Winter Storm Neptune, Updates and More

Parts of four states are under a blizzard warnings as Winter Storm Neptune, now developing over the Great Lakes, prepares to deliver a bitter blast of high winds and snow to a swath from the Midwest to the Northeast, including parts of New England still struggling to recover from a series of major snowstorms virtually unprecedented in modern times.

Here are the key things you need to know about Winter Storm Neptune right now:

  • Neptune is already bringing snow to Michigan and northern Indiana, where winter storm warnings are in effect for areas including Grand Rapids and South Bend. Blizzard warnings go into effect Friday evening over parts of the Upper Peninsula, including Marquette.
  • In the Northeast, blizzard warnings have been issued for most of eastern Massachusetts, including Boston, as well as the New Hampshire Seacoast and roughly the southeastern half of Maine, including Portland.
  • Winter storm warnings are out for the rest of Maine and New Hampshire plus parts of southern New England (see inset maps).
  • Buffalo and Rochester, New York, are also under winter storm warnings.
  • New York City and Philadelphia are under winter weather advisories for a combination of light to moderate snow and strong winds, which could lead to near blizzard conditions in those areas despite much lighter snowfall than New England.

Winter Storm Neptune’s impact will be magnified by a large field of strong winds, even in areas outside the heaviest snow, and a sharp drop in temperatures that will lead to dangerously low wind chills in the wake of the storm.

This comes on the heels of an almost three-week snow siege that has smashed records in parts of New England, including Boston, Worcester and Bangor. Much of that snow is still on the ground due to a prolonged cold snap, and that snow will compound the misery from this storm as Neptune’s winds blow not only the new snow, but snow already on the ground.


Winter Storm Neptune Timing

Those in the Northeast probably know this drill by now. Low pressure racing southeast out of the Great Lakes will transfer its energy to the Atlantic coast, spawning a new low-pressure center that will quickly intensify off the Eastern Seaboard Saturday night into Sunday.

The closer the low tracks to the coast, the more wind-driven snow may fall later Saturday into Sunday in New England. If the low intensifies farther offshore, more of the significant snow will remain offshore.

However, the last several rounds of model forecasts have locked in on a storm track close enough to bring heavy snow and strong winds to at least coastal New England. Here’s our latest forecast timeline:

Friday night: A band of snow, briefly heavy, will sweep through the Great Lakes from Michigan and northern Indiana across northern Ohio into western parts of New York and Pennsylvania. Behind it, lake-effect snow bands will develop off Lakes Michigan and Superior, affecting parts of Michigan and northern Indiana.

Changing wind directions will prevent huge lake-effect accumulations in any one spot, but strong winds will lead to blizzard conditions developing along the Lake Superior shoreline of Upper Michigan. Whiteout conditions are expected in open areas of western Lower Michigan along and west of U.S. Highway 131.

Saturday: A band of light to moderate snow spreads across the Northeast as the arctic front advances. Blustery west to northwest winds will spread eastward behind this front. Snow is possible from the Appalachians and Virginia north to New York state and much of New England by afternoon (see inset maps).

Saturday night:  Heavy snow and increasing wind in New England, particularly near the coast from Maine to southeast Massachusetts, as low pressure intensifies explosively offshore. Snow and wind also farther west over the Hudson Valley, NYC metro, central/western New York, northern Pennsylvania, at least northern New Jersey. Farther south from southern New Jersey into the Mid-Atlantic states, snow will be limited but very strong north to northwest winds will develop, especially in coastal areas and around Chesapeake Bay.

Sunday:  Heavy snow and high winds in eastern New England. Wind damage is expected in some coastal areas. Snow winds down farther west. Strong, gusty winds remain a concern across much of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic coast, even in areas where snow stops falling.

Sunday night: Snow may linger in Maine, but should taper off elsewhere. Significant blowing/drifting snow continues over much of New England.

Behind the arctic front and intensifying offshore low, bitterly cold air will settle in, driven by strong winds, leading to dangerous wind chills.

Temperatures may remain stuck in the single digits or, at best, teens much of Sunday in New England, with lows in the single digits above or below zero by Monday morning.

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Meredith Little

World News Journalist from Dublin, Ireland. Meredith has been with the Pluto Daily since October of 2013.