A very dangerous weather event is likely, with very heavy snow Tuesday and near blizzard conditions Wednesday across the Finger Lakes and surround areas.
A Serious Storm
The Finger Lakes and surrounding regions are poised for one of the biggest winter storms in recent memory as a powerful nor’easter is set to slam the region with heavy snow Tuesday and strong winds on Wednesday. Travel conditions throughout both days will be extremely hazardous and dangerous.
This storm looks to be a step above most of the major winter weather events of the past 10-20 years. While not in the same class as the epic Blizzard of 1993 or other historic events throughout our region’s history, this will likely be a storm to remember.
Please continue to read the entire post for all of the details. Forecast confidence is still not as high as I would like. Please also remember that I do not hype the weather. I am genuinely concerned about the impacts this event will have on those that do not take it seriously.
Storm Timeline and Hazards
Snow will start to overspread the Finger Lakes overnight tonight. Some snow showers may be possible as early as the late afternoon, but the steady, accumulating snow will not start until after midnight for most areas.
Heavy snow will likely be falling by the Tuesday morning commute. Very heavy snow will persist through most of Tuesday and Tuesday evening. Snowfall rates over an inch an hour will be likely. By Tuesday evening, some places will already be over a foot.
Winds Tuesday will be gusty, but not too strong. Still, the snow will be light and fluffy, which will make it easy to blow around. Low visibilities and drifting will be moderate problems.
The wind will increase on Wednesday, even as the falling snow tapers off to generally light snow. Wind gusts of 35 to 45 mph will become commonplace. This will create near blizzard conditions with white outs and significant drifting of the snow.
Travel conditions will be very dangerous both Tuesday and Wednesday as a result.
Conditions will start to improve Wednesday evening as snow rates continue to drop and the wind begins to lessen. Gusts over 30 mph will be possible on Thursday as well, however, continuing the threat for poor travel conditions.
This will be a widespread storm, with high impacts all across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast.
Expected snow accumulations have increased across most of the Finger Lakes.
This is due primarily to a continued westward trend in the European model and its ensemble members.
Some of the heaviest precipitation from the storm will fall just east of the region, but the eastern Finger Lakes in particular are under the gun for some very heavy snow rates.
The snow will likely accumulate very quickly as snow crystal growth is maximized. Some thundersnow is not out of the question given how powerful the storm looks.
Most of the region should easily see a foot of snow. Snow totals could approach two feet near Lake Ontario and across the northern and eastern Finger Lakes. Over two feet is a very real possibility for areas near and east of I-81.
The overall confidence for these snow totals is medium. There are still some indications that lighter but still significant snow amounts are possible. There are also indications that even higher snow amounts are possible. This forecast considers both possibilities and lays in a middle of the road, most likely scenario.
As with any significant snow event, accumulations will vary greatly over short distances due to very localized heavy snow bands. Geography and elevation also play a role.
The snow will be difficult to measure to do the wind. Snow drifts could easily exceed 3-4 feet.
Thankfully, the lake effect snow Thursday and Friday behind the system looks fairly minimal at this point.
This is a dangerous system. Even if snow totals top out around “only” a foot, there will still be significant impacts. The potential for two to three feet of snow is real. This is not hype.
Having a plan in place for worst case scenarios is recommended. Food, water, and medicine for 2 or 3 days, a warm to safely stay warm if the power fails, and a survival kit and plan if you must travel are highly encouraged. If possible, plan to not travel on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Please continue to spread real weather forecasts and not hype. Your support in my mission of bringing honest, accessible, and accurate weather to the Finger Lakes is greatly appreciated!
My next update will come between 5:30 and 6 pm tonight. In the meantime, feel free to message or email me with your questions.