Early look at Monday/Tuesday Finger Lakes storm potential

finger lakes weather forecast no-hype winter storm monday january 23 tuesday january 24 2017
A storm system will impact the Finger Lakes early next week, but what type of precipitation falls, and how much, is unknown at this time.

A first, no-hype look specific to the Finger Lakes region on the potential for a winter storm Monday, January 24 and Tuesday, January 25, 2017.

Storm Set-Up

finger lakes weather forecast winter storm january 23 janaury 24 2017
High-pressure north of New England will slow the storm’s progress while pumping cold air south.

A complex weather pattern is expected to begin to take place on Sunday over the eastern part of North America which will help spawn a slow moving storm system along the east coast of the United States.

A storm system that is moving into the Pacific Northwest today (Friday) will track east, then south over the Great Plains and into the Deep South this weekend.

On Monday, the system will become better organized over Georgia and will turn northeast towards the Mid-Atlantic and New England states by Tuesday.

Meanwhile, a strong, polar high-pressure system will drop south across eastern Canada and take up residence just north of New England.

This high-pressure system is an extremely important piece of the setup. Not only will it block and slow the progression of the coastal storm, but it will also deliver colder air to the region out ahead of the storm.

Finger Lakes Impacts

Given the above setup, precipitation would likely begin to overspread the Finger Lakes from the south during the daytime hours on Monday.

After an initial burst of precipitation, a lull would be possible later in the day, followed by a renewal of precipitation late Monday night and into Tuesday.

Lighter precipitation could linger into Tuesday night.

Winds could become rather strong Monday afternoon and evening, but that will ultimately be determined by the storm track.

Temperature will be key with this system, as cold air from the high-pressure battles with warm air from the low. Predicting precipitation type at this point is extremely uncertain and cannot be done with any degree of confidence.

Closer Look at the Uncertainties

In an attempt to take a closer look at what may or may not happen, we can look at how the model projections are changing and the ensemble suites. I explained ensemble suites on Wednesday, but here is a quick summary in case you missed it.

An ensemble suite is a set of computer simulations where either the input used to start to the model, or the equations used to run the model, are slightly different for each run. By adjusting the model only slightly each time, a broad look at different possibilities is given.

On Wednesday, I also mentioned the possibility of this event bringing snow to the Finger Lakes. At that time, about 15% of the ensembles were showing significant snow (over 6 inches) in the Finger Lakes. In the latest European ensemble suite, that has jumped to about 25%. Another 40% of the suite members show between 2 and 6 inches. The other 35% show little to no snow.

Overall, the models have been consistent in showing this event. However, as the storm track varies from model to model, so does not only the precipitation type but the amount of precipitation that falls. Looking at precipitation amounts (rain and/or the liquid equivalent of any snow or ice), the ensembles range from less than a quarter of an inch (a very minor event) to nearly an inch and a half (significant event).

The temperatures have trended slightly colder over the last few days, which is shown in the increase in snow on the ensemble suites. However, even the colder solutions are very near to freezing, making this a rather narrow window for wintry precipitation. Any snow that does fall will likely be heavy and wet.

How to React

At this point, it is important to keep the uncertainties in mind and realize that there is simply no possible way anyone can make an accurate, confident forecast.

Undoubtedly, the hype machine will crank up as different media outlets rush to be the first to get their snow map circulating on social media. Don’t buy into the hype and don’t share the hype.

This will likely be an event that will keep us meteorologists scratching our heads until the storm is on our doorstep. Even then, we may not have a very good idea what exactly will happen. Forecasts over the next few days will be very vague and should be heavy on communicating the uncertainty.

Hopefully by Sunday afternoon, there will be enough information to go off of for a decent forecast. Before that point though, take any forecast that promises specific details with a grain of salt.

Watch patiently. Understand the uncertainties. Look for trends in the forecast. And rely on Finger Lakes Weather as the only source for no-hype weather information covering and focusing exclusively on the entire Finger Lakes region.

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Follow Meteorologist Drew Montreuil:
Meteorologist Drew Montreuil has been forecasting the weather in the Finger Lakes region since 2006 and has degrees in meteorology from SUNY Oswego (B.S. with Honors) and Cornell (M.S.). Drew and his wife have four young boys. When not working or playing with the boys, he is probably out for a run through the countryside.

6 Responses

  1. Mike C.

    Good stuff Drew! I love the very basic explanation of the models and the uncertainty associated with them. I’ll check back tomorrow to see the updated version… I would love to see a good amount of snow for a change… We’ll see if it’s in the cards, or models rather!

  2. Beth

    so appreciate your forecasts!

  3. SL

    Just have moved from Maryland and still travel their from work, I certainly know about the hype machine that exists when “Nor’ Easters” start to develop. It took me years to wade through the social media blitz to find a dependable forecaster down there and am pleasantly surprised to have found you so quickly. Keep up the good work and explanations, it is so nice to be able to trust someone is giving you a good feel for what “might” happen instead of building hype that is not warranted.

    • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil

      Welcome to the Finger Lakes, SL! Glad to be of service!

  4. […] Here’s the latest on the storm setup from FLX Weather Meteorologist Drew Montreuil: […]

  5. AJ Veith

    Good explanation, Drew.