PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A massive nor’easter rumbling up the East Coast will dump up to 12 inches of snow on Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts Thursday, according to the National Weather Service.
The Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning, saying the wind will gust up to 40 mph, and travel will be treacherous with the potential for blizzard conditions and white-outs. Strong winds could knock out power, and another arctic freeze will follow the storm, according to the Weather Service.
“A significant winter storm will bring heavy snow, strong to damaging winds and coastal flooding Thursday into Thursday night. Exact snow amounts and precise location of the rain-snow line will be dependent on how close the storm tracks to New England,” The Weather Service says in its forecast discussion.
“There will be about a 6 (hour) window of very heavy snowfall from about 10 am to 4 pm when snowfall rates of at least an inch or two per hour are likely,” the Weather Service says.
The winter storm warning is in effect from 1 a.m. Thursday until 1 a.m. Friday and covers all of Rhode Island, except for Block Island, which is under a blizzard watch. Much of Massachusetts is also under a winter storm warning, with much of Southeastern Massachusetts, including Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard under a blizzard warning.
A National Weather Service image tweeted Wednesday afternoon indicates that most of Rhode Island will get 8 to 12 inches of snow. Much of Southeastern Massachusetts, including New Bedford, Taunton and Foxboro, should get 12 inches, and some areas could get as much as 18 inches, according to the Weather Service map.
“Travel will be very difficult to impossible,” the Weather Service says.
Near white-outs are expected for a time Thursday, according to forecasters.
According to the Weather Service, “A winter storm warning for snow means severe winter weather conditions are expected. If you must travel, keep an extra flashlight, food and water in your vehicle in case of an emergency.”
AccuWeather says the storm will affect areas from Florida to Maine and Atlantic Canada. The storm was already bringing snow to Florida and Georgia on Wednesday.
“The storm is projected to undergo rapid strengthening, referred to as bombogenesis,” AccuWeather says. Bombogenisis is defined by how quickly the pressure within the storm plummets, according to AccuWeather. “When the barometric pressure falls at least 0.71 of an inch (24 millibars) in 24 hours, a storm has undergone bombogenesis.”
AccuWeather meteorologists believe the heaviest snow and strongest winds from the storm will happen in eastern New England and part of Atlantic Canada.
For Providence, the Weather Service says the snow should start around 4 a.m. and dump 8 to 12 inches before winding down around 10 p.m. The high temperature should reach 26 degrees and the wind will blow from the north at 16 to 25 mph with gusts up to 40 mph.
The coast, including Narragansett and Block Island, should see even stronger gusts.
“This storm is becoming a serious situation in regards to the damaging wind potential,” the Weather Service says in its forecast discussion.
“These strong winds combined with heavy wet snow could increase power outage potential,” the Weather Service says.
Southern New England got a brief break from the bitter cold on Wednesday. The Weather Service says the temperatures at Nantucket Airport reached 33 degrees.
Arctic cold will return after Thursday’s storm, with the temperature plummeting to 8 degrees in Providence Thursday night, with wind chills down to -5.
The sun returns on Friday, but the cold remains, with highs reaching only 13 degrees, wind chills down to -10 and gusty northwest winds of up to 39 mph.
The high Saturday will reach just 8 degrees in Providence and drop to -6 Saturday night, the Weather Service says.
— This report was updated at 8:29 a.m., 11 a.m., 2:55, 5:20 p.m. and 5:49 p.m.