A major winter storm is expected to batter the Bay State for the next 24-plus hours.
The nor’easter, which is already starting to make its way across Massachusetts early Monday, is expected to spread from south to north in the morning. The storm will hit the state with as much as 5 to 17 inches of snow between Monday and Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.
Ahead of the intense storm system, the weather service has issued a series of warnings, urging residents to prepare for heavy and rapid snowfall, strong winds and potential coastal flooding.
Gov. Charlie Baker has told all non-emergency state employees to work from home Monday, noting he anticipates a travel ban to be issued on the Massachusetts Turnpike and urging residents to stay off the roads.
“Travel could be very difficult to impossible. The hazardous conditions could impact the morning or evening commute. Gusty winds could bring down tree branches,” the weather service said. “If you must travel, keep an extra flashlight, food and water in your vehicle in case of an emergency.”
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Timing of the storm
As it does for any snowfall event, no matter the magnitude, the weather service has published multiple maps on its website that show the expected onset and end times for the winter precipitation. Other maps predict precipitation totals and wind gust speeds.
According to the federal agency’s online maps, snow started falling as early as 2 a.m. Monday in the Springfield area and 6 a.m. in and around Worcester. The Cape and Islands began to see snow around 4 a.m., and Boston started to see precipitation at 7 a.m.
In the Berkshires, snow will begin to fall around 9 a.m. in Pittsfield and 11 a.m. in North Adams, the weather service said. Other areas in Northern Massachusetts, including Greenfield and Fitchburg, should have started to see precipitation around 8 a.m.
Snow will begin falling as late as 11 a.m. in Newburyport and Gloucester, according to the agency’s winter precipitation onset and end time maps.
The weather service predicts snow will fall at rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour, beginning in areas south of Interstate 90 by 10 a.m. to noon and areas north of the highway by around 2 p.m.
“Most of the very short-range models are a couple of hours behind this timing, so it is possible the forecast timing could be fast. But for now it looks good,” the agency noted.
There is an 80-plus percent chance that snow will fall at rates of more than an inch per hour along the Berkshires and from Rhode Island to Eastern Massachusetts between roughly 2 and 10 p.m., according to the weather service. Snowfall rates of 2-plus inches per hour are not out of the question either.
The winter storm is expected to come to a close Tuesday evening. By that time, residents will have seen as much as 2 inches accumulate on Cape Cod, 11 inches in Boston, 13 inches in Worcester, 6 inches in Springfield, 9 inches in Pittsfield and 11 inches in North Adams, according to forecasters. There is the possibility of higher amounts
The “dynamically active” part of the storm will move off the coast Tuesday evening through the Gulf of Maine and eastern Canada. However, precipitation will have become much lighter hours beforehand, transitioning from heavy snow to showers by sunrise due to a dry slot that will have moved into the state, officials said.
“In fact, there could be isolated freezing drizzle across the interior as we lose the ice crystals in the snow growth region,” the weather service noted.
When will it end?
In terms of snowfall end times, the heavy winter precipitation is expected to end between 7 and 4 p.m. Tuesday in the Berkshires. The Pioneer Valley, the Worcester area, Greater Boston and the Cape will see major accumulating snow stop falling earlier in the afternoon and morning Tuesday.
After the heavy snowfall winds down, sleet and a wintry mix of rain and snow are expected Tuesday through Wednesday, according to Alan Dunham, a meteorologist at the weather service’s Boston/Norton office. Some accumulations are still forecast, though, he noted.
“The worst of the storm is going to be the middle of the day today through midnight,” Dunham said. “It’s mainly light precipitation after that.”