A powerful winter storm is taking aim at Rhode Island, with the potential to dump heavy snow across significant parts of the state on Tuesday. The National Weather Service has issued winter storm warnings and watches, cautioning that travel conditions could quickly deteriorate as wet, blowing snow piles up.
The system is expected to move into Rhode Island late Monday night into the early morning hours on Tuesday. Forecasters say light snow will overspread the area after midnight, but will intensify around daybreak as bands of heavier precipitation move in.
The brunt of the storm will hit during the Tuesday morning commute, making for extremely difficult travel conditions. Gusty winds up to 40 mph could also down trees and power lines, resulting in outages.
Northern and Western Rhode Island to Take Biggest Hit
The heaviest snow totals are predicted across northern and western Rhode Island. Providence could see 6-10 inches of accumulation, which would snarl traffic on major highways like I-95. Areas along the I-95 corridor including Pawtucket, Cumberland and Lincoln could get 8 inches or more.
Woonsocket and other communities near the Massachusetts border may be hardest hit, with snowfall possibly exceeding a foot. “With heavy snow falling right in the middle of rush hour Tuesday, travel in places like Providence and Woonsocket will be very challenging,” said Mark Wysocki, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
Lighter Totals Down South, But Still Impactful
Areas across southern Rhode Island and Aquidneck Island will likely see lower snow totals in the 3-6 inch range. But forecasters say roads will still become snow-covered and slippery.
“Even just a few inches of snow can make travel hazardous during busy commuting hours,” explained Sarah Thrap, a meteorologist based in Providence. She advised that drivers throughout the region give themselves extra time Tuesday morning.
Farther east, communities like Newport, Tiverton and Little Compton are predicted to get 4-8 inches of accumulation. The snow could still be heavy enough at times to significantly reduce visibility on roadways.
Block Island Could Get Up to 3 Inches
Typically spared from the highest snow totals, Block Island is still expected to receive up to 3 inches of snow. Combined with high winds, blowing snow will likely cause near whiteout conditions at times across the island.
“Residents and visitors to Block Island should prepare for difficult travel conditions on Tuesday,” Thrap said. “The snow and wind will combine to reduce visibility and coat roads.”
Rhode Islanders Urged to Exercise Caution
With the harsh winter weather approaching, forecasters are advising Rhode Islanders to take precautions. Drivers should allow extra time, slow down, and avoid travel if possible during the height of the storm Tuesday morning.
Rhode Islanders should also prepare emergency kits and supplies in case of power outages. Clearing storm drains and avoiding shoveling until the snow stops will also be important to prevent flooding.
By using caution and avoiding unnecessary risks, residents can stay safe as the winter storm impacts the state. The snow may cause headaches, but will also give Rhode Island a picturesque blanket of white.