Heavy lake effect snow will impact parts of the Finger Lakes and Central New York, especially on Friday, Dec. 9, 2016.
Lake Effect Snow Set-Up
A two part lake effect snow event is set to unfold across the Finger Lakes and Central New York between Thursday, December 8, 2016 and Saturday, December 10, 2016.
A shot of cold air from Canada will interact with the relatively warm waters of the Great Lakes to produce lake effect snow. The atmospheric dynamics appear to be primed for intense snow rates exceeding one inch per hour at times.
Significant accumulations are likely for some areas, but as is always the nature of lake effect, there will likely be wide ranges in snow totals, even over small distances. The main part of the storm on Friday is still two days away. While that may not seem too far, for lake effect, there typically remains a large degree of uncertainty even 24-48 hours ahead of an event.
The remainder of this blog will break down the two phases of the lake effect event with as much detail as is possible at this stage. Please continue to monitor the forecast for updates and plan ahead for adverse travel conditions, especially on Friday.
Phase 1: Thursday, December 8, 2016 Lake Effect Snow
Lake effect snow will begin to develop Wednesday night on a southwest wind. Initially, this will keep the snow well away from the Finger Lakes, as the band from Lake Ontario heads into the St. Lawrence Seaway and Lake Erie snow remains locked into the Niagara Frontier.
By Thursday morning, winds will become more westerly and the lake effect bands will head south. Snow off of Lake Ontario will remain well north of the area, but will dump significant amounts between the Tug Hill and Watertown.
Off of Lake Erie, a broken band of snow will likely extend across the Finger Lakes for much of the day. This band will likely be made up of on and off flurries and squalls. Generally speaking, accumulations should be minimal, especially during the daytime hours. As the sun sets and temperatures cool, some areas could see a couple of inches.
Due to local topography, there may be some slightly higher snow amounts through Thursday evening across parts of the central and eastern Finger Lakes.
FORECAST UPDATE FOR FRIDAY- CLICK HERE
The remainder of this blog is now outdated. Please click for the latest information on Friday’s snow.
Phase 2: Friday, December 9, 2016 Lake Effect Snow
During the course of the night Thursday, winds will turn again, this time to the northwest. Lake effect snow will push further south and align itself from northwest to southeast across the region.
During this time, the exact wind direction becomes very important, as there will likely be some extra influence from the Georgian Bay in Canada. During the lake effect snow event in November, this connection was key in bringing surprising, significant snow accumulations across parts of the central and southern Finger Lakes.
As things stand now, a similar set up may occur Friday morning, with a strong band of snow extending from the Georgian Bay across the central and southern Finger Lakes. This area has been circle in a black, dotted line to highlight the potential for heavy snow early Friday.
This heavy band will likely shift north later Friday into the northern Finger Lakes. Significant snow accumulations will be likely within this band into Friday night.
For these northern areas, a spray of flurries and squalls will be likely even early Friday before the Georgian Bay starts to contribute to the snow. Likewise, a wide area of moderate to heavy snow will persist even outside of the more intense band from the Georgian Bay.
Snow accumulations are uncertain, especially in the two areas circled with the red dotted line.
Lake effect snow will linger into Saturday, but will gradually wind down.
Please continue to monitor the forecast as the subtle details to this event gradually reveal themselves both leading up to and during this event.