Another Ash Wednesday?

Published 8:28 pm Saturday, March 2, 2013

Meteorologists differ on storm forecasts

Local meteorologists are watching a winter storm system expected to develop next week but, so far, are taking a decidedly more cautious approach than other weather services. pegged the storm, which is set to affect Suffolk Wednesday and Thursday, as a rival to the deadly “Ash Wednesday Storm” that hit on the same dates in 1962.

That storm caused feet of snow, high winds and extensive coastal flooding. More than 40 people were killed, more than 1,000 injured and damages reached an estimated $200 million in 1962 dollars.

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“The majority of meteorologists concur that the storm of 1962 and the storm next week (bear) great similarities on the historical weather maps and what is projected to occur,” warned a press release sent Friday. “The storm next week has the potential to deliver very damaging, dangerous and disruptive consequences for a heavily populated part of the nation.”

However, Dan Proch of the Wakefield office of the National Weather Service said it’s too early to tell how severe next week’s storm will be.

“The energy this system it is going to work with is still thousands of miles out in the ocean,” he said. “It’s a while out, so we can’t jump on what the models are showing yet.”

Proch said the storm will begin Wednesday afternoon with rain and change over to snow late Wednesday. It could last through Thursday afternoon, but how much precipitation will occur remains to be seen.

One mitigating factor in this storm that could keep it from being as destructive as the 1962 tempest is the astronomical tide cycle.

“The storm in ’62 hit at a time of high astronomical tides,” said Elliot Abrams, chief meteorologist for “Fortunately, the storm next week will be occurring multiple days well away from the new and full moon.”

For updates on the storm as it develops, keep an eye on the Suffolk News-Herald and