Uncertainties remain in the forecast, but now is the time to prepare for a significant, long duration snow.
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Sunday Nor’easter Weather Forecast Update
We are now less than 48 hours before a significant nor’easter begins to take shape along the east coast. There are majort sources of uncertainty still and forecast confidence remains below normal.
However, what I have seen in the forecast models and in past weather events has been enough for me to come down on the snowy, stormy side for the Finger Lakes.
At this point, the weather models as a whole are honing in on a plausible solution. Variation remains among the individual models and model ensemble members. This is common and it is unlikely that a single exact scenario will start to show all around. This is where being a meteorologist and not just someone who looks at computer generated graphics kicks in.
Storm Evolution and Time Line
I expect this to be a long duration weather event, with snow starting Monday night and continuing into the late week. The worst of the storm will be on Tuesday and Wednesday, followed by areas of lake effect snow on Thursday and possibly into Friday. The lake effect behind the system will be addressed in more detail later. The remainder of this blog will focus on Tuesday and Wednesday.
A few snow showers will start to work into the Finger Lakes during the late afternoon or evening hours on Monday as the first piece of this complex system moves into the Ohio Valley. Snow will increase after midnight, but will still remain mostly light into early Tuesday.
Moderate to heavy snow will develop through Tuesday morning and persist through the day and into Tuesday night. Significant accumulations are likely by Tuesday evening.
Additional light to moderate snow will continue to fall on Wednesday as moisture on the back side of the storm continues to wrap back into the Finger Lakes. The wind will also kick up Wednesday, with the potential for gusts over 35 mph.
The snow that falls will likely be light and fluffy, so conditions with the wind on Wednesday could become quite hazardous with near blizzard conditions at times. By Wednesday evening, the storm will start to depart and lake effect will take over.
Finger Lakes Snow Accumulations
Most of the Finger Lakes has a good shot at seeing a foot or more of snow from this system.
Areas near Lake Ontario will likely see the highest amounts as the lake enhances the snow on north winds, especially Wednesday. Two feet is a real possibility in these areas.
There are a number of factors that favor high snow totals over the Finger Lakes.
First, low pressure over the Great Lakes will stall out as the nor’easter tracks along the east coast. Between these two systems, there will be a “bridge” of energy that will remain in place over the Finger Lakes for much of Tuesday and Wednesday. This will keep the snow in place and falling at a steady rate for a long duration.
Second, the atmosphere will favor large snowflake growth throughout this event. Large amounts of moisture and upward motion in the atmosphere will coincide with prime temperatures for maximum snow crystal growth. This will produce a snow that will accumulate quickly. For comparison, similar past storms with a wet, heavy snow typically only produce 6-10 inches across our region.
Lastly, with north winds over the Great Lakes, moisture will remain in place even as the storm lifts well to our northeast. This will help keep snow falling longer than usual.
This is not a slam-dunk forecast and there is still a chance for lighter snow totals across the region. The above snow map and forecast represents the most likely scenario and is what I expect will happen.
However, I would rate the chance for snow of 6 inches or less at 30%. This is quite high and represents a significant uncertainty.
Please keep that in mind and continue to monitor the forecast for updates. Given that there is real potential for significant snow and hazardous weather conditions, it may not be a bad idea to take stock of your supplies, just to make sure you have everything you need without having to leave your home for a couple days. It is better to be prepared than caught off guard.
The above forecast represents hours of work and analysis with a constant focus on my no-hype philosophy. I stress once again to keep the degree of uncertainty in mind but to take proper precautions before, during and after this storm to ensure safety. Your safety and well-being is why I do what I do.
This will be my only post today, Sunday. My next update will come Monday morning between 7-8 am.
Please continue to share my no-hype message with your family, friends, and co-workers. I appreciate your support and reliance on my services! Thank you!