Thursday, January 29, 2009

Groundhog Day Speculation

The meteorological community is abuzz with excitement today. Numerous models are all in agreement with a major storm coming up out of the Gulf of Mexico Monday and then sitting somewhere over the Northeast Tuesday into Wednesday. I thought that with all the hype around this storm already, people might be curious what I think.

First and for most, I will play the broken record and say what I normally do: It is WAY too far out. The models have been showing a storm and are all in pretty good agreement with that, so I do think a storm system will form in the Gulf of Mexico and move north. Beyond that point is where I feel it is too early to place much weight in the models with the track and strength of the storm.

Just to speculate though, here are a couple scenarios that could happen.

The Groundhog Day Blizzard: This scenario would take the low pressure system up the Eastern Seaboard to near New York City, where it would then sit for about 12 hours before heading north. For the first time now in a few years, the atmosphere is getting clogged at the perfect time for a blizzard. The models show an area of low pressure over Greenland, with a strong High over northeastern Canada. This will impede the progress of the coastal storm. This would be the perfect set up for probably the biggest snow storm Central New York has seen in a few years.

The Slop Storm: This scenario would have the storm coming up the Appalachians and either over northeast Pennsylvania and Eastern New York, or right over top of us in the Finger Lakes. This track would give us a mix of precipitation. Some warm air will be in place ahead of this storm, so our precipitation would likely start as either rain, or sleet and freezing rain. As the low tracked towards us, warmer air would come up, and we would go over to rain for a while. Then, as the low moved to our northeast, strong northwest winds would come in and change us back to snow for a moderate snowfall. If I had to guess, I would say this is the most likely scenario at this time. Will it happen? Only time will tell.

February Flooding: The final scenario has the low moving up the west side of the Appalachians. This would pound Ohio with a heavy snow, but for us in Central New York, it would mean a big warm up, probably at least into the 40s, with a soaking rain. Currently there is anywhere from 2 to as much as 10 inches of water equivalent sitting over top of us. That means if all the snow was to melt, that is how much rain it would equal. If even half of that snow pack melted rapidly, plus an inch or more of rain fell, there could be some major flooding problems.

Now, all of these situations focus on the different tracks of the storm. I am cautious right now about the strength of this storm as well, and do not think it will quite be as strong as the models are saying. That being said, the potential for a very memorable, if not historic storm is there. I will be watching this one closely over the weekend and early next week. Keep checking for more updates!


  1. I say 24 inch snowfall in Central New York, They love the snow up there and are about to recieve it. Me I hope it just peters out and
    dosent do anything. I am ready for Summer.

  2. They love the snow up there and are about to recieve it.

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