Winter Storm Gail Moving Into Northeast With Heavy Snow, Potentially Including New York City, Boston

Published in 16 December, 2020

At a Glance

  • Winter Storm Gail will strike the East Coast Wednesday into Thursday.

  • Heavy snow, gusty winds and coastal flooding are all threats.

  • Over a foot of snow is expected from parts of western Maryland to southern New England.

inter Storm Gail will spread across the Northeast and mid-Atlantic through tonight, where it will be a high-impact nor’easter packing heavy snow, strong winds and coastal flooding. Significant winter storm impacts are not only expected in the interior Northeast, but also near parts of the Interstate 95 corridor from New England to New York City and areas near or just west of Philadelphia.

(MORE: About Naming Winter Storms)

Current Status

Gail is bringing generally light snowfall to parts of the Ohio Valley this morning. Some freezing rain has developed in western and north-central North Carolina.

Snow, sleet and rain will be on the increase across the mid-Atlantic and Northeast through the day and overnight as Gail’s coastal low-pressure system intensifies near the Eastern Seaboard. At the same time, strong high pressure in eastern Canada will supply fresh, cold air into the Northeast.

With these ingredients coming together, we are expecting one of the more impactful Northeast winter storms in the last couple of years.

Winter Storm Alerts

The National Weather Service has posted winter storm warnings and winter weather advisories from portions of New England to the southern Appalachians.

Among the cities in winter storm warnings are Boston, Hartford, Providence, New York City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and Roanoke, Virginia.

(MORE: Northeast High-Impact Snowstorm Drought Enters Third Winter)

Winter Alerts

(From the National Weather Service.)

Moderate to major impacts are expected from this winter storm in most of the areas under winter storm warnings, according to NOAA’s new Winter Storm Severity Index. Travel should be avoided in these areas, especially later Wednesday and Wednesday night.

Winter Storm Severity Index

(Source: NOAA)

Forecast Timing

Wednesday-Wednesday Night

Wednesday and Wednesday night is the time period when most areas will receive the peak impacts from this East Coast storm.

Snowfall and gusty winds will spread northward through the day across portions of the central Appalachians, mid-Atlantic and Northeast.

A mix of sleet and freezing rain is expected as far south as the western Piedmont of North Carolina and western Virginia, which may slowly change to rain by afternoon from south to north.

Wednesday’s Forecast

Wednesday night, heavy snow will spread north into much of New York state and all of New England except the far north. Snow and near-coastal rain will taper off overnight in the Mid-Atlantic.

Wednesday Night’s Outlook

Most areas from near or just north of New York City into upstate New York and New England will likely remain cold enough to see all snow. That said, some mixing with sleet, even rain could cut down on snowfall accumulations near the immediate coast from Long Island to southern Connecticut, Rhode Island and parts of southeast Massachusetts.

Areas from central and southern New Jersey to near Philadelphia and Baltimore should mix with sleet or even rain at times, which would reduce snowfall accumulations. Heavy snow totals are most likely just west and north of this portion of the Interstate 95 corridor.

Washington, D.C. is expected to see snow changing to sleet and then rain. The heaviest snow totals are forecast to remain in areas north and west of the immediate District of Columbia.

Strong winds are expected Wednesday night, particularly along the Jersey shore and Delmarva Peninsula northward to near the New York City metro, Long Island and coastal southern New England.

Where snow and strong winds overlap, there could be power outages and tree damage on Wednesday night. Blowing snow will also significantly reduce visibility.

(MORE: 6 Things to Know About Your Snow Forecast)

Wind Gust Forecast


The storm will begin to pull away from the Northeast on Thursday morning.

Snowfall and gusty winds could linger through at least a part of Thursday in the Northeast, mainly in New England, but also in parts of the Hudson Valley and central New York. Most locations should see improving weather conditions by the second half of Thursday.

This storm will likely produce some coastal flooding from the mid-Atlantic into New England. Coastal flood warnings and advisories have been issued by the National Weather Service from Maryland to Massachusetts.

Moderate coastal flooding is forecast for the Thursday morning high tide along the Jersey Shore and in coastal Delaware.

Thursday’s Forecast

How Much Snow?

The heaviest snow totals from this storm are most likely in a zone from the West Virginia panhandle into northern and western Maryland, central and eastern Pennsylvania, northern New Jersey, parts of the Hudson Valley and southern and central New England. Snowfall totals in these areas may reach a foot or more, generally north and west of Interstate 95.

New York City, Boston, Hartford and Providence are some of the major cities likely to pick up 6 inches or more of snowfall. Near a foot of snow is possible in parts of these metro areas depending on where heavier bands of snowfall setup.

The forecast along the Interstate 95 corridor from Philadelphia and southern New Jersey southward to northern Delaware is trickier, as these areas will pick up sleet and/or rain at times, which will cut down on snow totals. There will be a large variation in snowfall amounts over short distances in this region, with the heaviest amounts expected just west and north of Interstate 95 by tens of miles.

Farther south, the heaviest snow totals are expected to remain well west and north of the immediate Washington, D.C. and Baltimore metro areas.

(MORE MAPS: Winter Storm Gail Map Tracker)

Snowfall Potential

(While it is too far out in time to specify exact forecast snowfall totals, areas in the purple and pink contours have the highest chance at heavy snowfall. )

Ice Threat

Accumulating ice is expected beginning Wednesday morning, lasting into Wednesday afternoon, in parts of the Appalachians and adjacent Piedmont of Virginia, West Virginia and the western Carolinas.

These ice accumulations will make most untreated roads, particularly bridges and overpasses, hazardous, particularly Wednesday morning.

Some parts of southern Virginia and western North Carolina could pick up heavier ice accumulations capable of downing tree limbs and triggering power outages.

However, precipitation may change to rain from south to north, which could limit ice accumulations.

Related Posts

Public adjuster

Public adjuster

One of people's biggest dreams is to have their own home or business.   We feel successful and proud that by our effort we achieve what we deserve.  Have a heritage to offer our family, or for those who live alone, get the feeling of comfort. Having the house or...

Tropical Storm Fred Hits Florida Panhandle

Tropical Storm Fred Hits Florida Panhandle

At a Glance Thousands were without power in the Florida Panhandle where Fred made landfall. Flooding made several roads impassable. Several school districts cancel Tuesday classes. A state of emergency was declared for 23 of Florida's 67 counties. As Tropical Storm...

System Likely to Become ‘Fred’

System Likely to Become ‘Fred’

At a Glance A disturbance in the eastern Caribbean is likely to become a tropical storm on Tuesday. It will bring heavy rain and gusty winds to the Caribbean, regardless of development. It's uncertain what, if any, impacts this system might bring to Florida beginning...


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *