Blizzard Warnings Issued as Winter Storm Stella Gears Up to Deliver More Than a Foot of Snow to a Widespread Swath of the Northeast
Stella will bring heavy snow and strong winds to the Northeast early this week.
Blizzard conditions are possible in some areas, and many roads could become impassable.
Strong winds may cause power outages and tree damage in parts of the Northeast.
Higher-than-average tides may lead to coastal erosion Tuesday and Tuesday night.
Stella will first bring snow to the Midwest through Monday.
Blizzard warnings have been issued for a part of the Northeast coast, including New York City, in advance of Winter Storm Stella which will hammer the Northeast with more than a foot of snow and strong winds Monday night-Tuesday. Stella will also deliver a swath of snow to the Midwest through Monday.
This major nor’easter will take shape as a strong area of low pressure develops off the East Coast late Monday in response to jet stream energy moving through the eastern states. That low may undergo bombogenesis as it moves northward along the coast through Tuesday night, meaning there will be a rapid drop in atmospheric pressure which indicates strengthening.
(MORE: What is Bombogenesis?)
Current winter watches, warnings and advisories
The National Weather Service has issued the blizzard warning from northeast New Jersey to far southeast New York and southern Connecticut.
Winter storm warnings are also in place across other parts of the mid-Atlantic and Northeast, including Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington D.C. In addition to the winter storm warning, a blizzard watch is in effect for portions of eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Storm totals of a foot or more are likely in a widespread swath of the Northeast region, which will bring travel to a standstill on roads and at airports. Strong winds could cause tree damage and power outages in the Northeast, as well. Thundersnow may also occur during the height of the storm Tuesday.
(INTERACTIVE: See Where the Snow is Now)
One trend in the latest forecast data is that the low may now track closer to the coast. That could cause some locations, including near parts of the Interstate 95 corridor, to change to rain or sleet for a time during the storm and cut down on accumulations where that occurs.
Below, we have the forecast for impacts in the Northeast followed by an overview of what to expect from Stella in the Midwest.
Stella’s Northeast Timing
- Snow will begin to develop in the mid-Atlantic region, including Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia, as the coastal low from Stella develops and intensifies.
- The snow could be heavy at times overnight with rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour.
- Locations near Interstate 95, including parts of the Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, could change to rain or sleet for a time.
- By late Monday night or early Tuesday morning, snow may develop as far north as New York City or southern New England.
- Light to moderate snow will also impact the eastern Great Lakes region.
- Travel should be avoided Monday night in all of the above-mentioned areas.
- A large swath of the Northeast will see snowfall, heavy at times, from Stella during the daytime hours.
- Snowfall rates of 1 to 4 inches per hour are possible near and northwest of the Interstate 95 corridor.
- Blizzard or near-blizzard conditions are possible in coastal areas.
- Road and airport travel are likely to be snarled across the region. Some roads may become impassable.
- Strong winds (gusts over 40 or 50 mph), and the weight of the snow could cause some tree damage and power outages.
(MORE: Timing the Heaviest Snow)
Tuesday Night – Wednesday
- Snow, heavy at times, will continue throughout much of New England Tuesday night.
- Farther south, snow will become lighter overall, but gusty winds will continue and contribute to blowing snow.
- On Wednesday, lighter snowfall and gusty winds will continue across the Northeast region, but the worst of the storm will be over.
- Cold temperatures will continue through Thursday after Stella departs, making for icy conditions on untreated roads and other surfaces.
How Much Snow to Expect in the Northeast?
Heavy snowfall accumulations are likely in the Northeast region from Stella, though the exact track of the low is still somewhat uncertain. Therefore, keep in mind the forecast totals shown on our graphic below could change depending on the exact track of Stella and its evolution.
The latest forecast guidance suggests the low will track far enough west to change some coastal areas to rain or sleet for a period of time. All snow is likely to the west of Interstate 95.
- A foot or more of snow is possible along and especially west of the Interstate 95 corridor from Stella, including Albany, New York, Boston, Hartford, New York City, Portland, Maine, Scranton, Pennsylvania, and Worcester, Massachusetts. It’s not out of the question that some locations may pick up 18-plus inches of snow from Stella.
- In portions of the mid-Atlantic, including Washington D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, the Delmarva peninsula and southern New Jersey, snow amounts are still somewhat uncertain and dependent on where the rain/snow transition line sets up. The best potential for a foot of snow is likely to be northwest of the Interstate 95 corridor in this area. Much less snowfall is expected for the immediate D.C. area compared to areas north of there.
- Snowfall rates of 1 to 4 inches per hour are possible during the height of the storm in the most intense bands.
- Blizzard or near-blizzard conditions, with wind gusts to 50 mph, may occur Monday night through Tuesday in the blizzard warning area.
- Poor travel conditions will also exist in other parts of the Northeast due to gusty winds causing blowing snow and low visibility.
(INTERACTIVE: Forecast Snowfall Tracker)
This may be the heaviest snowstorm so far this season in Boston and New York City, which saw 9.4 inches and 10.9 inches from Winter Storm Niko on Feb. 9, respectively.
New York City has seen 36 winter storms since 1869 that have produced a foot or more of snow, according to the National Weather Service. Just four of those storms have occurred in March, with the last to do so March 3-4, 1960.
(MORE: March Can Have Heavy Snowstorms)
Coastal Flooding Possible
Coastal flooding may also become a problem from the Delmarva peninsula and Jersey Shore to Long Island, Cape Cod and the islands Tuesday and Tuesday night as strong, potentially damaging winds from the south and east push water ashore in those areas. Tides on Tuesday may run 2 to 3 feet above average and coastal erosion is likely.
Wave heights on the ocean waters off the coast are forecast to range from 12 to 18 feet, with breaking waves of 6 to 9 feet at the shore, especially along the Atlantic-facing Delaware and Jersey beaches.
In addition, widespread flooding of vulnerable shore roads may lead to numerous road closures in coastal areas.
(LATEST NEWS: Winter Storm Stella Approaches New York City)
Stella’s Midwest Forecast
As mentioned before, Stella is also impacting the Midwest with light to moderate snowfall accumulations across a large part of that region through Monday.
Many cities in the southern Great Lakes will see at least light snowfall amounts of a few inches.
Lake-effect snow could continue in northeast Illinois and southeast Wisconsin, including Chicago and Milwaukee, into Tuesday. Locally heavy accumulations are possible in persistent bands of snow.
Chicago’s O’Hare Airport had picked up 2.2 inches of snow from Stella as of Monday morning, ending a record streak without an inch of snow cover. The Windy City last had an inch of snow on the ground on Christmas Day.
Below is a recap showing some of the top snow totals from Stella in each state for the Midwest as of late Monday morning.
Illinois: 5.8 inches in Colona, 5.2 inches near Moline
Indiana: 3 inches in Cedar Lake
Iowa: 13 inches in Ringsted, 8.8 inches in Waterloo
Michigan: 4 inches in Belleville
Minnesota: 12 inches in Currie, 6.5 inches in Rochester, 3.7 inches at Minneapolis/St. Paul Int’l Airport
North Dakota: 4 inches in Watford City and Ashley
South Dakota: 10 inches near Watertown, 9 inches in Aberdeen
Wisconsin: 10 inches near West Allis, 5.5 inches in Racine
Stella’s First Phase Recap: Snow Dusts the South
Parts of the South saw snow from Stella’s first phase Saturday into Sunday.
Up to 5 inches of snow was reported near Cave City, Arkansas, and 4 inches was measured in Paris, Tennessee.
Sunday morning, parts of north Georgia, North Carolina and northern South Carolina saw snow from Stella. Most of the accumulations were on grassy and elevated surfaces.