Tuesday Afternoon/Evening Snow Squall Concerns

The final day of 2019 looks relatively uneventful in terms of the weather.  Our rain system exited the region overnight, and the large upper level low pressure is lingering over the Great Lakes, pushing eastward.  That has left us with mainly cloudy skies, and temperatures in the upper 30s to near 40°.
 
As we move through the afternoon hours… we’ll have temps holding in the upper 30s to low 40s around the region.  Clouds will mix with some breaks of sun, out ahead of a frontal boundary that will swing through later this afternoon and evening.  As it moves through, wind gusts will increase out of the west… and a few snow showers or snow squalls are possible.
 
-Summary-
Timing: 4pm to 9pm
Concern: localized bursts of snow
Hazard: Rapidly changing conditions possible
– Visibility near zero for a short time
– quick dusting to half inch in some spots
– icy / snow covered roads possible
The futurecast radar from 2pm to 11pm shows the squall line moving from west to east… but the Catskills are notorious for chewing up squall lines, and today won’t be much different.  The squalls over central NY will be heavier and more pronounced.  As they move into the Catskills, the squalls will still pack a punch.  Then once they clear the Catskills into the Hudson Valley, we’ll have to see what’s left.
 
We do expect that a few of the squalls will make it into the HV, and could cause some locations to have rapidly changing conditions.  Visibility could be fine one minute, and you drive into a wall of snow, dropping visibility down to a few hundred feet in seconds.  Additionally, rapid accumulation of a coating of snow, could cause road conditions to vary over short distances as well.  Keep this in mind if travelling near sunset this evening.  We will try to have additional updates as the squall line approaches

Sunday Ice Storm Discussion : Elevation is Everything

Understandably with the Ice Storm Warnings being issued for Sullivan, W. Ulster, W. Greene, and Delaware counties… some anxiety and concern has arisen among the viewership. This post will seek to help people determine whether or not they need to be on alert, or they can allow their mind to ease a bit.

The concern for an ice storm is primarily for the following zones in the Hudson Valley:
Highest Concern: Zone 1, 2 and 5
Slightly less concern: Zone 4 and 6


The first image, is an image long in the making. We have created an HVW zone map guide so that you everyone can better determine what zone they live in. Each zone has towns/cities listed alphabetically. Not EVERY town will be listed, but everyone should be able to find a town within 5 miles of their location. If your town isn’t in the zones of concern, then you are not expected to see significant icing.


The second image is the latest estimate of ice accumulation from this storm. Chances are, the amounts are a bit aggressive, but you can see the focus of concern is clearly on the Catskills. Zones 1, 2 and 5 have a lot of area above 1,250 feet in elevation… and it is in those areas where the severest icing is possible. The higher elevations of zone 4 and 6 are above 1,000 feet in elevation. Those areas could also see significant and potentially damaging icing. Temperatures are obviously critical… and the difference between 31 and 33 degrees will be the difference between downed trees and power lines… and plain rain.  The possible damage could be severe, especially in places that never get above 32 degrees.

Hopefully the computer guidance is slightly too cold, and more areas end up being above 32 degrees in the Catskills. But we are seeing enough data suggesting a potentially damaging ice event in the high elevations over 1000 feet… that we want to make sure our viewers in those areas are fully prepared. The event begins after 3pm today.

We will have more information as we can share it…

Saturday Discussion : Winter Break

Winter… has gone on break.  At least that’s how it feels at the moment.  The weather pattern is a mild one, with cold air rather difficult to come by.  Even so, we may have some issues to contend with Sunday night in the Catskills… let’s talk about it.

Saturday looks great… for late December.  Sunshine mixing with fair weather clouds, and afternoon temps in the 40s.  Partly cloudy skies Saturday night will allow temps to tumble below freezing once again.  Sunday we’ll watch clouds increase ahead of our next storm system, as temps climb into the low 40s once again.

A storm system will cut into the Great Lakes, spreading rain out ahead of it.  There is no arctic air in place, so we won’t even see a ‘snow to ice to rain’ scenario, it’s just a cold rain… with an exception…

Cold air in Canada will be pushed into New England by a departing high pressure.  Parts of Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts are in for quite a bit of sleet and snow.  In the Hudson Valley, it should be just warm enough for rain… from Kingston, to Poughkeepsie, to Newburgh and points south and west.  However, in the higher elevations of Ulster, Sullivan, Delaware and Greene counties, temperatures may hover right near the 32° mark.  The upper atmosphere is not cold enough for snow… but temperatures at the surface in locations above 1000 feet may be just cold enough for freezing rain to develop.  It’s an increasing concern we’ve had over the past 48 hours, as we watch this storm approach.  Once again… the valley areas look like rain, (that could possibly taper as some wet snow flakes Monday night)… but higher elevations (you know who you are)… need to monitor the forecast in the next day or so.

Hope everyone gets off to a good start on your Saturday!

Long Range Outlook : Late December into Early January

After an active and wintry first half of December, things have slowed down considerably across the Hudson Valley and northeast.  That’s due to a massive area of high pressure over the US, that has diverted storms around the region… and allowed a mild Pacific air mass to take over the United States.  So while we have a bit of a lull in the action, lets analyze December so far… followed by what we have coming our way in the next 2 to 3 weeks.

December so Far…

After the first 20 days of December, the bulk of the country has been near, to just a bit above average.  The primary exception being Minnesota and the Northeast, where it’s been a few degrees below average.  So locally, in the Hudson Valley… it’s been quite a cold December.  Along with that cold, has been some snow.  Most of the region reached or exceeded the average December snowfall by the 2nd day of the month…

Location was critical to how much snow you’ve seen in December so far, with 90%+ of the snowfall for the month coming in the first 2 days.  But with the average being about 8.6″ for the month in the city of Poughkeepsie… despite the fact that things have quieted down recently, most places will see the month finish near or above average in terms of snowfall.  Looking at the pattern for the next 10 days, it seems like chances are rather good that the map above won’t change much for the remainder of December.

Looking Forward: End of December & Early January

So as we approach Christmas, and the week leading up to the New Year, things are likely to warm up significantly around the Hudson Valley.  If we take a look at the upper air pattern, or ‘jet stream’, we can get an idea of how things are shaping up for the next week or so…

If you like wintry weather… this pattern is about the worst thing you could ask to see.  The strong ridge over the eastern US will allow above average temperatures to take hold.  A persistent SW flow, will mean any storms that threaten the region over the next 7 days will be rain, and not snow.  At the same time, the western US will be cold and stormy, with chances for snow in the higher elevations.  If we look at the projected temperatures compared to average for the same time frame… the phrase we would use in the ‘weather biz’ would be “blowtorch”…

If we take the temperatures over the next 7 days… and average those together… we’re looking at temperatures above, to well above average for late December.  All the cold air is bottled up in northern Canada, or the western US.  The upper air pattern won’t allow for the cold air to drop into the United States… at least not until we get closer to the New Year.  That will mean above average temperatures… and minimal, if any, chances for snow between now and January 1st.

But as we look into the start of 2020… things are likely to begin to turn more wintry.  The upper air pattern appears likely to turn colder, and more favorable for wintry weather…

While not as warm as the pattern shown earlier… this pattern is colder, but not ‘arctic’.  That blue ring of cold in the arctic, at the top of the image… shows a very strong polar vortex in the arctic.  That means the bulk of the coldest air will be bottled up in the arctic, not invading Canada and the northern US.  However… this image is for nearly 2 weeks out… so a lot can change in that time.  But as the pattern looks now, the start of January looks colder than the end of December… but that won’t be difficult, considering how warm the end of December looks.

The early part of January currently appears likely to be near or slightly below average with temperatures… and with an active storm track, giving us chances at winter storms.  Time will tell… to see how things ultimately unfold.  But winter will be on a slight hiatus for a week or so.  We’ll be here with you the whole way, giving you updates as we head into the new year.

Happy holidays, Hudson Valley!  Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy New Year!!

Saturday Discussion: Winter Arrives

With the winter officially kicking off at 11:19pm tonight, we’ll actually see Mother Nature give us a bit of a reprieve from the biting cold.  Temperatures haven’t gotten above freezing since Wednesday afternoon, and even then it was only in the mid 30s.  So the coming few days will feel mild in comparison.

Unfortunately… the timing is a bit of a bummer for anyone hoping for a white Christmas.  This warmup will reduce our chances of a White Christmas to approximately 0.001% ?. So on the downside, no White Christmas this year… but on the upside, any holiday plans will NOT be affected by the weather.

So for Saturday afternoon, sunshine will be filled through high clouds.  Cold air will be reluctant to give way, so afternoon highs will only reach the low to mid 30s.  Overnight lows will not be as cold as recent nights, but still dripping into the low and mid 20s.

Sunday we’ll see a big improvement, with temps jumping into the low and mid 40s in the afternoon under a mostly sunny sky.  Things get even milder on Monday, as highs ‘surge’ into the upper 40s and possibly low 50s… which will feel like spring compared to our weather of the last week.  

We’ll try to take a look at the longer range, beyond Christmas Day, in the next day or so.  Winter may have officially arrived, with milder temps on the way… but Winter’s identity crisis will only be temporary.  Signs of more wintry conditions are on the horizon, as we approach the new year.  Have a great start to your weekend!!

Wednesday Discussion : Snow Squalls and Arctic Cold

Update as of 1:30pm
As we watch the arctic front rotating into the Hudson Valley, it’s touching off the first band of snow squalls in Sullivan and Delaware counties. These bands extend through Ulster County (where the snow band is weaker) on into northern Dutchess and Columbia counties.
These squalls are touching off “Snow Squall Warnings” in Sullivan county. These squalls won’t hit everyone, but where they do, it will result in…
– Heavy snow at rates over 1″ per hour
– Blowing snow, with wind gusts over 30mph
– Snow covered & icy roads
– Potential white out conditions w/ zero visibility
 
These events result in drastic changes in conditions over short distances. You may be driving with partly cloudy skies, then the skies cloud over… and the horizon turns gray, and the next thing you know, you can’t see 100 feet in front of your vehicle. Make sure you’re aware of the conditions where you are. A quick dusting to an inch of snow is possible with these bands.

**UPDATED** Snowfall Forecast for Tuesday

Once we issue a Final Storm Forecast, if we have to make a change… it’s because we see a significant change to the details for a portion of the Hudson Valley.  Unfortunately, we’ve seen signs that strongly suggest warmer air at the mid levels of the atmosphere… will cause more areas to see a prolonged period of sleet and freezing rain.  Accordingly, we have lowered the snowfall forecast for the Mid and Lower Hudson Valley.
 
– Catskills & Upper HV (Zone 1,2, N3, N4) : 3 to 8 inches
– Mid HV & S. Catskills (Zone S3, S4, 5,6,7) : 1 to 3 inches
– Lower HV (Zone 8 & 9) : Coating to 2″ + .25″ freezing rain
For areas near, and just north of I-84… it appears an extended period of sleet is likely, as well as some freezing rain mixing in.  From I-84 on south, a coating to 2 inches is likely, followed by an extended period of sleet and freezing rain.  For these reasons, as well as a pocket of dry air expected in the Hudson Valley during the time when snow was projected… snow totals have been lowered.
 
But make no mistake, the lower snow totals come at a cost… and that cost is ice.  The snow is being replaced by sleet and freezing rain, so despite lower snow totals, conditions will likely be worse in the areas in question.  Travel will be very hazardous Tuesday morning.  Snow and ice will be a problem, even if the ratio of snow to ice ends up being different than projected earlier.  We did an hour livestream detailing the changes in the forecast, for anyone looking for more details.
 
We’ll have more updates as the storm unfolds Tuesday morning.

Final Winter Storm Forecast : Mon 12/16 – Tue 12/17

Here is our final forecast for this storm system.  We have a few additional details to discuss, with freezing rain becoming an increasing concern for portions of the valley.  However, the basic structure of this storm remains the same.

Timeline (Tuesday):
– 9pm to 1am : Snow develops from SW to NE
– 11pm to 5am : Steady snow mixes with sleet and freezing rain south of I-84
– 5am to 10am : Upper HV = Snow, Mid HV= Snow/sleet, Lower HV = sleet/frz rain
– 10am to 2pm : Snow / Mix tapers off from west to east

Impact:
– Treacherous Tuesday AM commute
– Icy and snow covered roads
– Widespread school closures expected
– Mostly snow likely north of I-84
– Snow likely changes to sleet/freezing rain mix south of I-84
– Concern of power outages from freezing rain south of I-84

Snow Accumulation:
– Mid & Upper HV & Catskills (Zone 1 thru 7): 3 to 7 inches [less than 0.10″ ice]
– Lower HV (Zone 8): 2 to 4 inches [0.10″ to 0.25″ ice]
– Extreme Lower HV (Zone 9): 1 to 3 inches [0.10″ to 0.30″ ice]
** significant icing possible in parts of lower HV **

More discussion here shortly…

Sunday Night Storm Discussion : On Target for Tuesday

Summary:
– Start time projected 9pm – 1am Monday Night
– Extended period of snow, with wintry mix possible
– Best chance of sleet and freezing rain I-84 on south
– Snow/Mix tapers off early Tuesday afternoon
 
We’ve got our preliminary forecast in place at this time, but as we get closer to the start of the winter storm, we continue to get more data, and a more clear picture of how this storm might play out.  This storm will push NE on Monday, but the radars early on Monday may look like the snow is about to begin… but the primary energy will linger back in the Tennessee valley, delaying the start time of this system.
 
We’ve continued to try and focus in on the snow/mix line, and where it will set up.  The snow/mix line has steadily shifted south over the last day or so… taking the Hudson Valley from concerns of an extended period of freezing rain, to an extended period of snow, with some mixing possible.
 
The Tuesday AM commute is going to be a real mess, with a period of moderate snow likely, possibly mixed with sleet at that time.  We would expect extensive school delays & closings, as well as very difficult travel conditions for those who must commute.  Be sure to plan for a longer than usual commute on Tuesday morning.  It’s possible this storm lingers long enough to cause issues for the PM commute as well.  We’ll have to monitor the progression of the storm.
 
With regards to snowfall accumulations… latest guidance suggests the ranges from the preliminary forecast may be a bit low.  For now, the preliminary forecast holds… but we would anticipate accumulations closer to the high end of the forecast ranges.  That means accumulations of 3, 4 or 5 inches being common for much of the HV… if the guidance trend it correct.
 
We will continue to look at this overnight, and have our Final Storm Forecast in the morning on Monday.  Have a nice evening!

Preliminary Winter Storm Forecast : Mon 12/16 – Tue 12/17

Half way through the month of December, and the winter season has gotten off to a quick start, with another winter storm on the horizon.  There are some changes to how this storm will play out.  This storm will not be as strong as it initially appeared, making freezing rain less likely for the HV.  In addition, it looks likely to start quite a bit later than originally believed.

Timeline (Tuesday):
– 12am to 6am : Snow develops from south to north
– 6am to 12pm : Snow mixes with sleet and freezing rain south of I-84
– 12pm to 4pm : Snow/mix tapers off from west to east

Impact:
– Hazardous Tuesday AM commute likely
– Icy and snow covered roads, especially untreated roads
– PM commute could still be slick
– Mostly snow likely north of I-84
– Snow likely changes to sleet/freezing rain mix south of I-84

Snow Accumulation:
– Majority of HV & Catskills (Zone 1 thru 7): 2 to 5 inches
– Lower HV (Zone 8 & 9): Coating to 3 inches

Detailed Discussion:

When this storm first appeared on guidance, it looked to have major potential.  5 days ago, the computer models were suggesting a foot of snow was possible.  Then about 3 days ago, the models trended further north… and it appeared very likely that we would see a snow to ice to rain scenario.  However, in the past day or two, the models have caught on to the idea that this storm will be weaker than originally projected.  The side effects of that adjustment, are 2 fold:  It means less warm air… and less total moisture to work with.  So lets take a look at the current setup for this storm, and how we expect it to unfold.

Futurecast Radar: 12am Monday through 7pm Monday

This futurecast loop explains why the start time has now been pushed back until after midnight Monday night.  Early on Monday, a band of overrunning snow breaks out over Ohio and Pennsylvania, pushing eastward.  However the main energy from this storm is so far away (Tennessee), that the dry air at the mid levels over the Hudson Valley holds.  The result is the snow band falls apart Monday afternoon, and except for maybe some snow showers south of I-84 Monday afternoon… the first wave of snow does not reach our area.

Finally after midnight, the moisture begins to push northward, into the Hudson Valley.  This will make for a very nasty Tuesday AM commute.  Everyone will start out as snow, but the precise details on how far that snow/mix line pushes north, remains to be seen.  Latest guidance has pushed this snow/mix line further south.  At this time, the best bet for all snow is areas north of I-84… and areas from I-84 on south, are likely to mix with and change to sleet and freezing rain for a period of time Tuesday morning into the afternoon.  Expect a good number of school delays and cancellations, due to the timing of this event and the likelihood for snow and ice accumulation.

For planning purposes, due to the limited moisture this system will possess, an all snow event does not mean significantly higher accumulations.  We’re starting out with 2 to 5 inches for areas where it stays mostly snow… and a coating to 3 inches where sleet mixes and changes over.  The snow/sleet and freezing rain should begin to exit the Hudson Valley between 12pm and 4pm Tuesday afternoon.  However, if the snow and ice linger into the mid and late afternoon, it could cause complications for the Tuesday PM commute… something to keep in your mind.

Again, this storm isn’t about the amount of snow and ice… we expect roughly 0.5″ of liquid precipitation.  It’s the combination of accumulating snow and ice accretion, during key times of the day, that could cause rather large headaches around the region.  We’ll target releasing the “Final Storm Forecast” on Monday morning, since this storm’s start time is now around midnight.  Have a nice Sunday afternoon!