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With Snow Exiting New England, Freezing Rain Now Biggest Concern

By Terry Eliasen, Meteorologist, WBZ-TV Exec. Weather Producer

BOSTON (CBS) –Bye bye snow, hello ice and rain.

You had to be an early riser to catch the snowflakes coming down. As expected, the change to ice and rain occurred between 4-6 a.m. and now it is all about the ice. In many ways snow is simpler – you snowblow or shovel it, and move on with your day.

When you get ice and rain on top, things get messy. Combine that with a flash freeze this evening and you have a real winter headache.

(WBZ-TV Graphic)

The freezing rain is by far our biggest concern going forward. All areas north and west of Boston, especially those north and west of Interstate 495, are in the crossfire for a large amount of sleet and freezing rain.

Sleet is not all that concerning, but freezing rain can be extremely hazardous. Freezing rain is essentially rain that falls and freezes as it makes contact with the ground level. The primary area of concern for freezing rain accretion is an area from Hartford, CT to Springfield into northern Worcester County and parts of northern Middlesex County, and also and into southern New Hampshire and Coastal Maine.

There is a risk of .10-.50 inches of ice accretion in this area. This will add a lot of weight to limbs and lines and increase the risk for power outages as the wind picks up behind the storm.

TIMELINE

There is an amazing temperature contrast in our region today and the cold air will eventually win out in the entire area.

(WBZ-TV Graphic)

Through 11 a.m.: Pouring rain in southeastern Massachusetts with an icy mix from Route 128 and all areas north and west.

(WBZ-TV Graphic)

All areas north and west of a line from Boston to Providence are now below 32 degrees

Through 2 p.m.: Heavy sleet/freezing rain continues, plain rain now falling in extreme southeastern Massachusetts.

(WBZ-TV Graphic)

All areas north and west of a line from Plymouth to Taunton are now below 32 degrees

(WBZ-TV Graphic)

Through 5 p.m.: Precipitation tapers off and colder air pours in. Flash freeze in all areas that were above 32. Now only the Cape and Islands are left in the “mild air.”

WIND

While winds won’t be real strong with this event, they will be just gusty enough to increase the risk of power outages. Two areas of greatest concern are Cape Cod and the Islands, will experience the strongest gusts (40-50mph) on Sunday morning/afternoon out of the south.

(WBZ-TV Graphic)

Later in the day, as the storm pulls away and colder air rushes in, the entire region will gust between 20-40mph, right through the night on Sunday.

(WBZ-TV Graphic)

Wind chill values will plunge as low as -20 to -30 degrees late Sunday night and during Monday morning.

COASTAL FLOODING

With the track of the storm now coming farther north, likely close to Boston, the coastal flood threat has lessened for a good portion of the area. The South Shore and Cape Cod will have winds out of the south-southwest, an offshore direction for many of the typical flood prone areas. South facing beaches on the Cape and Islands may experience some minor to moderate flooding.

(WBZ-TV Graphic)

Along the North Shore and particularly along the New Hampshire and Maine coastline, there remains a concern for minor to moderate coastal flooding. The winds in these areas will generally be out of the east-northeast on Sunday morning, a more typical direction for a winter time flooding event.

The only high tide of concern is on Sunday morning, peaking between 8 a.m. and noon. After this timeframe, winds will be offshore (west-northwest) behind the storm system.

FLASH FREEZE/BITTER COLD

The coldest air of the season will pour in here directly from northern Canada Sunday afternoon and night. The entire region will plunge well below freezing, making a glacier of all the precipitation that fell earlier.

(WBZ-TV Graphic)

By Monday morning, most suburbs will be in the single digits or below zero.

(WBZ-TV Graphic)

High temperatures on Monday will struggle to reach 10 degrees. Then, another frigid night Monday night, with many towns going back below zero and only a modest rise in to the low 20s by Tuesday afternoon.

Click here for Westford snow storm data and past totals or select “Winter Snowfall“ under “Pages” on the left hand side.

For more up to date forecast information follow me on Twitter (@terrywbz) or follow the WBZ weather team on Facebook, search WBZWeather