A snow day literally and figuratively falls from the sky, unbidden, and seems like a thing of wonder. -- Susan Orlean

Monday, January 30, 2012

1.30.12: Inch or Two Tonight; No Storm at the End of the Week

A very weak AC will move through the region tonight. It looks like the more moderate bands will hit mid- and south county in the Berkshires. Look for about an inch later tonight with up to 3" if the bands of snow currently out over western New York don't dry up as they engage the cold air in their eastward movement. The timing precludes this round of snow from creating any delays or cancellations.

Looks like our storm for the end of the week isn't going to happen. We're still holding out hope that something will emerge in the middle part of the week of Feb. 6th.

Have a great week--we'll update in a day or two.

Squalls Monday AM

A robust squall moved into the Berkshires, especially the north, dropping a quick 2" on the roads. A small chance of a delay has emerged, but it looks like it should be ending by the commute.

There is a chance the squall could linger and drop up to 4-5" of fluffy snow, which might generate a delay. Most of you will know by the time you read this if the snow persisted or not.

More about the end of the week storms later today.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Week of 1.3.12: Big Storms Looming?

Well...we survived another week of winter without a snow day or delay (except for Central Berkshire). Sadly, people seem to be getting used to this winter without snow.

The question has come up many times in the last week: has there ever been a school year without a snow day? It's an excellent question, and our deep dive into the GSD Archives has produced very little conclusive information. In the past certain districts were legendary for staying open through the worst of it and certain districts would close when meteorologists merely mentioned the word snow, so definitely certain schools have had no closures in the last 30 years because of a stubborn and mean superintendent.

Historically, going back to the early 20th century all the way up through the 1950s, school delays and closures were less frequent. You either got to school or you didn't, but school was open. As we moved into the 1960s and 1970s, three factors increased the number of snow days and delays: 1) Regionalization of school districts; 2) Federally imposed busing regulations; 3) Increased litigation.

As teachers and students had to drive longer distances to get to a regional school, poor weather would make it harder for schools to operate with depleted staffing and students, so more closures began to happen. As our society became more litigious, schools were gun-shy and legally could not put students in unsafe driving conditions by making them get to school, again increasing the number of snow days.

Our best guess at the year without a snow day is 1913, when a mere 13.8 inches fell for the entire winter in the Albany area. We definitely would say that the odds of a year without a snow day are 1 in 100--so perhaps this is the year for a winter without a snow day. We're going to dig a little deeper to see how accurate this information is, but that's our answer to the question...for now.

Officially, the GSD Staff thinks that the big one is coming, and it may even be right around the corner. We're getting excellent information from the computer models suggesting some kind of big event for the end of the week (perhaps on Friday but maybe on Saturday) or early next week (Monday after the Superbowl--which should be a national holiday anyway). Here's what our long-term forecaster Alex Sosnowski from Accuweather has to say:

Indications are this storm will try to bring formidably cold air in its wake starting next weekend for the Midwest and Northeast. In turn, this could pave the way for future, snowier storms in the region.

Expect to see some flurry activity on Sunday and then a warm-up for the middle of the week. There also is a good chance of rain on Tuesday or Wednesday. Then, we'll have to wait and see what track our storm takes for the end of the week. It could definitely head out to sea, but change is in the air and February could make up for a dismal January.

Check in throughout the week!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

1.27.12: Storm Hits Early; Still Little Chance of a Delay

The snow started falling earlier than expected this evening--about 3 hours earlier than we anticipated--and with enough cold air in place, the NWS issued a Winter Weather Advisory. That advisory is in effect until 7 am tomorrow. The wintery mix will change over to all rain in the overnight hours. In fact, as of 7:30 in the Northern Berkshires the snow had already changed to rain.

With a forecast high of 46 degrees tomorrow, there's no chance of delay, despite how desperately you want one. (Who wouldn't want a shortened day on a Friday?)

You'll have to continue your Zen-like patience you've shown this winter, as there is diddley-doo in the forecast for big storms. Lots of snow showers and flurries next week but very little will impact travel.

It's been pretty rough this winter, but you gotta think we'll be rewarded somehow in the end.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Storm 1.27.12: Sleet and Rain Starts on Thursday Evening

If you look at the radar below, which is a snapshot from the 10:45 pm (Wed) report, you'd think we have several inches on the way. Unfortunately, it's virga and we'll only see a few flurries in the overnight hours.

Misleading radar image for Wednesday night.
The bigger news is Thursday night into Friday. Not a lot has changed for this fairly wimpy January weather event. It looks like it will start much earlier than we had previously indicated--expect to see sleet in the Berkshires (especially in the north) around 7 pm. We may have a period of sleet and other frozen particles for a short time before it switches all the way over to rain by midnight at the latest.

The only hope for a delay would be a period of extended freezing rain for the Northern Berkshires during the commute. Mid and South County will be flat out of luck on this one. The lightness of the storm will not prevent the usual suspects in New York from delaying school, but the chance in these parts is remote...at best.

We're still checking out this storm out of the corner of our eye, but we won't be that concerned unless it makes a sudden, wild movement.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Storm 1.27.12: Snow to Rain for Thursday & Friday

We feel like we're cheating by calling the next weather producer a "storm," but times being what they are, that's what we're going with.

Thursday night it looks as if we have an inch or two of white stuff on the way before a changeover to rain on Friday. The snow could fall after midnight, giving us the minutest of chances at a delay. The best news about this possible snow is that there's very little agreement from the computer models, leaving us the potential of higher snow amounts. The bad news is the unseasonably warm temperatures.

Not good but not bad either.
Getting out the ol' crystal ball, we don't see any major weather makers for us for at least 12 days. And in the long long term forecast, it looks we're in for a moderate winter the rest of the way. We still have at least 6 more weeks of winter, so there's still plenty of time for a few major snow storms. Given our luck this season, though, you know one will fall during Feb break. But then again, perhaps we'll have the "Storm of the Century" in March like we did back in 1993, which dropped a foot and a half of white gold in the Berkshires.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Storm 1.21.12: Snow for Saturday Morning

Good evening, snow guys and gals. Sorry we didn't post last night but the GSD Staff were busy protesting SOPA...and, as we predicted, we knew the evening snow wasn't going to amount to much anyway.

Looks like our snow base will get deeper tomorrow with 2-3" expected throughout the day. If everyone just takes it slow tomorrow morning, everyone will be able to get where they need to go without too much trouble. South County should see higher amounts--4-5". The computer models on this storm are all very much in agreement--an oddity this winter--so we're pretty confident with our prediction. Look for the snow to begin around 4 am and end around noon.

Snow map for Saturday, January 21
 As for the Sunday-Monday storm we wrote about in the last post, it looks like the timing is perfect again for ice during the morning commute. Unfortunately, the warm-up will be rapid and we'll have to hit it just right to get a delay out of it. The early line is a low chance of a delay.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Storms Aplenty: The Weekend Ahead

Several weak disturbances will pass through our area in the next five days. As our luck would have it, the strongest of the three will hit us on Saturday when we could see moderate snow throughout the day. We just can't win for losing.

Look for an Alberta Clipper to pass through Thursday night bringing us at best 2" and not affecting school one jot. On Saturday, the Southern Berkshires have the better chance of moderate snow, but we're probably not looking at anything more than 4", with a strong cut-off line (possibly across Pittsfield) that would leave the NorBerks with but a dusting. There's a mess on the way for Sunday night into Monday but the best case scenario for storm #3 is ice early. Temps will be seasonably mild (mid and upper 30s), which will cause a turnover to all rain before the magic hour between 5 and 6 a.m.

We'd like to tell you that these three weather-makers are the prelude to a big, powdery poem ("Ode to a Snow Fort"? "And the Fat Snowman Danced"? "My Old Toboggan: A Sestina"?), but the rest of the week of January 23 is looking quiet. Curses!

We'll keep an eye on things, but there's really nothing for you to get too excited about any time soon.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Storm 1.17.12: School Will Open On Time

Apparently, taunting doesn't work because roads are wet but clear. The second wave of precip fizzled as it moved east. Several NY schools have gone with the 2-hour delay, but that won't be happening in these parts.

Winds will pick up tonight and into tomorrow with those wrap-around snows kicking up. We may get an advisory later today for tomorrow. As always, we'll keep you posted.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Storm 1.17.12: Delay Not Likely

Perhaps if we collectively taunt this storm, it will take offense and pound down sleet on the Berkshires from, say, 3 am to 6 am.

"C'mon, Storm 1.17.12--you twiggy-legged, pencil-armed, mouse-muscled, malnourished, chromosome-deficient, baby-faced little blizzard wannabe. Take that! And that! Grow some hair on your chest and make a name for yourself! Do it! Bring it on! We double dog dare you!"

Let's hope it works because we are almost assuredly looking at a full day of school--again. We may see a little precip in the next few hours but it's probably virga [Actually not virga as snow was officially observed at 9:31 pm -- eds.]. Then, once the first wave comes through there will be a window of two hours or so when nothing will fall. The second wave of precipitation has some spunk in it (starting around 2 am) but nothing that the hearty road crewpeople of the Berkshires can't sweep off the roads in minutes.

Wednesday we're looking at more of a nuisance snow, although that moniker hardly applies for all the ski folk out there. Perhaps 3" on Wednesday as the wrap-around snows invade the area.

1.17 is a virtual repeat of last Thursday/Friday with less oomph this time around. Have a good night!

Look for the early report tomorrow before school, and only if the conditions merit it, a running diary for "The Decision Hour"--5 am to 6 am Eastern Standard Time, exclusively at GSD!

1.17.12: Morning Commute Could Be Messy

The area weather experts have weighed in and very little has changed from this morning's prediction about tomorrow morning's winter event. A full cancellation is out of the question, but a delay is certainly in the grand realm of possibility. Your a.m. fortunes largely depend on how many angry phone calls the Superintendent received last Thursday about the conditions of the roads and putting students' lives in danger. While Thursday morning's drive wasn't exactly smooth sailing, "no delay" was the right call and the roads were no better two hours later.

Not much happening here.
Because of the "once bitten, twice shy" theory, we're going to bump up the chance of a delay by 10 whole points. The GSD Staff consensus is that there's a lot of virga with this storm, so the radar makes it out to have more moisture than it actually does. Also, we don't love the track of this storm at the moment. It looks like the heaviest bands of precipitation will be just slightly to our south. The track might trend more northerly, giving us the brunt of this fairly weak system, but that still would be enough to put only 2" on the ground.

Here's what we like: 1) timing; 2) sleet during the commute; 3) looming presence of freezing rain.

Here's what we don't like: 1) weak volume; 2) southerly track

GSD Staff is feeling a confident "no delay" at the moment. After a three-day weekend, that's not that hard to swallow but it disappointing nonetheless.

Other dicey-ness is in the forecast for the end of the week. Again, no major events but turbulence is in the air and will need to be monitored.

Look for the late evening report for the last say, but don't hold your breath on this one.

Storm 1.17.12: Winter Weather Advisory is Up

If you have a decent short term memory, then what we will see tonight, tomorrow, and on Wednesday will look awfully familiar.

Winter Weather Advisory in effect from 10 pm to 10 am tomorrow. The precipitation will start out as snow and then transition to sleet and then freezing rain during the morning commute. The freezing rain should start in South County (a.m. commute) before it starts in the Northern Berkshires (midday). The GSD Staff is putting the chance of a delay at 25%, and this number will likely hold around this number. We are concerned about the lack of moisture with this storm. With the bitterly cold air in place and less moisture than last week's storm, we just don't have that much precipitation to work with.

On Wednesday, we're looking at wrap-around snows and high winds again. Because this system is more northerly than the Friday system that dumped up to 8" on parts of Berkshire County, we don't think that they'll there will be quite that much snow. We definitely could see an advisory posted for Northern Berkshire for 1-3" of snow and high winds (up to 40 mph gusts).

Still no Nor'easters in the forecast, but these recent storms should stir the pot and lay the foundation for a few monster storms in February. Let's just hope they don't fall during February break.

Updates to follow in the afternoon, the early evening, and then the all-important late evening report when we make our definitive prediction.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Snow & Wind Today

Keep your eyes open today for snow squalls. As the bitterly cold air sinks down into our region throughout the day, snow will overspread the area. Some communities will see up to 2 inches of the white stuff. An early release is definitely out of the question, but it will at least look like winter through the weekend.

Negative numbers in the overnight hours on Saturday are a possibility, and highs will be in the upper teens on Sunday. Brrr.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Storm 1.12.12: Still Snowing

Just like we said, this storm proved to be an unpredictable one. Still snowing in Williamstown as of 5:15 am. First plow we heard was at 4:30. A delay is certainly a possibility...

Many NY schools are going with the two-hour delay including Hoosick Falls and New Lebanon. Mohawk is the only MA school so far with a delay at of 5:30.

5:32 -- MAU has a delay; things are trending upward...

6:15 -- Despite our best efforts to triangulate (New Lebanon-MAU-Mohawk), the powers in charge wouldn't take the bait. We see that Central Berkshire called in their delay around 6.

See you at school!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Storm 1.12.12: Late Evening Update

If you waited this long to do your homework for tomorrow, you may need to call in sick as it looks like it just won't get cold enough in the overnight hours to necessitate a delay. The temperature reading as of 10:30 pm at GSD in Williamstown was 33.7 degrees. With east and southeast winds moving in and with all of the cloud cover, it's likely that the precip will start out as mixed and change to rain much sooner. Higher elevations could still see snow and ice--an elevation change of 100 to 200' feet could make a big difference because we're so close to the freezing line in NorBerk.

We're going to lower our delay percentage back down to 20%. We know you're all disappointed, but the "warmer than expected" trend for the forecasts seems to be the running theme of the '11-'12 winter.

Storm 1.12.12: Early Evening Update

Take a look at the current radar and there certainly is a lot of moisture to our south and east. There are two low pressure systems associated with this mass of green--one will go to our west and north and the other--our wintery mess supplier--will head off the coast of Long Island and the Cape. Had the two lows joined forces and moved slightly east, we would have had a whopper of a storm.

So, is there anything new with this storm? Not really. The Northern Berkshires have the best shot of a delay tomorrow. We're upping our chance of a delay based on the forecast for freezing rain. Freezing rain is the big x-factor for storms--no superintendent in his or her right mind wants to mess with buses on icy roads. If you deeply, deeply want a delay tomorrow, you should be doing your little snow day dance/sacrifice/ritual in the hopes of freezing rain.

The problem is freezing rain is a grizzly bear to predict. A half degree colder or warmer can make all the difference. The current temp at GSD Headquarters is 33.4 degrees but 30 minutes ago it was 32.7. This fluctuation along the freezing mark will make this event very much a flip o' the coin.

Our modest prediction is about 2" of snow in Northern Berkshire with the changeover to sleet in the 3 am to 5 am window. It will then start to rain for the morning commute. If that rain is freezing, we're going to have a mess on our hands; unfortunately, the delay (or not) will have already been called in. (Remember, supers like to make their call between 5:30 and 6). Don't forget, too, that the road crews are very eager to get in those plows and make some cold, hard cash at that special time-and-a-half hourly rate. You know that as soon as the first flake hits the ground the plows will turn route 7 into the Santa Monica Freeway.

We're bumping the Confidence Meter to 40% for a delay. If you placed a large tank in front of the GSD office and made us decide, we'd have to say that you should prepare for the first bell of period one to ring on time.

A full snow day is almost entirely out of the question. The cold air isn't in place for a lasting winter weather event. This storm is a dicey one, and goodness knows everyone could use a delay, but it's unlikely that the models have under-shot the mark.

We'll do one more brief post later this evening with any new developments.

Storm 1.12.12: Midday Report

Not much new to report on this storm. Much of what we've already written still holds true. The GSD Staff is still downplaying the severity of the storm, and we've noticed a shift in tone from several forecast reports that also reflects this more neutral, less exuberant tone.

The latest models show that the snow that will fall after midnight will not last long before the mixed precip will kick in. It wouldn't surprise us in the least to see all rain by the morning commute. There still is the chance for freezing rain through the morning, but don't hold your breath.


At the moment we're sticking to our guns and keeping our 25% chance of a delay. The storm is not going to deepen at all as it moves northeast. There will be a period of frozen precipitation, but road crews will be able to manage it.

We, of course, hope the situation changes. However, the GSD Staff strongly advises you get your homework done this evening.

1.12.12: Winter Weather Advisory is Up

The WWA is officially up and is slated to end at noon tomorrow. This is a good sign, as the precip should still be coming down in some form through the morning commute.

Gotta love the 1 to 6" snow prediction from the good folks at NOAA--this means they have no idea about the time of the changeover from snow to sleet to freezing rain.

This is going to be a touch-and-go storm, and we're sure that some places where the cold air gets trapped in will end up with 3-4". Others will see just that 1" or 1.5" inch of wet snow.

We're bumping up our chance of a delay, but the Confidence Meter will be getting a workout throughout the day. The Staff still isn't loving how this storm is splitting apart down in the Southeast, which is why we're tempering our excitement about this one this time around.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

1.12.12: Delay in the Making?

Good evening to all you avid weather-watchers. Here's the lowdown on the storms--yes, storms--for Thursday:

Snow will fall early morning hours in Berkshire County (1:00 am start). The snow will be the heavy and wet type and will not stick on the roads as well as it will on grassy surfaces. It will likely change over to some kind of mixed precip as we approach dawn. Right now it's much too early to make a call on when that changeover will take place. If it changes over earlier, we're looking at an inch of slush and school will be on for a full day. If it takes longer to changeover, we could see around 3-4" of snow. Given the perfect timing of the storm, there certainly is a decent chance at a delay--if it stays as snow.

The other unique aspect of this storm is that there may be some freezing rain after the changeover, with some forecasts calling for 1/4" of icing in the Berkshires, which would certainly make travel treacherous and would give us an even better chance at a delay (and also a way, way outside shot at a snow day).

Wouldn't it nice to be here? Valdez, AK--7' of snow

Don't forget that the forecasts for snow in the past six weeks have overshot their mark considerably, with much warmer temperatures than originally predicted by the computer models. Unfortunately all you followers out there, the GSD Staff is in agreement that it will be warmer than the models say and we're likely to see the 1" of slush scenario. As always, we reserve the right to change our minds over the next 24 hours.

Check back with us throughout the day tomorrow to see if enough cold air is in place for deeper snow. We will likely see an advisory at some point tomorrow--the key will be to see when the advisory ends as that will tell us how much frozen precipitation we can expect.

We're also keeping an eye on another clipper-type storm for Thursday night into Friday. Again, this storm will produce 2-4" of snow at most but the timely is again looking very good. We'd say our chances are better for the early Thursday storm than the late Thursday storm, but it definitely appears that the jet stream pattern has changed in our favor. It's only a matter of time...

Monday, January 9, 2012

Long-Term Forecast Improves!

Greetings, Snowbirds. The GSD Staff would officially like to offer an apology for our glum posts recently. Several of our staff suffer from seasonal affective disorder, which just makes us S.A.D.

But that's all in the past , baby, because multiple signs are pointing to a much improved winter in the coming weeks! For one, we may see some snow on Thursday. Sure, it's going to rain, too--that's, unfortunately, unavoidable--but we will see a period of white stuff that will give us around an inch or two. There is one outlier predicting the possibility of heavy snow for the Northern Berkshires, but we're not particularly confident in that computer model. At least heavy snow is in the conversation.

On Thursday, look for the snow to start in the early morning hours of Thursday. There should be enough cold air in place for the precip to start out as a snow/sleet/mix. Those in the higher terrains could see the snow hold on for longer. Because of the exquisite timing of this storm, a delay is certainly not out of the question. If that heavy snow comes through, the timing would likely necessitate a snow day call. We urge you to temper your excitement until we can give you more convincing information.

Regardless of what happens on Thursday, the pattern shift that we've been jonesing for for over a month now is finally about to happen. We should see a series of clipper storms starting at the beginning of next week. Let us remind you that Alberta clippers are those faster moving storms that take a more linear, easterly track and typically produce between 3-6 inches in less than 12 hours. Occasionally these clippers can get blocked on the coast and dump up to a foot of light, fluffy snow but that's more the exception than the rule. There are no snowmageddons in sight, but the shift in the pattern will set the stage for a more normal winter the rest of the way.

This is good. Trust us.
The collective GSD gut tells us that we're just in one of those kooky winters that came in great and will end great but the middle is boring as your Uncle Johnny's sock collection.

Eyes and ears open for developments for Thursday, snow fans. The timing is certainly working in your favor.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Week of 1.9 Update--More Miserableness

The very slim chance of a storm tonight proved to be even slenderer than we thought. It never really came together, and we're looking at another snowless week.

We will see rain move in later in the week--not want the ski people want to hear--so we're very much in a holding pattern about when we'll even see a prediction for a storm somewhere in the future. The best we can give you for a "maybe" date is Friday, January 20th.

Our research team is looking into the history books for snowless winters. After last year's blockbuster snow season, we may have to deal with the reality of one of the lowest snow totals ever (though that October snow is going to skew the results). We'll let you know what we find.

Keep the faith--we're going to get something at some point.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Don't Give Up Hope Just Yet -- Storm for 1.8?

During our daily stop-in over at the NOAA offices, we overheard some grumblings by the Keurig machine about a possible late weekend storm. Very interesting indeed.

Further investigation revealed that some models are intimating that there could be a small chance of a coastal storm on Sunday. Could the storm go into Monday? It certainly could, but we really have no idea, as none of the models are in agreement at the moment. But, as it is our responsibility to divulge this super-secret weather information to you, consider yourself officially informed.

Not a problem, not a problem. It's our pleasure.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Nothing Doing...

Zero.
Zilch.
Nada.
Bagel.
O.
The big, fat goose egg.

Nothing plus nothing is even more nothingness, which is exactly what we're looking at for at least the next ten days. Boo, Old Man Winter. Boo on you.

It will sure as heck feel like winter over the next few days, but then the temps are going to spike up and we might even hit 50 on Saturday. Break out the flip flops!

Even though this may feel like one of the worst winters on record--we're not there yet--we just need to be patient. If the cold air can get in place and the jet stream takes a favorable turn, we'll get into a nice pattern of winter storms.

Until then, faithful followers, keep your eye on the sky and your feet on the ground.