Storm expected to drop a foot of wet snow in region

An early snowstorm in February blanketed Nashua. The city is bracing for more snowfall with predictions of at least a foot of accumulation.

NASHUA – Today’s snowstorm is set to hit the Nashua area sometime mid to late morning, and “the entire state is going to see nearly a foot of snow,” according to Margaret Curtis, meteorologist from the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine.

She said as far as Nashua goes, the city is in a “hot spot” with 12 to 18 inches of snow predicted.

With snowfall set to start sometime around 10 or 11 a.m., Curtis says the more significant accumulation will take place during the evening commute, painting a different story on the pavement of the roadways traveled by many on their drive home from work.

“In the evening, when people are heading home – in the 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. range – the heavy snow will get going,” Curtis said.

Overnight snowfall could accumulate at an inch or more an hour. Curtis said snow plows may have trouble keeping up. The heaviest snowfall is expected to occur tonight into Thursday morning.

However, Doug Webster, senior meteorologist at Hometown Forecast Services in Nashua, said that it’s tough to call how much total snow Nashua will receive. According to the trends in the models he’s analyzed over the last day or so, he’s seen things get a little milder with each run. He said it’s even possible that Nashua could see a mix of snow and rain tonight, with the snow line not far from the area. He did stress that any snow the area does get will be of a wet consistency.

On Tuesday afternoon, Webster predicted less than National Weather Service meteorologists.

“I think the idea of getting 8 to 12 inches of snow is best to go with right now,” Webster said.

Although the models he looked at show less snowfall, 12 inches is speculated for Greater Nashua with the threat of the wet snow sticking power lines and tree limbs.

“It could be wet snow, which means power outages are a possibility,” Curtis said. “So, people should be prepared for that and plan their travels to avoid heavy snowfall times, if at all possible.”

Although Webster says this is typical New England weather for the time of year, he agrees with Curtis regarding the potential for loss of power.

“These types of storms are common in the spring, with snow being wet and pasty, and there could be the threat of power outages (tonight),” Webster said.

Aside from the possibility of power outages, and being somewhat near the rain/snow line, the storm also brings with it wind speeds that Webster predicts will reach 30 to 35 mph in Nashua.

“Once we get to about sunset through midnight, or a little after, the snow is going to come down hard and heavy,” Webster said. “If it wasn’t so wet and pasty I’d say 1 to 2 inches an hour. But with it being wet we might only get an inch an hour. In areas to the west, definitely 1 to 2 inches an hour, and 2 to 3 inches an hour can’t be ruled out with places out there.”

He said the Monadnock region may receive the highest amounts of snowfall because of the elevation. He said places that have a higher elevation may have less wet, pasty snow and instead get a drier snow that piles up more.

“Snow may stack up more in Peterborough, Dublin, Jaffrey and those areas, where the potential there is 12 to 18 inches,” Webster said.

However, he also said if the temperature is a degree or two lower in the Nashua area that we’ll be seeing that couple inches an hour sort of a snowfall.

“It’s a tough call,” Webster said. “I’m thinking the temperature will be about 33 degrees during the storm, but if it’s 32 degrees or 31 degrees that makes a world of difference in snow consistency, causing it to stack up more.”

The heaviest snowfall will be done by daybreak Thursday morning, with the chance of some snow in the air during the day.

By Thursday morning, Webster said, “The storm is going to get into the Gulf of Maine and slow down, and be one of those cold blustery days.”

Adam Urquhart can be reached at 594-1206 or aurquhart@nashuatelegraph.com.