Forecasters predict heavy snow, blizzard conditions Tuesday


Updated 6:25 am Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The National Weather Service now predicts blizzard conditions and 8 to 12 inches of snow for Martha’s Vineyard beginning Tuesday, a significant escalation of the weather conditions forecast this morning.

The Steamship Authority advises travelers that ferry service could be affected.

“Based on the current forecast, the Steamship Authority anticipates possible service disruptions Tuesday evening into Wednesday,” according an advisory from the Steamship Authority.

Current ferry operations

The weather service issued a blizzard watch Monday, for a 24 hour period from Tuesday afternoon to Wednesday afternoon. A gale warning is posted for marine interests from Tuesday evening to Wednesday evening.

“Low pressure developing well south of New England Tuesday will combine with arctic air moving across the region to result in heavy snow across much of southern New England,” weather service forecasters wrote in their 4 pm advisory. “Temperatures will be very cold, ranging from the teens across the interior to the mid-20s across outer Cape Cod during the day Tuesday, and falling into the single digits to teens Tuesday night. This will mean that snow will pile up rather quickly.”

A blizzard watch means there is the potential for blowing snow with sustained winds or frequent gusts over 35 miles per hour, and visibility below 1/4 mile, for at least three hours.

“Whiteout conditions will be possible, making travel very dangerous,” the forecasters wrote. “Be prepared to alter any travel plans.”

The predicted snow will not come from a traditional storm, but from the effect of very cold air flowing across the relatively warmer ocean waters, producing snow along the coastline. The weather phenomenon is more common near the Great Lakes, where the prevailing northeast winds often produce lake effect snow.