Good Thursday evening!
For now, our weather is just dry and cold. Temperatures will bottom out in the teens tonight with some single digits in the normally colder locations. Skies will be clear to partly cloudy.
An arctic cold front will sweep through the state tomorrow. Sunshine will mix with some partial cloudiness by afternoon. There is a chance for a few stray flurries or snow showers, but nothing to worry about. Tomorrow will be cold and quite breezy with high temperatures ranging from the mid 20s in the Litchfield Hills to the lower 30s along the I-95 corridor.
The quiet weather will last through Friday night although a veil of clouds will overspread the state in advance of the next storm. Temperatures will dip into the teens Friday night.
We've been talking about a storm for the upcoming weekend and we still expect a significant winter event across all of Southern New England. The Channel 3 Early Warning Forecast Team has named this storm "Ashford"! All signs point toward a moderate winter storm, not a real blockbuster. Still, this storm could disrupt many of your weekend plans as traveling becomes more difficult. Light snow will develop Saturday morning. Snow will get steadier and a bit heavier during the afternoon. Temperatures will probably remain in the upper teens and 20s, which means it will be a dry, fluffy snow. The cold air will be hard to budge with high pressure anchored in place to our north. The center of Storm Ashford will move off the Mid-Atlantic Coast Saturday night then it will pass to the south and east of New England (near the benchmark) Sunday morning. While this is normally a classic snow track, there should be some marginal warming aloft. That means moderate to heavy snow Saturday evening could mix with sleet and freezing rain Saturday night especially to the south of the I-84 corridor.
Snow or mixed precipitation will linger into Sunday morning, but weather conditions will greatly improve during the afternoon although winds will be a bit gusty. Our initial snowfall forecast is calling for 4-8" of snow across interior portions of the state with 3-6" in southern and southeastern areas. We may have to tweak these numbers between now and Saturday since the amount of snow you will ultimately end up shoveling greatly depends on the exact storm track and the degree of mixing.
Another shot of cold air will move Sunday night and Monday. However, we expect a brief recovery by Tuesday afternoon. That's when temperatures will rise well above freezing for a change. We are forecasting highs in the 30s to near 40 degrees. Temperatures will then trend downward again for the middle and end of next week.
On the subject of naming winter storms, Channel 3 and the Travelers Weather Service began the tradition in 1971. It was all started with a team of meteorologist who broadcasted weather information on Channel 3, WTIC radio with Bob Steele, and other media outlets. The tradition continues 42 years later! A storm has to meet certain criteria in order to be named. We must expect at least 6" of snow for much of the state and/or ½" of ice accretion. That would be a significant ice storm. Recently, The Weather Channel started naming winter storms, but they have to cover the entire United States. That means they will progress through the alphabet faster than we do. There have already been several major winter storms this season. Their name for this weekend's storm is Electra. I know this creates confusion to our viewers and readers, but if we adopted the Weather Channel's list of names that would be even more confusing. Therefore, we decided to maintain our own long standing tradition. Many people remember Blizzard Larry, the Blizzard of '78. The big ice storm of December 1973 was named Felix. More recently, we had to deal with Storm Alfred in late October of 2011. Alfred's heavy, wet snow caused a record power outage in Connecticut. And it was just in February of this year when Blizzard Charlotte dumped up to 40" of snow on the state. Yes, people remember names, especially the ones that have been attached to Connecticut's biggest storms! Occasionally, we get criticized for naming winter storms, but by far most of our viewers love the tradition and find it fun! This winter, the theme is names of Connecticut towns that could also be the name of a person. Here are the first several names: Ashford, Bethany, Chester, Derby, Easton, Franklin, Guilford, and Hampton.
On an astronomical note, the Geminid Meteor Shower will peak this Friday night. The best viewing will be from 9pm Friday evening until dawn Saturday. The very best viewing will be in the hours before sunrise Saturday after the moon sets. Hopefully, we'll gave good sky conditions. However, I suspect a veil of high clouds will move in during the pre-dawn hours in advance of the weekend storm.
Enjoy the rest of your week!
Chief Meteorologist Bruce DePrest