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Boston likely to see at least a foot and a half of snow Saturday, and storm could break records04:05
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Snowfall is forecast to be heaviest in eastern Massachusetts from an intense coastal storm. (David Epstein for WBUR)
Snowfall is forecast to be heaviest in eastern Massachusetts from an intense coastal storm. (David Epstein for WBUR)

A powerful nor'easter moving toward Boston could bring snowfall totals high enough to break previous January records, with more than 2 feet of accumulation possible.

The largest snowfall in January in Boston took place back in 2015, when we had 24.6 inches of snow; the largest snowfall ever in the city was President's Day weekend 2003, with 27.6 inches of snow. Those records may still be standing Saturday evening, but there's also a chance they are both broken.

Greater Boston will likely see between 18 and 28 inches, and some pockets could even see more than 30 inches where the heavier bands land.

Temperatures this morning are milder than yesterday by nearly 20 degrees, and it's a good chance to get out and prepare for the big storm before it arrives.

Low pressure moves up the coast on Saturday bringing wind, snow and some coastal flooding. (Courtesy TropicalTidbits)
Low pressure moves up the coast on Saturday bringing wind, snow and some coastal flooding. (Courtesy TropicalTidbits)

The large, intense storm will move up the coastline Saturday, bringing powerful winds at the coast. It looks as though we will see anywhere from 2 to 4 inches of snow fall per hour during its height. If this lasts for three hours, that puts down 6 to 12 inches of snow in a very short amount of time. This intensity means it will be impossible to travel and even plows will have to pull over and wait it out.

This heavy snowfall will occur from mid-morning through late afternoon. This is the time when travel is not recommended. Temperatures are going to be very cold during the height, allowing the snow to pile up with very high snow to water ratios.

Chris Besse, a spokesman for Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, also emphasized road safety.

"Many of our partners at Mass. [Department of Transportation] and the local officials, they'll be really focused on the roads and the heavy snowfall amounts. And really the best thing people can do there is to stay off the roads if they can tomorrow," Besse said. "Low visibility and blowing winds for an extended period of time can make whiteout and really dangerous travel conditions."

Forecasting the exact placement of heavy snow bands is a bit difficult, similar to forecasting a line of thunderstorms in the summer, but the favorite areas are just southwest of Boston and perhaps also a small area northwest.

A blizzard warning from NWS has been expanded west to the I-495/I-95 corridor.

The entire storm will wind down by around midnight Saturday and when you get up Sunday morning, it will already be clearing.

When you're outside cleaning up, you'll need to use a heavy coat and gloves because it is going to be cold.

Cape Cod is an exception, as temperatures will be in the 30s and snow will be heavy and wet. There may even be some rain on the outer part of the Cape, as well as Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. It is there that the snowfall amounts could end up a lot lower if the rain lasts through the middle of the day.

Cold air will be moving south toward Cape Cod during the storm Saturday. Notice temperatures in the teens in Boston and points north. (Courtesy WeatherBELL)

Coastal flooding will occur, but because of the fast-moving nature of the low pressure area, the height of the storm occurring at low tide and the fact that winds will be a little more northerly all prevent a major flooding event.

Coastal flooding is forecast to minor in Boston Harbor on Saturday. (Courtesy NOAA)
Coastal flooding is forecast to minor in Boston Harbor on Saturday. (Courtesy NOAA)

Power outages are possible, especially over Cape Cod and southeastern Massachusetts, where the winds will be strongest. Issues with power are less likely inland because the winds won't be as strong and the light nature of the snow will allow it to blow off the trees and wires.

When you get up Sunday morning, the snow will be over and it will be bright and sunny. The map below shows the percentage of cloud cover, which is forecast to be near-zero.

There will be an absence of clouds on Sunday as sunshine takes over with cold temperatures. (Courtesy WeatherBELL)
There will be an absence of clouds on Sunday as sunshine takes over with cold temperatures. (Courtesy WeatherBELL)

It continues to be chillier than average into Monday, before we get a moderating trend in the middle of the week. That may not last, however, with more cold air for the second week of February.

With additional reporting from WBUR News' Caroline Llanes

This article was originally published on January 28, 2022.

This segment aired on January 28, 2022.

Related:

David Epstein Twitter Meteorologist
David Epstein is WBUR's meteorologist.

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