Wednesday AM Winter Storm Update: A Northward Nudge

finger lakes weather forecast wednesday december 16 2020 snow storm snow map snow amounts noreaster
Confidence is increasing in a more northerly track that will result in higher snow totals across the Finger Lakes.

Storm Details

The first significant snow of the season will fall tonight, especially across the southern half of the Finger Lakes and into the Southern Tier.

Low pressure is developing this morning off the coast of South Carolina and will intensify as it lifts north along the coast. By tomorrow morning, the low should be south of Long Island as it turns east and tracks out into the Atlantic.

Meanwhile, high pressure has parked itself just north of the International Border north of Vermont and will move little over the duration of this event.

The high pressure will ensure there is plenty of cold air and will lead to a slower storm speed, increasing both the snow duration and intensity.

In yesterday morning’s post, I described the tight snowfall gradient expected along the northern edge of this system, which will be over the Finger Lakes. In particular, I said, “… our snow amounts are extremely sensitive to slight variations in the track. A shift of a mere 20-30 miles further north could double many of the snow amounts…”

Over the last 24-hours, that shift has become increasingly likely, which has resulted in my issuing a second and final snow map for this storm.

The extreme snow, with snowfall rates commonly over 2”/hr, is still expected to stay near and south of the NY-PA State Line. However, several hours of snowfall rates over 1”/ hr are now expected throughout the southern half of the Finger Lakes.

This will result in about a foot of snow from Wellsville to Bath to Ithaca, while the Elmira area sees more like 18”. Snow totals drop rapidly to the north, with around 6” for Canandaigua, Geneva, and Auburn.

The snow amounts will continue to be sensitive to the storm track and any other slight variations. This map attempts to anticipate those and represents the most likely scenario. However, amounts will likely vary, so keep the uncertainty in mind.

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Storm Impacts

The snow will enter the region from the south during the mid and late afternoon hours. The counties bordering Pennsylvania could see snow by 2 or 3 PM, reaching I-90 by 5 PM. Within an hour or two of the first flakes, snowfall rates south of I-90 could begin to approach a half-inch per hour. That will be enough to make the evening commute sloppy.

Temperatures throughout the event will be in the low and mid 20s, which should help produce large, fluffy snowflakes that accumulate quickly.

The heaviest snow will move in between roughly 10 PM and 4 AM. Between 4 AM and 8 AM, snow intensities will quickly drop from northwest to southeast as the storm pulls away.

Still, the morning commute is expected to be very difficult. Plan for at least double the normal commute time, and many rural roads in the pink and purple zones on the map will be nearly impassable.

Sunshine should appear behind the storm in the late morning and early afternoon, helping travel conditions improve through the day.

Thankfully, winds will be relatively light with this system. Winds will start from the east this evening, then turn to the northeast and north overnight. Wind speeds will be under 10 mph with gusts no higher than 20 mph. Minor blowing and drifting will occur along east-west roads.

High temperatures on Thursday should reach the upper 20s with a few low 30s. Clear skies Thursday night will allow temperatures to fall into the teens away from the lakes, and areas that have a significant snowpack could see pockets fall into the single digits. Similar or even colder temperatures are expected Friday night.

I will post an update this afternoon as the snow starts to come in, specifically looking at the afternoon and evening commute. I will have a regularly scheduled morning post tomorrow, possibly with a storm summary post in the afternoon.

Stay safe and please let me know how much snow you receive! Please feel free to ask me your specific questions, but please look at the map for “how much snow will I receive” questions, if possible. Thanks!

More Information:

» Finger Lakes Weather Radar

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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 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.

12 Responses

  1. kadison Byrnes-Shaver
    |

    Just got stuck on 90 between Kinney gulf road and homer. Had to turn around there was so much snow on the road. I learned how to drive in the foothills of the Adirondacks and never had to do what I did tonight to get home. There were two other cars that had to do the same thing with me. Drive safe out there if your out

    • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil
      |

      Glad you were able to get out and are safe!

  2. Kathryn
    |

    2:30 PM
    Roads have about 1/2″ of snow in Slaterville.

    • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil
      |

      Thank you, Kathryn!

  3. Margaret Manring
    |

    My kids are leaving Skaneateles for Lexington, KY tomorrow morning. We were so hoping the edge of this storm would not impinge on the route to Cleveland and south. Do you have any suggestions for departure time to avoid as much of the snow as possible?

    • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil
      |

      Hi Margaret! The snow should taper off between 7-9 AM in Skaneateles. Since the storm will be heading east, and I assume your children will be going west initially, conditions should only improve as they continue on. Given that accumulations along I-90 won’t be too excessive, they should not have many issues if they leave in that window. There may be a few more flurries back by Rochester from Lake effect off Lake Ontario, but nothing to cause any delays.

  4. Mary
    |

    Hi! I’m working in Endicott today but live in Lansing. When should I leave Endicott for Lansing later today? I’m hearing that driving will become impossible this afternoon?

    • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil
      |

      I would say leaving around 1 or 2 should get you home with little to no snow. I wouldn’t go so far as to say the drive will be impossible later on…but it will become increasingly difficult.

  5. […] Finger Lakes Weather‘s meteorologist Drew Montreuil said Wednesday morning that the storm nudging north means “about a foot of snow from Wellsville to Bath to Ithaca, while the Elmira area sees more like 18″.” He says the heaviest snowfall will be between 10pm and 4am. […]

  6. Carolyn
    |

    Thank you Drew! Always appreciate the no-hype scientific forecasts. I’m probably the only one with this question – any idea how Sat/Sun are looking? I need to travel through the Ithaca area and I’m a wimp about driving in snowy conditions. Thanks!

  7. Bonnie
    |

    Thank you so much, Drew! I’ve been waiting for YOUR reporting! Always an honest, no hype one. Thanks so much for all you do and the way you present it. I will be looking forward to further reports. Thank you again and a happy holiday season to you and yours. Stay safe, healthy and warm! ⛄️🌬🌲🎅🏼

    • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil
      |

      Happy Holidays!