Mother Nature is expected to blanket the South Fork with a heavy snowfall Friday, with high winds that could create near-blizzard-like conditions, experts said Wednesday.
According to John Murray, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Upton, snow could begin to fall Thursday night, with the bulk of the snow expected to fall on Friday and into Saturday morning.
The storm, Murray said, will be caused by two low-pressure systems — one off the mid-Atlantic and one moving into the Ohio Valley — that will converge on Friday and form a stronger system south and east of Long Island, packing a powerful punch to the East End and southern Connecticut.
On the South Fork, precipitation is expected to begin as snow Thursday night and early Friday. On Friday afternoon, the snow will mix with rain, eventually becoming rain Friday night as the low offshore system becomes stronger and moves north and east.
Saturday morning, colder air will come in again and allow precipitation to change back to snow, through Saturday morning. The storm is expected to wrap up by Saturday afternoon, Murray said.
Total snowfall accumulation expected on the South Fork is between 5 and 7 inches. Amounts could change, Murray said, as the storm moves closer.
Temperatures are expected to range between lows in the upper 20s Friday night into Saturday morning, with high temperatures Friday expected to be between 41 and 42 degrees.
Residents, Murray said, should expect high winds on Friday, with gusts of between 35 and 45 miles per hour in the afternoon and increasing Friday night and into Saturday, when gusts between 50 and 60 miles per hour could "dramatically reduce visibility" and cause "near-blizzard conditions" for a period of about three hours Friday night.
Snow in general reduces visibility, Murray said; with near-blizzard conditions, visibility could drop to a quarter mile or less.