What Has Changed
The forecast for tonight continues to be a difficult one, but the forecast is coming into a better focus in the hours leading up to the start of the event.
If you have followed me over this winter or any previous one, you know that I make a real effort to publish one single snow map for an event. I do my best not to chase the shifts in the models and to make forecasts that account for and transcend the model noise.
However, there are times when exceptions should be made, and this is one of those times.
The forecast this morning was still very unclear with two main camps in the models. One camp kept the heaviest snow bands east of I-81. The other camp, which included the two models I prefer, had the band near or west of I-81.
Since then, both west-leaning models have shifted east to varying degrees. The European model has shifted far to the east and is now in line with the models in the eastern camp, which remain mostly unchanged.
This has led me to revise my snow map with an almost across-the-board lowering of snow amounts, and an increase in the confidence rating from “low” to “medium”.
With the removal of the snow band to the east, it will be harder for the snow to accumulate with the marginal temperatures. Still, it should snow hard enough overnight for several inches across most of the area, but elevation will have a greater impact on those snow totals.
There is still plenty of uncertainty in how this all plays out, especially near the lakes, in the broader valleys, and in urbanized areas. The snow amounts shown for the individual cities are a middle-of-the-road estimation and could still vary.
Again, I do not like to change forecasts unless there is a compelling reason to do so. I hope that my transparency with what I saw this morning vs what I see now is helpful and informative.
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With regard to the timing of the snow and travel impacts, here is the latest.
As of 3 PM, precipitation was starting to cross into New York State from the south-southwest. This is mostly falling as rain, but the western Southern Tier is changing over to snow.
This will take place throughout the Finger Lakes in the 4-8 PM timeframe, from southwest to northeast. Generally, travel conditions should remain in decent shape, even for a while after the snow begins.
As temperatures settle in the low to mid 30s and snowfall rates increase during the latter half of the evening hours, road conditions will deteriorate.
The highest snowfall rates are expected between roughly 10 PM and 5 AM. The snow will be heaviest and longest lasting in the I-81 region. Snow rates will rapidly diminish between 6-10 AM, and the snow will have a much harder time accumulating once the sun rises.
Allow for extra travel time this evening and tomorrow morning, just in case. If you have overnight or pre-dawn travel plans, especially in the eastern half of the region, be prepared for periods of heavy snow and mid-winter driving conditions.
This graphic represents an average over the entire Finger Lakes region. Localized variations should be expected.
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