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Jeremy Kappell

Dynamic Storm to Pack a Punch with High Winds/Snow to much of Region

The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Watch for much of Western and Northern New York.  

National Weather Service Buffalo NY
Tue Feb 25 2020

Niagara-Orleans-Northern Erie-Genesee-
Including the cities of Niagara Falls, Medina, Buffalo,
and Batavia
...WINTER STORM WATCH IN EFFECT FROM WEDNESDAY EVENING THROUGH
THURSDAY AFTERNOON...

* WHAT...Heavy snow possible. Total snow accumulations of 4 to 8
  inches possible. Winds could gust as high as 45 mph resulting in
  significant blowing snow.
* WHERE...Niagara, Orleans, Northern Erie, and Genesee counties.
* WHEN...From Wednesday evening through early Thursday afternoon.

* IMPACTS...Travel could be difficult with very poor visibility
  and snow covered roadways. The hazardous conditions could impact
  the morning commute on Thursday.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...
Begin needed preparations at home or with your vehicle. Travel
may become difficult, so plan accordingly.

*******************************************************************************************************************************************************************

So we've been talking about this storm for about a week now (while it was over the Western Pacific Ocean!) and while timing remains on track for Wednesday night/Thursday, models are still having a difficult time resolving exactly how it will come together.  

You may have caught my earlier post about the 12z GFS.  If we were still a week away, it could be easily labeled fantasy storm and we move on.   However, that is not the case, so let's take a closer look.

The GFS, as have all the forecast models over the last couple of days, continue to shift the primary low further east and south.  Only today, it also bombs the system out. Think "bomb cylone" or "meteorological bomb".. meaning it drops the central low pressure over 24 mb/24 hrs.  In this case, it drops it about 35 mb going from a weak 1006 mb low over the Smokey Mountains to a 971 mb beast across exteme Eastern Lake Ontario by early Thursday.  Wow.  

Comparing the Models

Without getting into why the GFS is behaving this way, it might be better to focus this discussion on a comparison between the other, usually reliable, forecast models at this range.  Below you will find the Euro from last night on the left and the new run of the NAM on the right.

Some observations: first the storm is not nearly as wound up as the GFS.  Both models are showing a still potent, but not as strong low pressure at around 990 mb Thursday morning.  Both, like the GFS have shifted the primary low again further east and south from previous runs and the Euro has a very similar position the the current run of the GFS. 

With that being said, if you want to get a more conservative idea of what this system might bring us, then we can just focus on the projections from the above mentioned Euro and NAM which are still showing plenty of wind and in some cases plenty of snow too.  Both models are advertising widespread 45-50 mph wind gusts Thursday.  This would be enough to cause some issues in the form of downed trees and some power outages.  If the GFS verifies, then damaging winds are likely. 

As far as snow is concerned, the new data from both models show a general consensus of 6 to 12 inches from near Rochester and points west towards Buffalo and much lighter amounts for the central/eastern Finger Lakes through the day on Thursday. This does not reflect the amount of additional lake effect that can be expected through the weekend which cound be considerable.  These amounts should at the very least warrant the issuance of both Wind and Winter Weather Advisories IF NOT Watches/Warnings for wind/snow and low visibilities.  This does include the potential of "blizzard conditions" at times Thursday producing very low visibilities and very tough travel conditions.  

But what about the GFS? 

While I'm porposely NOT including GFS snowfall projections here, but because the models are really struggling to keep up, and also because we are so near this event, I felt it was important to draw attention to what the GFS is saying.  While I think it is far more likely that the GFS, as it often times does, is over doing it.  However, even if you take a grain of what it is saying and combine that with the Euro/NAM solution, then gues what, much of Western New York including Rochester still has a problem.

Needless to say, it will be a busy couple of days as we try to keep ahead of this storm.  Yes, that's right, I'm calling it a storm.   

See you guys with a full update starting with your PM Drive at 4:45 this afternoon and again on the Big Show tonight at 8:45.  See you then!

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