain as warm air rides in) Snowfall would accumulate in the central and northern mountains of Maine but much of the state would end up with a cold rain and winds would be the bigger story.

Option 2: This is the Euro solution. The storm reaches its peak strength well to our south, down across the Mid-Atlantic. From there it takes an easterly curve, slowly weakening along the way. The key here is that the low NEVER makes it even as far north as CT, so the warm air associated with the storm system doesn't have a chance to push into Maine. As such this is a VERY aggressively cold and snowy solution. Everyone would start with snow and the rain/snow line would only push to say I-95, west of that would be all snow. To give you an idea of what we are talking about here, Portland would get 3-4" of snow, Fryeburg-6" and Greenville-7".

What Do I think?: Well, I think I hate this storm. More specifically I have lower than average confidence on my call. But I'll still make one: I like the warmer solution of the NAM...but not hook-line-and-sinker style. I think we will all start as snow, and warm air WILL invade from the east but it will stall out along the foothills. As a result I see accumulating snow a possibility from Fryeburg to Lewiston and then northeastward to Bangor. If you draw a line connecting all those points...you have my accumulating snowfall line- west of that you should be prepared for snow, with the most accumulation in the mountains. East of the line it will be a matter of how long it takes to change over. I think the coastline changes over pretty fast (2-3 hours of snow) with super warm "boundary layer" temperatures in place, but slightly further west, even 30-40 miles inland it will be more of a battle so the snow will stick around for a while before changing to rain by Thursday midday. By the way, the timing on this is precipitation arriving Wednesday evening and exiting by Thursday afternoon.

So that's how I see it for now. Certainly we will be able to nail it down better in the next 12-24 hours. So (cliche police), stay with us.

Twitter: Needless to say I'll be nerding it up with this one...@keithcarsonWCSH

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