Cold air has invaded the Finger Lakes on north-northwest winds. Most areas are in the single digits early Saturday morning.
Areas of lake effect snow exist across some parts of the Finger Lakes while the sun is shining outside of any snow bands. Most of the snow early this morning is located over the south and western portions of the region.
As the morning goes on, winds will become a bit more westerly, sending flurries and squalls back north into the northern and eastern Finger Lakes. The snow should remain generally in these areas for most of the day, with several inches possible in some of the heavier snow bands.
The wind will increase significantly this morning and continue into the afternoon. Wind gusts over 40 mph are likely throughout the region with a few places possibly gusting to or above 50 mph.
The problems with the wind will be threefold. First, wind that strong can cause some minor tree damage and sporadic power outages. Second, the wind will blow the snow, causing poor visibilities and poor travel conditions from drifting snow. Lastly, with temperatures only reaching the teens today, wind chills will be near or below zero most of the day.
The wind will gradually taper off overnight and the snow will dissipate Sunday morning.
Sunday will be cold still, but without the wind and snow, it will not seem as bad. Plus, the sun will set an hour later as Daylight Savings Time begins, so make sure you set your clocks forward one hour before going to bed Saturday night.
Early Week Nor’easter Potential
There is a good chance you have heard about the potential storm early next week. The weather media is already having a field day with this storm. Here are the latest no-hype details on what is known, what is uncertain, and how you should be reacting at this point.
There are a number of pieces to this setup. First, there is a small disturbance currently sitting over the east coast of Texas. This disturbance will gradually drift east into the Gulf of Mexico this weekend.
Next, there is a storm system just starting to come onshore from the Pacific Ocean into Washington state.
Lastly, the sprawling area of high pressure responsible for our current cold weather will remain stretched across Canada throughout the weekend and well into next week.
The Pacific storm will move into the northern Rockies today and will emerge over the northern Plains on Sunday. By Monday, this system will be in the Ohio Valley while the Gulf of Mexico system moves across Florida and starts to strengthen near the coast of the Carolinas. By this time, the two systems will start to interact. How they interact is a complex process and a major source of uncertainty in the storm track and strength.
That said, for the storm still being this far out, there is rather good agreement among the models that a nor’easter will develop. The differences in track and strength have a significant impact on the location of the heaviest precipitation, so it is too early yet to say where the storm will be the worst. However, at this point, it is prudent to encourage residents of the northeast to watch this system carefully.
Focusing more on the Finger Lakes and potential impacts here, there is a great deal of uncertainty still at play. How the two systems interact is going to be a vital question for our region. For a big snow in our region, we will likely need part of the Ohio Valley system to remain independent and lift up into the Great Lakes. This would pull some of the moisture from the nor’easter further west and could result in heavy snow for the Finger Lakes.
If the lows merge completely, or if the two systems remain completely separate, the Finger Lakes could get missed altogether.
Unlike our other winter storms this year, precipitation type will not be an issue. The large Canadian high will continue to supply cold air into the region. Anything that does fall will fall as fluffy snow that can accumulate quickly and blow around easily. The high pressure system will also keep the system from zipping away quickly, meaning it could be a multi-day event starting Monday evening and lingering into Wednesday.
As the Pacific system comes onshore today, the amount of observational data that can be used in modeling the system will vastly increase. This should lead to an increase in forecast confidence over the next 24-36 hours.
So, in conclusion:
- A nor’easter of some sort seems likely next week
- The evolution of the complex set up remains uncertain, especially in regards to system merger and interaction
- It is still too early to be specific about impacts or amounts for the Finger Lakes
- Anything that does fall will be snow
- Forecast confidence should increase over the weekend