Get ready for snow this weekend, followed by more frigid temperatures.
New York may get 6 inches of snow and Boston may see double that amount from a storm moving in from the Midwest this weekend.
A winter weather advisory extends from Missouri to western New York, according to the National Weather Service. Boston and most of southern New England may see 6 to 12 inches of snow while areas just north and east of the New York will get as much as 10 inches, said Michael Silva, a weather service meteorologist in Upton, N.Y.
"Snow begins sometime Saturday morning and then by Saturday afternoon and evening is the bulk of the heaviest snow," Silva said by telephone.
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Below-normal temperatures, especially in Eastern and Midwestern cities, increase energy consumption as more people heat homes and businesses. Frigid conditions can also crimp natural gas and oil production by creating freeze-offs, in which ice forms in and near unprotected wells.
Natural gas futures closed at a two-year high of $4.409 per million British thermal units yesterday on the New York Mercantile Exchange amid forecasts for below-normal temperatures that would deplete stockpiles of the fuel. About 49 percent of U.S. households use gas for heating.
In Boston and New York, snow accumulations may be less than current forecasts depending on the track of the storm, said Rob Carolan, owner of Hometown Forecast Services Inc. in Nashua, New Hampshire. Computer models are split on how the storm will move up the coast and that could mean the difference between heavy snow and lighter amounts.
"The models are bouncing back and forth," Carolan said. "It is still making the forecast for New York, Boston and Providence tricky."
Snow will start falling in Boston tomorrow afternoon, with the heaviest amounts coming down after 7 p.m. into the next day.
The forecast for Washington is mainly rain, with some sleet mixed in, according to the weather service.
Farther west, Cleveland may get 5 to 6 inches as the snowstorm passes through overnight while Buffalo and Rochester may get 4 to 8 inches, according to the weather service. In St. Louis, where snow is expected to start later today, accumulations may total 3 to 5 inches, and Chicago may see about 2 to 4 inches.
Carolan said the storm’s center, which will pass to the south of Chicago, will alter air flows off the lake and that may mean the city will get closer to 6 inches before the storm ends late tomorrow.
After the storm passes, the weather will remain cold through the Northeast, so what snow does fall will stay on the ground, Carolan said.
Temperatures in the Northeast into Quebec and the Canadian Maritimes will range from 8 to 15 degrees below normal from today until Dec. 17, according to Matt Rogers, president of the Commodity Weather Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland.
Starting in the middle of next week, more seasonal readings are expected in the Northeast, while temperatures rise at least 5 degrees above normal across the southeastern U.S., he said.
Another surge of cold air sending temperatures at least 8 degrees below normal is expected to grip the central U.S. as far south as Texas from Dec. 23 to Dec. 27, he said.