Winter Storm Stella’s main event is underway as blizzard warnings cover parts of eight states in the Northeast, including New York City. Stella will hammer the region through Tuesday with more than a foot of snow and strong winds, leading to major travel disruptions at airports and on roadways.
This major nor’easter is taking shape as a strong area of low pressure off the East Coast, in response to jet stream energy moving through the eastern states. That low may undergo bombogenesis as it moves northward along the coast through Tuesday night, meaning there will be a rapid drop in atmospheric pressure, which indicates strengthening.
Blizzard warnings cover portions of eastern Pennsylvania, central/northern New Jersey, southeast New York, Connecticut, northern Rhode Island, western/central Massachusetts, southeast New Hampshire and southern Maine.
Winter storm warnings are also in place across other parts of the mid-Atlantic and Northeast, including Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington D.C.
Storm totals of a foot or more are likely in a widespread swath of the Northeast region, which will bring travel to a standstill on roads and at airports. Strong winds could cause tree damage and power outages in the Northeast, as well. Thundersnow may also occur during the height of the storm Tuesday.
The consensus among the latest forecast data is that the low is now expected to track closer to the coast. That could cause some locations, including near parts of the Interstate 95 corridor, to change to rain or sleet for a time during the storm and cut down on accumulations where that occurs.
Snow will continue to spread northward through early Tuesday and increase in intensity, leading to major travel problems with intense snowfall rates of 1 to 4 inches per hour developing in spots. It would be best to avoid all unnecessary travel as conditions deteriorate across the entire Northeast Megalopolis.
(INTERACTIVE: See Where the Snow is Now)
Below, we have the forecast for impacts in the Northeast followed by an overview of what to expect from Stella in the Midwest.
Stella’s Northeast Timing
- A large swath of the Northeast will see snowfall, heavy at times, from Stella during the daytime hours.
- Snowfall rates of 1 to 4 inches per hour are possible near and northwest of the Interstate 95 corridor.
- Blizzard or near-blizzard conditions are possible not just in coastal areas, but also in parts of eastern Pennsylvania, eastern New York state, Connecticut and western Massachusetts.
- Road and airport travel are likely to be snarled across the region. Some roads may become impassable.
- Strong winds (gusts over 40 or 50 mph) and the weight of the snow could cause some tree damage and power outages.
(MORE: Timing the Heaviest Snow)
Tuesday Night – Wednesday
- Snow, heavy at times, will continue throughout much of New England Tuesday night.
- Farther south, snow will become lighter overall, but gusty winds will continue and contribute to blowing snow.
- On Wednesday, lighter snowfall and gusty winds will continue across the Northeast region, but the worst of the storm will be over.
- However, lake-enhanced snowfall will continue in much of upstate New York, adding another several inches of snowfall on top of Tuesday’s snowpack.
- Cold temperatures will continue through Thursday after Stella departs, making for icy conditions on untreated roads and other surfaces.
Tuesday Night’s Forecast
How Much Snow to Expect in the Northeast?
Heavy snowfall accumulations are likely in the Northeast region from Stella. The highest totals are expected to be northwest of Interstate 95, especially in higher elevations such as the Catskills and Poconos.
The latest forecast guidance suggests the low will track far enough west to change some coastal areas to rain or sleet for a period of time. All snow is likely to the north and west of Interstate 95.
- A foot or more of snow is possible along and especially north/west of the Interstate 95 corridor from Stella, including Albany, New York, Boston, Hartford, New York City, Portland, Maine, Scranton, Pennsylvania, and Worcester, Massachusetts. It’s not out of the question that some locations may pick up 18-plus inches of snow from Stella, especially in the Catskills, Poconos and the higher elevations of western New England.
- In portions of the mid-Atlantic, including Washington D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, the Delmarva peninsula and southern New Jersey, snow amounts are dependent on where the rain/snow transition line sets up. The best potential for a foot of snow is likely to be northwest of the Interstate 95 corridor in this area. Much less snowfall is expected for the immediate D.C. area compared to areas north of there.
- Snowfall rates of 1 to 4 inches per hour are possible during the height of the storm in the most intense bands.
- Blizzard or near-blizzard conditions, with wind gusts to 50 mph, may occur through Tuesday in the blizzard warning area.
- Poor travel conditions will also exist in other parts of the Northeast due to gusty winds causing blowing snow and low visibility.
(INTERACTIVE: Forecast Snowfall Tracker)
This may be the heaviest snowstorm so far this season in Boston and New York City, which saw 9.4 inches and 10.9 inches from Winter Storm Niko on Feb. 9, respectively.
New York City has seen 36 winter storms since 1869 that have produced a foot or more of snow, according to the National Weather Service. Just four of those storms have occurred in March, with the last to do so March 3-4, 1960.
(MORE: March Can Have Heavy Snowstorms)
Coastal Flooding Possible
Coastal flooding may also become a problem from the Delmarva peninsula and Jersey Shore to Long Island, Cape Cod and the islands Tuesday and Tuesday night as strong, potentially damaging winds from the south and east push water ashore in those areas. Tides on Tuesday may run 2 to 3 feet above average and coastal erosion is likely.
Wave heights on the ocean waters off the coast are forecast to range from 12 to 18 feet, with breaking waves of 6 to 9 feet at the shore, especially along the Atlantic-facing Delaware and Jersey beaches.
In addition, widespread flooding of vulnerable shore roads may lead to numerous road closures in coastal areas.
(LATEST NEWS: Winter Storm Stella Impacts New York City)
Stella’s Midwest Chapter
Stella impacted the Midwest with light to moderate snowfall accumulations across a large part of that region Sunday into Monday.
Many cities in the southern Great Lakes saw at least light snowfall amounts of a few inches.
Lake-effect snow could continue in northeast Illinois and southeast Wisconsin, including Chicago and Milwaukee, into Tuesday. Locally heavy accumulations are possible in persistent bands of snow.
Chicago’s O’Hare Airport had picked up 2.5 inches of snow from Stella as of Monday evening, ending a record streak without an inch of snow cover. The Windy City last had an inch of snow on the ground on Christmas Day.
Below is a recap showing some of the top snow totals from Stella in each state for the Midwest, as of late Monday morning.
Illinois: 5.8 inches in Colona, 5.2 inches near Moline
Indiana: 3 inches in Cedar Lake
Iowa: 13 inches in Ringsted, 8.8 inches in Waterloo
Michigan: 8 inches in Oscoda
Minnesota: 13 inches near Gary New Duluth, 6.5 inches in Rochester, 3.7 inches at Minneapolis/St. Paul Int’l Airport
North Dakota: 4 inches in New Town and Williston
South Dakota: 10 inches near Watertown, 9 inches in Aberdeen
Wisconsin: 15.6 inches in Newburg, 14.3 inches near Jackson