Saturday Nor’easter Updates – Blizzard Conditions, Gusty Winds
Saturday's nor'easter is playing out as forecast with heavy snow, gusty winds, and blizzard conditions.
The snow started to turn heavy around 8 a.m. on Saturday morning with the heaviest bands of snow expected late in the morning and into the afternoon, National Weather Service meteorologist Greg Cornwell told Seacoast Current.
"Everything's pretty much on track for the Seacoast with a general 12-18 inches, and near the immediate coastline maybe a little bit higher than 18 or 19 inches. We're expecting blizzard conditions. It's an all day event," Cornwell said.
Snow could fall at a rate of 1-2 inches per hour during the worst of the storm, as the wind picks up speed.
A Blizzard Warning is in effect until 6 a.m. Sunday for the immediate coastline, as winds will be well over the criteria of sustained winds of at least 35 mph for three hours or more. The other criteria is that visibility has to be under a quarter mile or below for three hours or more.
Hampton Deputy Police Chief Alex Reno told Seacoast Current that Saturday morning's high tide brought some high water on Route 101 approaching the beach.
"Highland Avenue area is flooded out right now and impassable. That's the only roadway that's really closed right now. Other high water areas are High Street and Ashworth Avenue with some spray coming up over the wall a bit, but nothing major," Reno said just before 9 a.m.
Here's what to expect from the nor'easter:
- Snow: 12-18 inches for all areas, with snowfall lasting until late Saturday night with an inch or two more along the immediate coast. Snow could fall at a rate of 1-2 inches per hour.
- Wind: Strong northeast winds will gust to at least 50 mph on the immediate coast and 35 mph inland, causing blowing and drifting snow.
- Tides: Tides are in a low astronomical cycle, which will lower the threat of coastal flooding.
- Wind Chill: The wind will combine with bitterly cold temperatures in the 20s along the coast and the teens inland, to create a wind chill of 0.
Department of Transportation Commissioner Victoria Sheehan said intense bands of snow, strong winds and blowing snow will create dangerous driving conditions.
"Please, if travel is not essential, stay home and allow our crews to clear roads. For those of you who absolutely must travel, allow yourself plenty of time. Leave ample space between your car and others. Go slow, driving for conditions, and never crowd our plows," Sheehan said.
What's a Bomb Cyclone?
The term "bomb cyclone" is being used to describe the storm, but Cornwell said that most nor'easters could use that term.
"All it is that the storm deepens more than 24 millibars in 24 hours. This one's expected to drop roughly 40 millibars in 24 hours. It's just a threshold for a rapidly strengthening storm," Cornwell said.
Many towns have parking bans in effect on Saturday and Sunday to allow for the removal of snow. The state's COVID-19 vaccination and testing centers are closed on Saturday, as is the Mall at Fox Run in Newington.
- Amesbury - An on-street parking ban takes effect at midnight late Friday/early Saturday and ends at 7 a.m. on Sunday.
- Dover - A citywide parking ban will be in effect from 8 p.m. Saturday until 10 a.m. Sunday. A downtown parking ban starts at 10 p.m. Saturday and will be in effect until 10 a.m. Sunday.
- Exeter - A parking ban is in effect starting at 6 a.m Saturday and is in effect until 8 a.m. Sunday
- Hampton - No on-street parking or parking in any public way from 1 a.m. Saturday until 3 p.m. Sunday.
- Newburyport - A parking ban takes effect at 6 p.m. Friday until further notice.
- Newington - The Mall at Fox Run is closed.
- Portsmouth - All recreation facilities including the Senior Activity Center, the Portsmouth Public Library, and the Recycling Center are closed.
- Portsmouth - A snow parking ban is expected to take effect at 1 a.m. Saturday. A special parking rate will be in effect.
- Salisbury - The recycling center is closed on Saturday and will instead open on Monday from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m.
- Somersworth - The public library will be closed on Saturday.
- Somersworth - A citywide parking ban in effect (including downtown) from 1 a.m. Saturday until 10 a.m. Sunday.
- Mass. RMV Road tests for Saturday will be postponed.