Market Overview

Blizzard Could Slam Interior Northeast As Spring Begins

Blizzard Could Slam Interior Northeast As Spring Begins


Spring officially starts at 5:58 EDT tonight (March 20), but Mother Nature doesn't always pay attention to the calendar when it comes to weather. Also, winter often lasts longer in the Northeast compared to some other parts of the country, and it looks like this will be the case when a potential blizzard hits the region in a couple of days. The first weekend of the season may be a bit risky for truckers across the Northeast.

Creeping Up The Coast

An area of low pressure spinning near the mid-Atlantic states creeps up the coast into the Northeast on Thursday, "deepening" (getting stronger) along the way. Wet weather will slow down drivers on the I-95 corridor from Washington, D.C. to around Hartford, Connecticut. However, as a cold front approaches from the Midwest, things get more interesting Thursday night as the two systems come together.

Initially, rain will spread into interior portions of the Northeast on Thursday night, west of I-95. But as the colder air takes over, rain will change to snow from the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania to the mountains of upstate New York, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine. Meanwhile, the nation's capital, Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York City will gradually dry out, and wet weather moves to Hartford, Boston, Providence and eastern Maine.

Heavy snow continues for the interior Northeast on Friday, while the rain will mostly be confined to eastern Maine. Friday night and Saturday, as colder air creeps toward the I-95 corridor, light snow could fall from northern New Jersey to coastal Maine. All areas of snow will fade Saturday, but strong winds won't let up until Sunday as the storm moves into the Maritime Provinces of Canada.

Estimated high impact areas of Northeast storm

Estimated high impact areas of Northeast storm

Potential Blizzard Conditions

Early indications show snow totals of five to 10 inches will be common from upstate New York to western and northern Maine. The higher terrain of the Tug Hill Plateau and the western foothills of the Adirondacks could get hit the hardest. These areas, in addition to some pockets of the Green Mountains, could get 12 inches or more.

While a major blizzard is not likely, winds could be strong enough to technically call the storm a blizzard. According to the National Weather Service (NWS), a blizzard means that the following conditions are forecast to prevail for a period of at least three hours:

  • Sustained winds or frequent gusts of at least 35 mph; and
  • Considerable falling and/or blowing snow, reducing visibility frequently to less than a quarter mile

Snowfall will likely be coming down for quite a length of time. Winds may exceed 40 mph at times, not just for the interior Northeast, but in the big cities, too. For areas like New York City, Hartford and Boston, only a dusting to an inch of snow may stick to the ground. But if winds whip up just enough, there's potential for scattered power outages across the entire region. So, even a small-scale blizzard will cause problems.

Truckers could have a tough time with the northwesterly crosswinds hitting the I-95 and US-1 corridors, especially for those deadheading. Where the snow piles up, there's the added danger of not being able to see the road or other drivers in front of you because of the blowing snow.

Additional Threat

Rain could be heavy enough to cause minor flooding in parts of Maine, namely the following areas – the Central Highlands, Downeast (interior and coastal), the North Woods and the Penobscot Valley. Ponding on roadways and ice movement on some rivers are possible.
The NWS started posting winter weather alerts this afternoon, and more may be added soon. Check for updates on this interactive map, and look for weather updates on the FreightWaves website.

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(Photo: New York State Department of Transportation)

Posted-In: Freight Freightwaves trucking weatherNews Markets General Best of Benzinga


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