Posted by: pyeager | October 28, 2011

Dangerous October Snow Storm

By Paul Yeager, author of Weather Whys: Facts, Myths, and Oddities

The stage is being set for a rare, dangerous, and damaging major early-season winter snow storm in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic regions.

Here is a map with watches and warnings as of Friday afternoon, which looks more like a map you’d expect to see in December or January than October:

NOAA watches and warnings map

A significant accumulation of snow will occur over a large area from West Virginia and western Virginia to New England, with some accumulation of snow even possible along the highly populated corridor from Boston to Washington, D.C.

The heaviest snow will likely occur from parts of eastern Pennsylvania to interior New England, where a foot of very heavy, very wet snow will fall.

The dangers of the early season storm include:

  • Travel problems–even though the snow will not accumulate as effectively on the relatively warm pavement and ground of October as it would in the heart of winter, it will snow heavily enough in many areas for roads to become dangerous for travel, especially in regions where road crews are not yet prepared to deal with heavy snow.
  • Power outages and downed trees–any heavy, wet snow has the potential to cause downed tree limbs and power lines (typically, power lines are brought down by falling limbs), but this is especially true when the trees still have leaves on them, which is certainly the case over much of the warned area. Power outages might be the worst part of the storm.
  • Shoveling danger–this snow will be very slushy and heavy, so those with any type of health condition need to be very careful when shoveling the snow this weekend.
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