Snow Report: Wednesday, December 18, 2019

On and off snow squalls are expected Wednesday, making for brief periods of difficult travel.

WHAT

An arctic cold front will move through the Finger Lakes near or just before dawn Wednesday. Behind the front, conditions are favorable for the development of snow squalls with briefly intense snow and strong winds that will make travel difficult.

ALERTS ACTIVE

WINTER WEATHER ADVISORIES are in effect for the following counties (listed alphabetically):
Allegany, Cayuga (northern ONLY), Monroe, Onondaga, Wyoming, Wayne

SNOW SQUALL WARNINGS may be issued Wednesday as short term alerts for individual squalls that pose a significant travel hazard.

finger lakes weather what is a snow squall warning
Snow Squall Warnings are a new alert that have been issued for the last couple of winters. They identify areas of dangerous travel conditions due to intense snow squalls with near-zero visibility and rapidly changing road conditions.

WHEN

The cold front will work from west to east across the Finger Lakes between 4-8 AM with an initial burst of heavy snow. This first squall will have a moderate impact on the morning commute (see TRAVEL IMPACTS section below).

Additional squalls will be possible from time to time through the daytime hours. These squalls will be possible at any place and any time. Individual squalls should last 20-40 minutes and will track from northwest to southeast.

Squalls will become less numerous after sunset, but a band of lake effect snow from Lake Ontario will drop south through the northern Finger Lakes, weakening as it does so and dissipating before reaching the Southern Tier.

HOW MUCH

Snowfall amounts during the daytime hours Wednesday will generally be between 1-3 inches. Areas near the Great Lakes could see locally higher amounts. Most of this snow will fall in short bursts with snowfall rates at or over 1”/hr.

TEMPERATURES

Temperatures will start in the low 20s Wednesday morning and may rise to the mid 20s by the late morning. During the afternoon, temperatures will fall, with teens as early as 3-4 PM and single digits during the evening.

TRAVEL IMPACTS

The initial snow squall along the cold front will impact the morning commute. A moderate impact is expected, with areas of difficult travel. All roads have the potential to be slushy or snow covered at times. Visibilities within the squall will be greatly reduced.

Similar conditions can be expected within the other squalls throughout Wednesday. These squalls will be brief, on the order of 20-40 minutes. During the squalls, reduced speeds and headlights will be necessary.

Outside of the squalls, however, the sun may come out at times, keeping main routes and well treated surfaces mostly clear of snow.

OTHER IMPACTS

West and northwest winds will gust between 30-40 mph throughout Wednesday. This will produce areas of blowing snow and significant drifting in open areas.

By the late afternoon and evening, wind chill values will drop below zero.

FORECAST CONFIDENCE

HIGH – There is high confidence that the scenarios described above will occur. Variations in road conditions should be expected based on treatment plans and the timing of the snow squalls. Snow amounts may vary slightly from forecast, but should generally be within the expected range.

FUTURE SNOW OUTLOOK

Lake effect snow will persist Wednesday night into Thursday for the northern and eastern Finger Lakes. Several inches of additional accumulation will be possible in some areas.

No precipitation is expected Friday through at least Tuesday and probably Wednesday next week.

FUTURE UPDATES

  • Regularly scheduled Wednesday morning post (Between 7-8 AM Wednesday)
  • Snow Report: Wednesday Night-Thursday (Between 4-7 PM Wednesday)

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

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Meteorologist Drew Montreuil
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 and also run a goat milk soap business, Ye Olde Goat Cart. When not working or playing with the boys, he is probably out for a run through the countryside.