Forget spring showers, New England braces for fluke snowstorm

The snowstorm headed for the Northeast this weekend is a reminder that New England winters often hold a few last surprises.

Richard Hertzler/Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era/AP/File
Daffodils are covered with wet spring snow in Lancaster, Pa. in March 25, 2013 as a storm stretching from the Midwest to the East Coast buried thoughts of springtime weather under a blanket of heavy wet snow and slush. States in the northern part of the country are again experiencing springtime snow this week.

New England weather is flipping the old March adage, in like a lion, out like a lamb on its head. After an unseasonably warm start to the month, area residents are preparing to usher in spring with a snowstorm.

The storm will result from the interaction of cold air moving down from the Rockies, a gyre of low pressure coming in from the Great Lakes, and the jetstream plunging down from Canada. On top of all that, low pressure is expected to formulate and build either near or off the East Coast on Sunday and Monday, but it’s not yet clear where that center of low pressure will track.

If low pressure develops closer to the East Coast, moderate to heavy snow can be expected in most of eastern New England. If it’s farther out, residents of coastal New England can expect the heaviest snow.

"If the storm develops to its full potential, then a blizzard could evolve in part of New England," AccuWeather meteorologist Bernie Rayno told USAToday.

The weather in New England has been unusually mild for the season. Boston missed out on the massive “Snowzilla” snowstorm that kept residents of Washington, Philadelphia, and New York buried under more than two feet of snow at the end of January.

While the region has experienced relatively warm weather this winter, the coming storm is a reminder that New England winters frequently hold a few last minute surprises. On April Fool’s Day in 1997, two feet of wet snow unexpectedly blanketed Massachusetts, despite the state experiencing spring-like weather just a few days before. The May storm of 1977 followed a similar pattern. The state experienced very warm weather throughout March and April, peaking in early May, before a blizzard dumped seven inches of snow on the region.

The details of when this year’s late-season storm will arrive, what it will bring, and how much, still remain uncertain. Some meteorologists are suggesting that it could bring heavy rains, which would portend urban flooding. Whatever it brings, it will no doubt be a fluke storm to remember.

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