A weak system pushing through the Hudson Valley on Tuesday, combining with considerable cold air, looked to provide a widespread 3 to 6… or even 4 to 8 inch snow across the region. As the system approached, the amount of moisture appeared to be slightly diminished. Here was the end result…
A widespread 3 to 6 inch area fell across the Mid Hudson Valley, with slightly lower totals in the upper Hudson Valley. There a general 2 to 4 inch snow fell. However, a dry slot of air pushed into the Lower Hudson Valley, and that cut off snow totals for our Rockland, Westchester and even some Putnam county viewers. There… the storm underperformed compared to the forecast.
A major winter storm targeted the Hudson Valley on the final night of January, and led to a very snowy start to February. Much of the region saw snow totals that were equal to or greater than almost all of the snow that fell in the 19-20 winter season. When we look back at this system, it behaved quite well, compared to what was expected.
The two areas of concern, with regard to snow totals… were Delaware county, and Columbia county. Downsloping was projected by some models, and as such, we highlighted the concern in our final forecast. Otherwise we went with 12″ to 20″. When the storm was over, the only locations that fell short of the 12″ range… were those in Columbia and Delaware counties… where 8″ to 12″ were found. On the other end, we had mentioned that there would be some banding that put people locally up to 24″. Sure enough, we have some outliers where Saugerties and Fishkill both reported 25.6″. This storm behaved quite well for the Hudson Valley, as the computer guidance had a really solid handle on how the storm would stall out and spin, sending wave after wave of heavy snow into the Hudson Valley. A very nice storm, for snow lovers, as the season total is now over 2x what most of us saw all of last winter, and its only February 3rd. There’s a lot of winter left on the table.
Looking Forward to the Next Storm?
In fact… the big buzz has been around the “next storm this weekend”. Well, as always… we’ll be monitoring the situation as we get closer. But we’re 5 full days away, and lets just say the storm we just went through… looked MUCH different last Thursday, which was only 4 days away. So there is plenty of potential opportunity. Right now, there is only a 33% chance of the storm hitting. As 2 of the 3 models we track in this timeframe, take the storm out to sea.
The European has been the only model to show the major storm solution for Sunday 2/7 into Monday 2/8. The model was extremely bold… showing a near repeat of our first storm. But each run since then, has looked less and less impressive, with a flattening of the wave… making it more likely to go out to sea in a future run.
The GFS has had no intention of bringing this storm up the coast. The energy wave is very flat, and unless something changes significantly, this solution is very likely to run straight out to sea, staying well south of the Hudson Valley.
The Canadian model offers an interesting solution, looking much less impressed with the energy that the first two models develop into a decent sized storm. Instead, it appears focused on the 2nd piece of energy, while the GFS and European ignore that energy all together.
The thing that makes the Canadian solution so interesting, is that it demonstrates there are other solutions that are possible. So computer models may look significantly different in a few days, than what we see now. We’ll be monitoring the trend here, to see if a big storm for Sunday/Monday remains likely. But for now… there is no agreement in the model data.
January has started out rather wintry around the Hudson Valley. First, we experienced a wintry mix of sleet and freezing rain on Friday of last week. That left us with many icy spots around the region Friday night into the wee hours of Saturday morning. Then we were left with the snow event from Sunday. The storm was not large or significant by any stretch, but it was certainly a sign of winter being present in the Hudson Valley. Lets take a look at what happened, and compare to what the HVW forecast was.
You can see that the heaviest snow was certainly in the Catskills, and just to the NW of our region. A few reports of 6″ or so in northern Sullivan and Delaware counties. Otherwise, a widespread 2 to 5 inches seems to have fallen across the bulk of the area. The lowest totals were in the NE Hudson Valley, but even there, a lot of 2 and 3 inch totals fell. So all in all, a small system, but a decent small system for an area that hasn’t seen a lot of snow in the past 24 months.
Now we’re going to get a bit of a break from the busy start to January, as our pattern looks dry and tranquil through at least the next 5 days. Temps will be near average, in the mid to upper 30s each afternoon… while dropping into the low and mid 20s for overnight lows. Friday into Saturday, a storm system will move through the SE US, and possibly bring snow to parts of Virginia and North Carolina, but that system is all but certain to push eastward… out to sea. That will mean a tranquil weekend for us in the Hudson Valley. Our next threat does not likely arrive until the early part of next week… when we will be watching another low pressure system in the Southeast US. There are signals that the system will pull northeastward, and could possibly be another snow threat for our area by Tuesday or Wednesday of next week… roughly 7 days from now.
So the next week or so looks quiet… but that may be a well deserved break, before the pattern really gets busy for the middle and latter part of January. A feature known as Sudden Stratospheric Warming is occurring at the top of the atmosphere. That feature in previous winters… has signaled the beginning of a very cold and active period of weather across the eastern US. We’ll have to keep our eyes on the pattern as a whole, but the early signs are that the model data is sensing this change in the overall pattern. So it appears that we could be very busy for the 2nd half of the month… we’ll let you know how it’s looking as we get closer to mid month.
Our first major winter storm of the season, and Poughkeepsie saw practically the same amount of snow between Wednesday and Thursday… as they saw for the entire 2019-2020 season. Poughkeepsie saw 15.0″ of snow per the National Weather Service report, just one inch less than the station recorded all season last year. So needless to say, the 2020-2021 winter is off to a fast start. So lets take a look at the performance of the HVW forecast, against the recorded results from the National Weather Service. Lets start by looking at the HVW forecast…
Now lets look at the snow history maps from the NWS and snow totals….
Hi-Resolution Snow History Map
In totality… our forecast was respectable, and was in the low end (or near the low end) of the forecast range. In our 10-18 inch forecast range for SE Orange, Rockland, Westchester, Putnam and extreme southern Dutchess counties. Based on the NWS data, in those areas, we saw a lot of 10″ to 12″ totals. Beacon, Cold Spring, New City, Warwick, Mahopac… all had 10 to 13 inches of snow. The Mid Hudson Valley was the region where snow totals were “underwhelming” in terms of the HVW forecast. A lot of 11″ to 14″ totals could be found. Very respectable totals, but a tick lower than the 16″ to 24″ which was forecast. Heading into the Upper Hudson Valley and Catskills… that 16 to 24 inch forecast worked out nicely, with a lot of 1.5 foot to 2 foot totals in those areas.
The forecast was well thought out, the only thing that could not be accounted for, was the track of the upper level low. When dealing with storm systems like this, the heaviest snow amounts are found just to the NW side of the upper low track.
It’s a subtle difference in the track of the upper level low (ULL). But on the north side of the upper level low, you find incredible upward motion that generates extremely heavy precipitation rates. That’s how we accounted for the tremendous snow totals near Binghamton, and extending to Albany and points north. The forecast track of the ULL would have move over NYC, putting the Hudson Valley in the band of heaviest snow. That was the primary motivation behind the 16 to 24 inch forecast across the Hudson Valley. Remember, we had multiple pieces of data that suggested that we were going to be under-done with our forecast.
The most conservative model at times shows this as the result… and the cause was the ULL track expectation to be over NYC. But in the end… the ULL was just a tiny bit stronger than projected… not even by 1 decameter. But that tiny difference, was enough to amplify the trough enough to track about 50 miles further north than expected. And that shift pushed the crippling snowfall to our north. A very close call… but we’re pretty sure that most people won’t hold it against us.
For the first storm of the year, it is going to be difficult to top. Odds are it will be the heaviest snow of the season in the northeast… and probably for the Hudson Valley. But considering how active the weather pattern looks, perhaps that won’t be the case. Time will tell. But we thank you all for tracking this storm with us. We greatly appreciate all of your support… and look forward to forecasting more storms for you as we go through the rest of December, and on into 2021.
The Hudson Valley does not experience tropical systems directly very often. That’s a very good thing. The topography and vegetation in our area are not conductive to sustained strong winds. If a severe thunderstorm pushes through with 55mph+ wind gusts, that can cause power outages in localized areas. So it comes as little surprise that with Tropical Storm Isaias left an ugly mark on our region over the past several days.
Reports of well over 300,000 power outages across the region. Our friends at Central Hudson alone had nearly 115,000 outages… and other suppliers reported over 213,000 outages. Many of these over 300,000 have been restored. However, some may not have power restored until after the coming weekend. That’s the kind of damage we saw in the especially hard hit areas of Orange, Southern Dutchess, Putnam, Rockland, and Westchester counties.
So looking back at the data so far, let’s start with the rainfall amounts, and those amounts were quite substantial…
This is a combination of rainfall map and rainfall reports from the National Weather Service. The totals may be slightly difficult to see, but you can see that the heaviest rainfall amounts were focused in the western HV and Catskills. This is due to the center of Isaias taking a track roughly from Sullivan County, through western Ulster County, and up into Greene County. The heaviest rains were on the western half of the storm, and you can see how that played out in reality. Newburgh only saw 1.81″ of rain on the eastern side of Orange county… while in the western edge of Orange county, Port Jervis saw roughly 4 inches of rain. Flooding concerns were focused mainly in the Catskills, where some areas saw upwards of 5 or 6 inches of rain in Greene and western Ulster counties.
When we talk about wind gusts… that’s where the bulk of the damage was generated. We said this storm would have 2 different sides, the side with torrential rains… and the side with potentially damaging wind gusts. So we just said the heaviest rains were in the Catskills… so that means the worst winds must have been in the SE Hudson Valley. This wind gust map shows the storm over the course of roughly 6 hours, in 15 minute increments.
Wind Gusts from 12pm to 5:30pm
This is NY state, and it shows wind gusts in MPH. The Hudson Valley is in the lower right quadrant, and you can see where the strongest wind gusts were focused. Here’s a rough scale of the wind gusts on this map: – Blue : less than 34mph – Greene : 35mph to 46mph – Orange : 47mph to 58mph – Red : 59mph to 68mph – Gray : 68mph or higher
The worst gusts start out in Orange, Rockland, Westchester county around 1pm… and push northward into Dutchess by 2pm. The worst winds are roughly between 2pm and 3:30pm in Dutchess, Putnam and Westchester counties. The closer to the NY/CT border you go, the worse the winds. Here are the reported gusts from the NWS:
A peak gust of 61mph at Bannerman Island… but multiple reports of wind gusts above 50mph can be found. The problem is not just the intensity of the peak wind gust… but the fact that gusts between 40mph and 60mph continued for roughly 2 hours in any location. A strong to severe summer time thunderstorm has gusts of that magnitude for 10 or 15 minutes… the gusts from Isaias lasted nearly 2 hours, and the result was that many of the trees and power lines in the region could not handle the power of the winds. The end result was what we saw… over 300,000 power outages in our region.
Hopefully in the coming days, we can get the damage cleaned up, and start getting power restored to all of our residents. For now, please think of your fellow Hudson Valley resident, and lend a helping hand if you can. We’re tough, Hudson Valley! We wish you all a safe and healthy remainder of the week.
On the back end of a lackluster winter, we weren’t going to do a full recap of the underwhelming winter storm from Monday, March 23rd. However, after reviewing some comments…
… we decided to do a quick recap. First is our final forecast, followed by the actual storm results…
In short… the forecast played out rather close to expected. The Catskills saw slightly less than expected, with totals much closer to the 5 or 6 inch amounts… than the 10 inch side of the 5 to 10 inch forecast. The 2 to 6 inch forecast area also saw totals on the lower end… much closer to 2 or 3 inches than the higher end of the range.
But hands down, the most criticized part of the forecast was the coating to 4 inch range for the Hudson Valley. Well, we overlayed that forecast range on the Snow History map. Zones 3,7 and 8 are boxed in black. The forecast there was for a coating to 4 inches. Reviewing totals in that area… we have 1″ in Hamptonburgh, 1.1″ in Poughkeepsie, 2.3″ in Red Hook, 3.5″ in Rosendale. If you look at the map and not the totals… you can see the pockets of higher snowfall in the higher elevations of Orange County, Putnam County and Dutchess County. Snowfall amounts were directly correlated to elevation, and widely ranging.
We thank you for the continued support, and truly love doing what we do. Sharing in the community is an awesome privilege, and makes everything worth while. We don’t mind if people disagree with our forecast. Often times a viewer will articulate that they think the setup will unfold differently, and the result will be different. It’s all about how you express your opinion. That said, we won’t hesitate to tell trolls where it’s at, when they post comments like these. lol.
We definitely kicked off the 19/20 winter season with a bang. An extremely complex winter storm impacted the Hudson Valley over nearly a 36 hour period in many places, and when all the snow flakes settled, we saw anywhere from 2 or 3 inches in parts of the lower HV… to over 2 feet of snow in the Catskills. Here are a series of maps we shared on Facebook earlier, followed by a short discussion. We’ll start with our forecast and compare it to what actually occurred, and snow totals from the NWS.
A fascinating range of snowfall amounts were observed around the region. From 2 inches in Nyack… to 25 inches in East Jewett. When dealing with a long duration event, especially one where at least 50% of the snow in most areas came in hours 30 to 36 of the event… a lot of people gave up on this storm, calling it a bust. We tried to highlight throughout the forecasting of this event, that much of it would be on the back end of the system… and that surprises would be common.
When all was said and done, we were pretty close with our forecast. The areas we did worst (and we’re nit picking), were really in the northern and eastern HV. In parts of SE Dutchess county… we were on the low end of our range, with a lot of 7″ amounts in the 6 to 12 range. And then in Putnam county, our 4 to 9 inch range saw a lot of 4 and 5 inch amounts. The reason being sleet was the dominant precipitation type on Sunday, and the snow was late to fill in over these areas Monday night. But we got where we need to be. Then the upper HV… we just didn’t go high enough in some areas. Upper zone 3 and 4, were in the 6 to 12… but we saw a lot of 12 t0 18 inch totals in the northern most areas. We had tried to indicate that some 12+ were possible in those regions… but they overachieved, due to the first wave being mainly snow for many… and piling up 5 to 10 inches on Sunday alone, then the snow just never stopped in some areas, as the storm pivoted on Monday. Albany saw this storm become a top 10 event!
But for most areas… this complex system was forecasted very well. A nice way to kick off the winter season. Here are some final maps from the different departments of the NWS. Thank you for all your support of HVW. It means the world to us! Have a great weekend!!
As we begin to look at the coming 2019-2020 winter, and speculate what awaits, lets take a look back at last winter… to see what actually occurred, as well as what we speculated would happen.
First, let’s start with our 18-19 Winter Outlook temperature projection:
We had projected below average temperatures in the SE half of the country, and above average temperatures in the NW half of the US. So lets take a look and see what actually happened…
Well… that’s kind of the opposite. Warm where it was supposed to be cold, and cold where we expected to see warmth. The winter actually started out as expected, with October, November and December, all looking the way we expected. Then things went off the rails in January, and we never got back to what was expected. So lets try and figure out where the outlook went wrong.
First, lets review what our sea surface conditions were projected to be in our winter outlook…
We had expected a weak El nino (A) and warmer water right along the US coast, with cooler water expected back toward Hawaii. Now lets see what actually occurred…
The area near (A) turned out right, with a weak El Nino. But the conditions near area (B) the Northeast Pacific Ocean, is where things didn’t go as planned. The differences may not appear dramatic, but they were enough to result in almost the inverse of the winter we expected. We circled 2 areas in the Pacific. The blue circle shows well above average temperatures in the ocean, but if you look at the projection, waters were expected to be cooler than average in that area. Looking to the brown circle, the sea surface was near to slightly below average… which is close to what the outlook had projected. But it’s the combination of the two circles that we think caused the outlook to bust.
Having the warmer pool of water (blue circle) off to the west of the cooler water (brown circle), while subtle, is the opposite of what we had projected. Here was the upper air pattern (jet stream) we had projected for last winter…
Here’s the ACTUAL upper air (jet stream) pattern that occurred last winter…
The pattern is almost opposite of what we projected… and our contention is that the warmer water NW of Hawaii and the cooler water to the east are the culprit. The warmer water influences a sustained ridge of high pressure, which is what we got over Hawaii, instead of the western US. The cooler water east of Hawaii favored a dip in the jet stream and a persistent trough out west. All of that leads to a reflexive ridge in the eastern US, leaving us milder than average. This is why we believe the pattern of the oceans is so important, because it’s not just the temperatures themselves… it’s how different regions relate to the surrounding waters. But ultimately… seasonal forecasting is an imperfect science.
Could We Have Done Better?
Of course we could have… because the outlook was nearly inverse of the result. But it’s important to remember, the winter outlook is built on assumptions made by computer models. When we create the outlook, we know what the current SST profile looks like, but we utilize computer data to estimate what the sea surface temperatures (SSTs) will look like in the coming winter. Most times, it’s close, or similar to what the current conditions are. However, if the actual SSTs end up being drastically different than the projected SSTs from the Winter Outlook… odds are, the outlook will be a bust.
So when asking if we could do better, the question really is, did the data give us clues that we might have missed? The answer to this question… is yes.
Remember, this is what the actual SSTs looked like. Notice the areas circled… lets compare the result, to the 2 computer models used…
This is actually quite interesting. Going back and reviewing this… we were rather shocked to see the exact pattern that resulted last winter, in each of the model data. Both the CFSv2 and JAMSTEC have the cooler waters to the east of the warmer waters in this key part of the world. This pattern would favor the dip in the jet out west, and the reflexive ridge over the southeast. It gives us pause as to how we did not give this more credence in the winter outlook last year. Was it a blind spot, or did we believe the cooler water east of Hawaii was too small and insignificant to make a difference? We’re not sure… but it’s very interesting for sure. Something we’ll be alert to when finalizing this year’s outlook, and beyond.
But in closing… we love putting together the winter outlook each year. It’s a complex look at multiple factors that will hopefully give us a preview of what the coming winter will hold. Clearly, as we always try to reiterate, it’s nearly 50% forecast, 50% entertainment… just because of the combination of forecasting 3 to 6 months into the future, and relying heavily on computer data to do it. But with that said, we’re always trying to fine tune our methods and learn from our mistakes. If we can eliminate as many blind spots as possible, we can give the most accurate outlook possible. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this review of last winter’s outlook, as we prepare for the release of the 19-20 winter outlook. Thank you for all your support!
Our weak snow to sleet and rain event from Sunday, served as a late season reminder that winter still has it’s grip on the northeast and Hudson Valley. We projected a widespread coating to 2 inches in the valley, with perhaps up to 2 to 5 inches in the Catskills. What actually happened, was pretty close to that…
We didn’t put out a snowmap, because of the weakness and insignificance of the overall storm. But pretty much everyone from I-84 on south saw less than an inch, before melting began. The eastern Catskills did the best, with widespread 1 to 3 inch amounts… and some 4″ amounts in the highest elevations.
But now, as we move into the work week… the sun has returned, and temperatures are climbing well into the 40s. This should melt the remaining snowpack in most areas. We’ll see a sharp NW wind usher in colder air for Tuesday and Wednesday… before a SURGE of warmth floods northward by the week’s end. Highs in the 50s and near 60° are likely by the end of the week. A sign that spring is beginning to strengthen it’s grip.
We will likely see 1 more blast of winter weather between March 17th and March 25th… where we could see a threat of one final winter storm. Once we get through that… it appears that springtime weather will begin to settle in, and winter… may finally be beaten.
More updates through the week, but for now… this week’s weather looks quiet and chilly, through mid week. Have a great start to the week!
The winter of 2018-2019 has been consistent. Storm after storm sees snow develop around the region, with a low pressure that cuts inland to our west. That sends warm air surging northeastward, over the cold air at the surface. The end result, is snow to sleet to freezing rain… and possibly even rain. Tuesday was no different, and much of the Hudson Valley looks like a mini-glacier, because of the 2 to 4 inches of glazed ice covering everything.
So lets press the “rewind” button, and look at how the forecast performed. As usual, we’ll start with the Final Forecast, the Storm History Map, and the NWS snow totals.
As it turned out, our preliminary forecast was even better than our final forecast. We increased the snowfall ranges by an inch or two on Monday night, because some of the data we were seeing was suggesting the warm wedge of air would be delayed. However, that thin wedge of warmth would not be delayed or denied, and the changeover to sleet occurred right in the projected timeframe.
The result was widespread snowfall reports of 2 to 5 inches all around the Hudson Valley. That snowfall was followed by moderate accumulations of sleet, leaving many with 4 or 5 inches of sleet and snow to clear by Wednesday morning. If you compare the forecast to what the result was… only the Catskills were possibly a hair underdone. With many reports in the 4 to 7 inch range… the preliminary forecast would have been perfect for the Catskills. That said… many reports of 5 or 6 inches in the Catskills still falls within the 5 to 9 inch range.
Also, we received many concerned questions and comments leading up to the storm, because of other forecasts that were significantly more than what we were projecting. For instance, the National Weather Service had Orange county in a 5 to 7 inch range, Dutchess county in a 6 to 8 inch range, and Ulster county in a 5 to 8 inch range. Our forecast for all 3 areas was 2 to 6 inches, and was originally 2 to 5 inches. The end result for this entire area ended up being 2 to 5 inches in general, before a rapid transition to sleet.
It just highlights why we try not to focus on any other forecast leading up to a storm. To say that the NWS and Weather Channel projections didn’t influence our thinking in the final forecast, wouldn’t be totally honest. When you make a prediction, and everyone else has a prediction for nearly twice what you’re projecting… it requires a bit of confidence to hold your ground and not be influenced. However, at the end of the day… the totality of our forecast (impacts, timing and accumulations)… was something we are very happy with an proud of. We hope that you found the forecast to be helpful in preparing you for what to expect. Our #1 goal is to keep you a step ahead of the storm… and our forecast on this event did that.
Thank you for all your continued support. It’s what keeps us going and motivated. Have a great day!