Cutting Through the Hype: Big Storms and Lake Snows

finger lakes weather no hype forecast friday november 9 2018 rain snow lake effect noreaster
Rain will fall much of the day Friday with a few flurries this weekend and more unsettled weather next week. [Photo by Meteorologist Drew Montreuil.]
It happens every year: the approach of the first bouts of true wintry weather whip up a frenzy of hype days before the events. Now is a good time to address three different events with realistic, honest reporting and forecasting.

Friday Storm Brings Mostly Rain

With the other two events looming this weekend and next week, today’s storm system has honestly gotten little attention or hype.

A pair of storm systems, one in the Great Lakes and another along the Mid-Atlantic coast, are spreading precipitation into the Finger Lakes this morning.

Much of the area will see rain from start to finish, but some snow will fly over higher elevations. With temperatures starting the day mostly above freezing, any snow that falls will be hard to accumulate.

It will still be a dreary, wet day though worthy of some attention. Once precipitation spreads over the region by the late morning, it should continue through the afternoon and into the evening hours.

Total precipitation amounts should be between one-half and three-quarters of an inch. Flooding is not expected, though wet, low-lying areas that have recently been soggy will probably see standing water once again.

Winds will turn gusty this afternoon as well with a few gusts over 30 mph. These winds will start from the southeast before turning south this evening.

Temperatures throughout today will hover in the upper 30s to near 40 degrees. A quick rise into the low 40s will occur this evening before dropping quickly after midnight.

Weekend Lake Effect

The potential for lake effect snow has gotten a lot of attention this week. For the Finger Lakes, this will be a non-event.

Strong winds Saturday will turn to the west as cold air flooding into the region. Bands of lake effect snow off both Lake Erie and Lake Ontario will develop.

While there will be plenty of cold air for these lake bands, the background moisture in the atmosphere will wane and the strong winds may disrupt some of the band organization.

It is true that this is the first real lake effect event of the season. For most areas downwind of the lakes, it will only mean a few inches of snow. In the core of the band, up to a foot could accumulate for a few select places.

This looks to be a moderate event for the snow belts very typical of the early season. It pales in comparison to other early season events are not uncommon in these areas.

Locally, here in the Finger Lakes, some snow showers off Lake Erie will spread across the southern portion of the region Saturday morning with minor, if any accumulations.

Early Sunday may also have a few snow showers in the far northeast towards Syracuse with little accumulating.

The much bigger story is the cold air. Temperatures both Saturday and Sunday will top out in the mid and upper 30s.

Winds Saturday may gust over 40 mph, keeping wind chills in the 20s throughout the day.

Next Week’s Big Storm

The king of the hype has been a coastal storm for the middle of next week. The headlines floating around the internet the last several days make it seem like a mid-winter snow storm is on its way.

Yes, a coastal storm is expected to develop. This has consistently shown on the models for days and my confidence is high it will happen.

Some models, namely the unreliable GFS, have been putting out some generous amounts of snow.

However, the European model has been more reserved in its snow output, opting instead for mostly rain across our region.

A major problem here is the reliance on weather models without taking a scientific approach to forecasting.

It is very unlikely that this early season storm has nearly enough cold air at the surface, or even more importantly aloft, to intersect with the heavy precipitation.

During the period of heaviest precipitation Tuesday, temperatures in the lowest one to two miles of the atmosphere where the heavy precipitation falls will be above freezing.

Even if snow manages to fall in the Finger Lakes, the flake shape and dimensions will not be favorable for accumulating. The ground temperatures are also mild enough to make accumulation more difficult than in the mid-winter.

With these factors in mind and looking at the variety of possibilities presented by the European model, it is my early expectation that the Finger Lakes will see mostly rain with a little snow ending on the backside of the storm.

In a more extreme scenario, a widespread snow of 2-4 inches could be possible.

Now, this is still early, so the snowy scenario could become more likely in the coming days. There is an upper bound on just how snowy it could get though, and this really should not be a school-closing, traffic-snaring, looks-like-February nor’easter.

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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.

7 Responses

  1. Gitanjali Devi

    It’s been snowing most of the day up here in Reading Center, with about 2 inches on the ground and the trees are covered in snow. Too soon for a winter wonderland if you ask me.

  2. Denise R Fiacco

    I hopped on over to YOUR website for the real deal on the *SNOW* the others are predicting. Thank you!!!

    • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil

      Thanks for coming, Denise!

  3. Debbie

    I really appreciate your interpretation of the forecast. Thank you so much for keeping us Fingerlakers informed of what the real deal is. Also, I hate it when TV weathermen (weather-people) are whishy-washy, like Howard from WBNG. He can never be wrong, because he never exactly commits.

    • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil

      Thanks, Debbie! Glad to be of service and value!

  4. John Gregoire

    Very happy to see your comments on the increasing reliance of models which inmho is a huge mistake.

    • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil

      You are so right, John.