Tuesday, December 31, 2013

More Snow Maps...

Here are a few more snow maps for your New Year's Eve perusal:

More Weather Channel enlightenment (and better).

A very optimistic Bob Kovachick map. Yes Bob!

Early Snow Forecast Maps for Jan. 2-3

(For a more a detailed discussion of the storm and its positives and negatives, see the previous post.)

Here are few early maps to give you a sense of the spread of the forecasts:

Here's Accuweather's view.

The North American model, courtesy of TWC.
The European model, courtesy of TWC.
Historically, the European model has been a more accurate predictor of events, but there are times when the North American model gets on a hot streak and gets things right. Even if we average these maps, we're looking at a good 7-8" of fresh powder. That's what we're talking about!

The heaviest snow will fall Thursday night. As for school, we could see a full snow day or an early release on Thursday, and then on Friday we would see delays, if anything. After school activities and games on Thursday are very much in jeopardy at this point in our prognostications.

We'll know a lot more tomorrow morning and will provide a more definitive update then.

New Year Storm Approaches

There's plenty to choose from on the snow menu in the next six days. We'll have a nice little Alberta Clipper appetizer today (Tuesday) that could produce about an inch or so this afternoon. Then there's the very exciting late-Wednesday-through-Friday-morning main course, which we'll discuss in more detail below. And we're looking at a possible snow/wintry mix/rain dessert for Sunday into Monday. What a great way to start the new year!

The snow we could see this afternoon is from a system that is currently pushing snow bands into western New York and Pennsylvania. Some of those bands could reach us and give us a dusting and perhaps an inch. Should that snow reach us, we'll see it between 1 and 3 PM.

Now on to the news you've been waiting for...

The GSD Staff is still excited about this storm, but it's not a perfect storm by any stretch of the imagination. We love the fact that it will start well before the Thursday morning commute. We also love the fact that it is predicted to last all the way to Friday morning. Our concern, though, is the heaviness of the snow. Most models are predicting around a half inch of liquid precipitation. If we apply a typical snow to liquid ratio of 12" of snow for every 1" of liquid, then we should see see about 6" of snow. Unfortunately, that just isn't very much for a storm that could last 30 hours. Most competent road crews should be able to keep up with the snow if it falls at that slow, light rate.

One other piece of information that could work in our favor is that with the bitter cold air locked in place, snow to liquid ratios are higher when it's colder. If we bump up the ratio to 15:1 or 18:1, which is unusually high, then we're looking at 7.5 to 9 inches of snow.

Here's a graphic from our friend Matt Noyes over at New England Cable News. Looks like the Catskills and South County could be the big winners.

A lot of this snow will be generated by the low pressure system that will come out of the Ohio Valley and not the coastal low (which we discussed yesterday). It looks like the coastal low will still form and prolong the storm into Friday morning, but it will be too far south and east of us to turn this storm into snowmageddon 2014.

Skiers are going to love this snow, but those snow day lovers may be disappointed. The big "if" for this storm centers on the road crews and whether or not they feel they can keep up with the snow to make roads safe. Your chances of having a snow day will hinge on that conversation between your Superintendent and the head of Public Works for your town.

We'll have much more later today, and we'll also address Sunday night's storm (the quick and dirty: delay scenarios for Monday only).

Don't forget to pick a name for the first storm of 2014!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Snow Storm To Greet School Vacation Returnees

We have ourselves a weather situation for Thursday and Friday this week. All of our sources are suggesting that a possible 1-2 punch of storm systems could throw down a serious blanket of snow starting as early as the pre-dawn hours on Thursday and extending all the way to Friday morning.

First things first: it will be plenty cold enough for snow. Temps are on the decline, and we'll see highs in the teens on New Year's Day with single digits for a high on Friday. The coldest time this week will be Friday night when we could see a low of negative 10-15 degrees. An its-too-cold-to-start-the-buses delay scenario would be in place because of those low values. If only we had school on Saturday...

As for our storm(s) for Thursday and Friday... We've been down this road a few times already this winter. The first low pressure will emerge from the Ohio Valley and move east-northeasterly on Thursday. This storm has some potent moisture associated with it and we could see 3-4" of light, fluffy snow from it. The second phase is the one we at the GSD Office are really eager to see: the coastal low. This part of the storm will hit us Thursday night. If everything breaks the right way and the track is good (that means closer to coast but not too close), we would see an additional 6-8" of snow. If the two-phased storm is a bust, we'll see about 3-4"; if the two systems phase together and strengthen, we would see 10-12". Exciting times indeed!

Looking good. (Thanks to TWC for this image.)
Before you decide to blow off that assignment that's due on Thursday, we present three potential problems with this storm. 1) Because marrow-chilling cold air will be in place, the cold air could evaporate some of the moisture of this storm, thus lowering snow totals. 2) The timing, to put it plainly, stinks (unless it starts before the Thursday AM commute and/or extends into the Friday morning commute). 3) The track of the coastal storm is anything but a certainty.

The two pressure systems in action.
As of today (Monday), the best case scenario would be two more days of snow-induced vacation. Huzzah! The worst case scenario would be 2-3" on Thursday afternoon and the coastal low going out to sea, giving us a big, fat powdered doughnut of nothingness for those desiring some kind of school-shortening or cancelling experience. Boo to that.

There are a lot of "ifs" right now, so students should plan on at least starting the school day on Thursday with the possibility of announced early releases for our region. A full day of school on Friday is also very much up in the air.

We will go ahead and name this storm, so vote early and vote often!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Snow Forecast for Week of December 30

(For details on Sunday night's storm, see the previous post.)

The first days of 2013 could be snowy. After we clean up the 2" of slushy mess from our Sunday storm, it looks like we have two more good cracks at snow for later in the week.

The first will be a Tuesday night. A clipper system could spawn a dusting or even an inch of snow, but the chances are 50/50 for accumulations from that event.

The best news, though, is that some models are predicting a major storm for Thursday/Friday. Here's what our friends at NOAA have to say thus far:


It's way too early to get excited, but it is nice to know that the possibility for our first full snow day of the season is not far around the corner.

Rain Then Snow Tonight

The NWS finally got around to posting a Winter Weather Advisory for the Northern Berkshire county at 3:43 AM this morning.

This storm has sped up about 8-12 hours, and we're now going to see a mostly rain event with a few inches of snow at the end of it before midnight. Temps are good right now (27.6 degrees at 8 AM), but they will rise to the low 40s by this afternoon, which is why we'll see more rain than snow.

That large green blob is moving in a northeasterly direction and will be over us midday; it won't turn blue until much later tonight.
The rain should kick in around noon, and it could fall at a moderate and heavy rate for stretches this afternoon. If you need to get outside to exercise or do some kind of outdoor task, you do have a short window this morning to git 'er done.

The snow, when it falls, should end about midnight so tomorrow's commute is looking much, much better than it did about 24 hours ago.

So...do not expect this snow to impact your life very much. The rain could be a major headache for anyone travelling today, but the snow window is short and will make the roads messy this evening after 8 PM.

We think we'll see about 1.5" of snow only for this minor vacation snow event.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Snow to Impact Monday Morning Travel

Snow lovers will not have to wait long for our next round of white stuff. Even though the heaviest of it will fall to our north, the Berkshires could see as much as 6" of snow, especially if you live in the northern part of the county. Accuweather is calling for 4-8" for Billsville, but Accuweather is always overly aggressive with its forecast snow totals.

This coastal storm will be a fast mover, and it will start out as rain around midday on Sunday. The rain will change over to snow around nightfall. How much snow we get all depends on the amount of precipitation associated with the bands of snow that could form. Some models are indicating that there's quite a bit of moisture associated with this coastal storm, but the models have consistently overshot the mark this winter.

Thanks, Accuweather.
Look for a winter weather advisory for the Berkshires to be announced sometime later today (Saturday). Our official GSD prediction is for 3-4" of fairly heavy, wet snow. If we were not on vacation, we would be looking at widespread delay scenarios for the county on Monday.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Little Snow

Merry Christmas, followers! We have a little snow on the way in the form of an AC that should impact our area tonight (Wednesday) and tomorrow.

There's not much moisture with this storm front, but we could see up to 2" in the higher terrain as it sweeps through the Berkshires. Areas to our north are more likely to get those 2", but us southern dwellers might get a full inch of powdery goodness. That will be nice to see especially because the rain wiped up just about all of the snow from last week.

No big storms in sight for us. This period of relative quiet could last for a few weeks, but we expect mid- to late January to be very exciting around these parts.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Wet, Warm Weather Waiting in the Wings

Rain, rain, go away; come again...in May.

The chances of us having white stuff on the ground for December 25th are going to decrease markedly after the drenching we will experience this evening (Saturday) and during the day on Sunday.

Here's the radar picture as of 8 AM Saturday:

The track of this rain is in an east-northeast direction, which means it will be wet in the Berkshires for most of the day and tomorrow, but we think the heaviest rains will fall to our north. Some computer models are calling for close to 3" of rain. If this rain could be snow, we'd be looking at over 2 feet in the Adirondacks. But don't forget that it's exceedingly warm for this time of year, which is driving the liquid volume up (warmer air = moist; colder air = dry, which explains why your hands, lips, and face feel chapped all winter).

As for timing...it looks like the rain will start before noon on Saturday and continue off and on throughout the day. Later tonight we'll see it become steadier, and then tomorrow you will wake up to more rain. Yay. The rain should end sometime in the late afternoon on Sunday. High temps will be in the mid 50s both days, which will make this storm feel like an April one instead of a first-day-of-winter one.

Winter returns on Tuesday. We'll see temperatures fall gradually starting Sunday night with mid 40s on Monday and then mid 20s for highs on Christmas Eve. Christmas is looking dry with some sun and temps seasonably in the 20s.

The next time we will see snow is possibly on Thursday night or Friday. A couple of our sources are suggesting a very small Alberta Clipper could impact our area Thursday night and/or another small low pressure system could give us a brief shot of snow on Friday. These are very tenuous predictions right now but it's all we've got right now so we'll hope for the best.

Don't let the rain dampen your holiday spirit! And happy vacation to those who are now on it.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Possible Slick Roads for Friday (12/20)

A stretch of messy weather is in our near future will put our chances of a white Christmas in serious jeopardy.

We have our eye on potential slick road conditions Thursday night into Friday morning's commute. There could be just enough moisture in the air to make the last journey to school for 2013 a tad dangerous. We have about a 50% chance of some form of mixed precipitation for the Berkshires that will fall in the form of sleet or freezing rain. We don't think there will be delays tomorrow, but you might keep half an eye open tomorrow AM to that possibility.

The big, fat downer of the weekend is that a major rain storm will move in Saturday night and last until Sunday. Temperatures are going to shoot up abnormally high--most areas will see mid 50s; NYC could hit 70!--and we might see up to 2" of rain. If it rains that much, say goodbye to most of that foot of white stuff we have. Sorry, cross country skiers. Alpinists should be okay but a few trails on the outskirts could be shut down for a few days.

The major warm-up will not last as we'll see 40s on Monday and then low 20s for a high on Monday. As for our chance of more snow before or on Santa's big day, we aren't seeing any in our meteorological crystal ball. There's a small chance of some snow showers late on Wednesday but it's more likely those snow showers will fall on Thursday.

Unfortunately, this weekend's rain storm could be the end of the three-storm cycle (we've had storms or potential storms for three straight weekends), which we've written about before. We don't see anything in the long-term for 28th/29th, but we'll certainly keep everyone updated on storms even though it's vacation week. The GSD Staff doesn't do vacations this time of year; we've got you covered.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

AC Today (12/17)

Three things to know about today's minor weather event:

1. It's the kind of cold that hurts this morning. Minus 1.9 Fahrenheit at the Home Office, with other reports of -6 in the Berkshires. With the clouds moving in, temps will warm up to the high teens by later this afternoon. Don't even think about going to school without a hat and gloves today.

2. You can practically set your watch to the arrival of the snow. We say 8:55 AM for Northern Berkshire County; SoCo will see the snow about twenty minutes earlier.

3. Snows will taper significantly around 4 PM.

That's it...we'll see if any schools opt for the early release today, as they are already doing in the eastern part of the state.

[UPDATE: Mohawk Trail is closed for the day...what?! Also, some schools to the south and west of Berkshire County have also called school off.]

Monday, December 16, 2013

Snow to Affect Travel Tuesday (12/17)

Here's a nice shot of the forecasted snow for our area tomorrow:

Thanks, Weather Channel.
Sorry, snow lovers, but we don't see any significant change to the timing of this storm. High school students shouldn't have any worries during the AM commute, but elementary school students might see snow on the roads as their buses make their way to their designated places of learning.

The afternoon return home is a different matter. Again, the GSD Staff strongly endorses keeping the extra-curricular schedule as is. Students are better off staying at school than heading home at 2:30 or 3. The snow will be light enough throughout the day for the road crews to keep the highways and byways relatively safe, and we'll see the snow taper around 4 PM.

Here's the current radar as of 9:30 PM:

9:39 PM radar--the AC is on it's way.
Notice that there's not a lot of moisture with this system, and that blue band is moving easterly and will rotate slightly counter clockwise, thus enhancing our chances for 3 or 4 inches of snow. The low pressure system (behind this swath of snow) will then gain strength off the coast of Long Island, allowing snow to fill in from south to north during the day tomorrow. And that, our friends, is why we're in a Winter Weather Advisory for tomorrow.

Four days until vacation!

Winter Weather Advisory for Tuesday (12/17)

It looks like there may be a litte more moisture associated with our Alberta Clipper-into-coastal low than we originally thought. The NWS has posted a Winter Weather Advisory for our area tomorrow, with a prediction of 2 to 6" of snow between the hours of 7 AM and 6 PM.

Based on the GSD Staff's observations of the radar pictures, it is very unlikely that snow will fall in the County as early as 7 AM. Look for light snow to start between 9 and 10 AM and to fall throughout the afternoon. Most locations will still see 2 or 3" inches with higher places getting 4".

We'll raise our True North Confidence Meter chances for an early release slightly, but schools will be loath to exercise the worst of the three school-shortening options.

We definitely think that many schools will cancel afternoon activities tomorrow because of the snow. It probably won't be the right call to do so. Why release all these young drivers at the height of this minor storm? Allowing students to have their practices and rehearsals will push their travel on the snowy roadways more toward the end of the snow period, and by that point road crews will have had more time to make things safer. That's just our opinion, but it's the right one.

Check in tomorrow morning for an update.

Alberta Clipper Coming to Town

Our biggest Alberta Clipper of the season will descend upon us Tuesday, giving us an opportunity for a few additional inches of snow. Never is there much moisture associated with an AC (0.1 or 0.2" is the norm), but this one will be stopping on the coast briefly to pick up moisture and develop into a minor coastal storm. Unfortunately for us (but not for the eastern part of the state), the developing coastal low will head east-northeast and out to sea before it can really turn into a snow machine.

We should see about 2" of fresh powder from the storm, starting at about 8 AM tomorrow. Locales in and around Boston could see up to 6". The timing is not good enough for a delay or snow day in the Berkshires, and the anticipated volume isn't high enough for an early release. With the December finish line in sight, there's no great urge for a snow day right now--we might as well save it up for the winter doldrums of late January and early February.

A classic Alberta Clipper arc. Courtesy of Accuweather.
We'll keep you posted should the storm look to arrive earlier than expected.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Storm Anya Exits; Find Your Scarf

Storm Anya behaved just about as expected except that it ended earlier than we thought it would. It turned out to be a fairly fast moving storm and the low pressure center cruised on out past Cape Cod and took the heavy precipitation with it around 4 AM. It also warmed up more than forecasters thought, and it was actually drizzling rain earlier this morning (7 AM) even though the temperature was well below freezing. Had this storm fallen on a school day, a delay would have been more likely than a snow day.

We'll still see a light drizzle of snow and a few more sustained bursts until midday, but the accumulation will be under an inch. The grand total of snow for Anya will be about 8" as measured at the GSD Headquarters.

Brace for the cold tomorrow. Mid-tees for the high temperature and the wind will be up, giving us wind chill values well below zero. Add the scarf to your outfit tomorrow so you can cover your face.

We don't have to wait long for our next chance for snow. We have a small system that could affect the Berkshires during the afternoon hours on Tuesday. It's timing is perfectly terrible for a snow day/delay scenario, but it could affect after-school activities that day. It will impact eastern New England more than our area, but it still could bring several inches of snow. We'll, of course, keep you updated.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Storm Anya On Time

The GSD Staff was up all night checking its sources from around the globe, and we're still on track for about 8 or 9" of snow. See the previous post for a sense of the time line of this storm. We still think 11 AM is about right for the start time, and the first few hours of the storm will bring only light snow. The heavy stuff kicks in after dark.

Let's play a little game called "If Storm Anya Had Fallen on a School Day." What would the call have been? The official GSD prediction for this storm would have been for the delightful but rare Release/Snow Day double. Had this storm fallen on a Thursday, let's say, we would have had an early release on Thursday followed by a snow day on Friday. Now that would have been soothing to the winter soul!

Enjoy the weekend; it's going to be fun. Get out there and frolic in the white stuff. But be sure to button up because it's wicked chilly out there, as they might say out east. Speaking of east, here's a forecast from Boston:

NECN has a strong eastern Mass bias, but these totals are more in line with our thinking.
(BTW, we're over 200,000 page views--thanks, followers of the flake!)

Friday, December 13, 2013

Winter Storm Warning for Storm Anya (12/14-15)

As we predicted earlier today--way to go, GSD Staff!--the Winter Storm Watch is now a Warning. "Watch" means it could happen; "Warning" means it's going to happen. Criteria for Winter Storm classification is 7" in 12 hours or 9" in a 24-hour period. For the Berkshires, we should meet both criteria.

The Warning starts at 8 AM tomorrow and lasts until 1 PM Sunday. You can pretty much chop a few hours off each end, especially the back end of the storm. We're still confident we'll see the light snow start tomorrow closer to 11 AM than 8 AM. The storm still has a way to go yet as it comes out of the Ohio Valley, reforms off the coast of New Jersey, and then moves toward Cape Cod.

A fun fact about this storm is the snow-to-liquid ratio. Because it's so cold, the ratio is what is termed "light." In this case, light is good. Light means upwards of 15 inches for every inch of precipitation (a moderate ratio is around 10 inches of snow for every inch of liquid), and most computer models are projecting 0.9 or 1.0 inches of liquid precip. That's another reason we could easily see a foot of snow tomorrow night.

We at the GSD Home Office still think we won't quite reach 1 inch of liquid, so we're holding firm to our 8" prediction. We certainly can afford to be wrong by a few inches as no snow day is in play. We do think that many religious services will be cancelled for Sunday morning because of the volume and timing of the snow. High school athletic practices and youth games may be in jeopardy as well, especially if they are scheduled for the morning or midday.

Here are more pretty pictures at which to look:

Lookin' good, Channel 22 out of Springfield!

Not as good, but we'll take it, Channel 6.
Not much different from 13's earlier map, but notice they've bumped the totals.
At this point, there's not much more to do other than sit back and enjoy the snow show. Be careful out on those roads tomorrow, should you dare to venture out. And we endorse staying at home tomorrow night once it gets dark.

Snow Globe Snow (12/13)

The snow you've witnessed today, Friday, is unrelated to Storm Anya. We wrote about this possibility a few days ago, but the lake effect snow machine is producing at a much higher rate than expected for the northern half of the Berkshires. We could see three or four inches of airy, fluffy snow by the end of the day. These nearly moderate snow showers will persist until the cold front finally gets through and sets the stage for Saturday night's storm.

Here are a few tidbits about tomorrow's Storm Anya:

1. It should start around 11 AM with light accumulations. You should be able to get out and about for much of the day Saturday.
2. Saturday afternoon around 3 or 4 PM is the time when the snow will pick up in intensity.
3. Heaviest snow will fall from about 8 PM to 4 AM.
4. The snow will let up in the morning but we could see another reinforcement of snow between 10 AM and 2 PM on Sunday, giving us in the Berks another inch or two.

Eight inches is still our best estimate. Folks in higher terrains could see a foot.

Here are a few snow projections from our friends at Channel 13 in Albany and NECN:

Courtesy of Channel 13.
Thanks, New England Cable News.
These images are very encouraging. Even if we get half the snow these meteorologists are predicting, we will have snow on the ground for December 25. Well, it's about time!

Winter Storm Watch for Storm Anya (12/14-15)

Game on, followers of the flake! The NWS has issued a Winter Storm Watch for our region starting Saturday morning, so this storm is ahead of schedule. It should start snowing some time around 11 AM tomorrow, and it will end in the early hours of Sunday morning. Sunday is shaping up to be a better day as most folks should be able to get shovelled out by 8 or 9 AM.

The peak snow should occur after dark on Saturday night. There could be bands of snow at a rate of 2" per hour, and the winds will kick up, possibly creating blizzard conditions. Saturday night Holiday parties could be in jeopardy because of the snow.

The range of forecasted snow totals is anywhere from 6 to 12 inches. At this point, the GSD Staff has reached consensus, and we think we'll be on the lower end of that total with a 6-8" total more likely for all of the Berkshires. Northern Berkshire could see up to 10", and there's a chance SoCo may only see 6" if more moist snow and sleet mixes in, which is a slight possibility.

We'll be watching the radar tonight to give you a better sense of the timing of Storm Anya before you head to bed tonight. We'll also have an update about snow total predictions from our various weather news outlets later in the day.

We hope you survive your Friday the 13th without any calamities, and hope you enjoy this good old-fashioned snow storm!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Ho! Ho! Ho! Winter's On Its Way

Studying getting you down? Too many tests on Friday? Are you looking at an all-nighter because of that Chem test tomorrow? Well, this will ease your pain:

Love it, Accuweather. Thanks!
It's really too bad storm Anya will not fall on a school day because she certainly looks to have the key ingredients for a snow day--good volume and good timing.

With that in mind, you'll need to get your cancellation telephone tree in order for Sunday morning if you're trying to get to a scheduled event. Travel for Sunday morning is looking ugly. Right now the storm does look as if it will wrap itself up around midday on Sunday.

More (hopefully good) news to follow.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Don't Get Your Hopes Up

It's snowing steadily this Wednesday evening but you needn't get excited. Here's the radar picture:

That blob over Northern Berkshire County is heading due east and is starting to dry up. We'll never complain about a bonus half or full inch of snow, but that's all this mini-blast of snow will lead to. There will be no delay or snow day tomorrow.

To read about our next good chance for snow, see the previous post.

Snow and More Snow

Get used to this current weather pattern, as we will see a regular threat of snow showers, flurries and perhaps the occasional squall as we make our way toward the weekend and the big storm awaiting us for Saturday night and Sunday.

The best chance for a measurable snow before then is midday Friday, when lake effect snows from Lake Champlain could shoot down the valley and give us a coating or even an inch. It won't be anything like the pounding western New York is taking right now from lake effect snows (over 2 feet in some areas).

In our monitoring of the advancing storm for the weekend, we haven't seen any new info to change our opinion. There is usually a lull in the news a few days ahead of a storm, so we expect the weather hype machine to get ramped up more tomorrow and on Friday.

Most of our sources are calling for around 6" for the Berks. Based on the forecasted amount of moisture and the cold air, the GSD Staff sees a low total of 3" of snow if sleet mixes in and a high total of 10" if everything breaks our way. Right now we think the onset of the snow will be 4 pm on Saturday but that is just an early guesstimate. We'll have more precise information in about 48 hours.

They say Electra, we say Anya.

If history tells us anything, we'll probably see one more storm around the weekend of the 21st and then the pattern will change (most likely a cold, dry stretch). These kinds of storms often come in threes, so counting the fizzle over the weekend, we should see the storm this weekend and one more snow event before the next pattern takes over.

Nor'easter This Weekend (12/14-15)?

Most people in the Berkshires have two types of winter footwear. There's that low pair you have, maybe a moc or clog-like shoe, that you use for everyday walking around in slush and light snow. For example, yesterday, with the nice 1.5" coating that we got up here in North County, would have been the right day for your low winter shoe.

Your other pair are those enormous winter boots that show less fashion consciousness but indeed they are practical. They're warm, they go to your knee, and, when you you walk around in them, you have all the grace of a rusting Imperial Walker.

Well, guess what? It's finally time to break out the big clunkers because we have a major winter storm headed our way. European and North American models are starting to see eye-to-eye, and we could have a nor'easter to contend with Saturday evening into Sunday, with snow lasting past noon on Sunday. Essentially, energy way out in British Columbia and energy down near Baja California will join together to create a big low pressure system in the lower Ohio Valley or along the mid-Atlantic coast. If the storm can pick up some energy on the mid-Atlantic coast and turn more to the north, we'll have a major nor'easter for Saturday night into Sunday.

Thanks, Accuweather.
Regardless of what the storm does on the coast, we're going to see snow. Consider yourself warned.

We'll have much more about timing and snow totals later in the week. After the weekend storm, brace yourself for the coldest temps of the season: we could hit 0 on Monday night.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

More Chances for Snow

Sorry, folks, for the misleading information about yesterday's (Monday's) non-delay. The radar doesn't lie (usually), and that was definitely the case yesterday as the wedge of dry air stayed over us despite many signs pointing toward a moisture infusion to our area.

It's a bit of a shaky start for the GSD staff, but don't you worry! We're having high-level administrative meanings and will aggressively attack the problem. Blame will be found, and it isn't going to be pretty that individual.

As we get back on the horse, here's the latest:

It's snowing right now (Tuesday, midday)! But it is of the lightest kind you will ever see. It's more of snow drizzle, but we could see up to an inch by the end of the day. Your travel will not be impacted. If it's going to be this gray and miserable out, it might as well snow!

Better yet is the news that forecast models--at least most of them--are forecasting a "winter event" for this weekend. Right now we are rooting heavily for the European model to be the right one, as it is forecasting a low to develop off the coast of Long Island. This location would be ideal for a moderate to heavy snowfall. If everything goes in our favor, and Euro comes through, we're looking at totals of 6-8" of the fluffy white stuff. If the storm fizzles, we'll see snow, some mixing, and the plain old cold rain. Ugh.

We've got our eye on it, and will let you know how this storm will affect all your holiday activities.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Another Bust

Prepare for a full day of school. The column of cold, dry air we discussed last night won the battle, and very little precipitation has fallen (and will fall) with the remainder of this storm. Roads are wet but extremely passable.

Some schools in New York have gone with the delay, but we don't see it happening for the Berkshires. Some sleet may move in just as folks are heading out to school, which is too late to force a delay, so be careful out there.

A possible more significant storm is on the horizon for Saturday and Sunday.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Final Thoughts on a Delay for Tomorrow (12/9)

Here's a snapshot of the radar as of 9:15:

Notice that wedge of dry air between the blue patch (snow) and the green/pink patch (rain/sleet). A big reason for the wedge of dry air is because of the cold air is keeping the moisture out. If we were to make our forecast for a delay on this radar picture, then we would be lowering our True North Confidence Meter. Yet, the weather experts tell us that the moisture will fill in this column eventually, and we'll start to see snow fall around 12:30 or 1 AM as the green/pink part of the storm reaches the Berkshires.

Superintendents also have had all weekend to prepare mentally for this storm. We think this fact should work in our favor, as their vast minds have had time to envision a delay call and its impact, which is good.  What superintendents hate is when a storm sneaks up on them, which this storm decidedly has not done.

The enormous problem with this storm is that there just isn't very much precipitation associated with it. We should only see an inch or two of snow and then a 1/4" of sleet on top of that. The big question is: will there be enough sustained sleet and freezing rain during the morning commute to warrant a delay?We think there will be, and for this reason many districts will opt for the delay tomorrow but not all, especially in South County.

We won't at all be surprised if this storm is a bust (similar to this past Friday's storm), which is why we're not as confident as we'd like to be.

We know you come to us for definitive answers, but this one's a tricky one. We're leaning toward a delay for many schools in the county but it's only a slight tilt. Keep those fingers crossed!

Winter Weather Advisory for Sunday/Monday (12/8 & 9)

We were hoping for a Watch or a Warning for this storm when we first started talking about it last week, but at least we have a Winter Weather Advisory in effect for tonight into tomorrow.

Because of the relative minor nature of this storm, we're not going to name it, but we will hold on to Anya for the first major storm of the winter of 2013-14.

Here's what we like about tonight's storm:

1. Timing.
2. Timing.
3. Sleet.
4. Timing

Here's what we don't like about tonight's storm:

1. Low amount of precipitation.
2. Eventual changeover to rain.

Another big factor here is the psychology of your superintendent, which we know varies from district to district. Superintendents tend to be a little more willing to call for a delay or snow day on these early storms. They haven't used any up yet; they haven't received any angry phone calls about their bad decision on the last storm; they want to reward their students and staff with a little extra sleep as it is the season of generosity (Now wouldn't that last one be special!)

So...we're going to bump up the True North Confidence Meter to 60% largely because of the timing of the storm. We think the commute will be treacherous and that it will make perfect sense to give road crews extra time to combat the sleet that will be falling from about 5 to 8 am.

We'll have an update later tonight!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Winter Weather Advisory for Friday Night (12/6)

Locate those galoshes now! The first moderate snowfall is on the way, hey hey hey.

The Berkshires look like the big winner tonight as most Wx (that's some shorthand weatherese for "weather") prognosticators (that's just a big word we like to use to sound more intelligent than we actually are) have us in the 3-7" range with some of the more aggressive forecasters thinking we'll see upwards of 8 inches. Nice.

A modest forecast, but it's Friday night, so what does it really matter?
It's definitely going to snow, and you will need to exert some energy to get yourselves on your way tomorrow, wherever you're headed.

We're still on course (see the post below) for a 6 PM start to this at times intense burst of snow.

And here's a little preview of our next item of interest:

We like it. Thanks, Accuweather.

Winter Storm Watch for Friday (12/6) Night; Monday Storm Still Likely

Oh how the landscape has changed in the last 24 hours. NOAA has issued a Winter Storm Watch for the Berkshires, which means we're in the 4-7" zone for the snow event tonight (Friday). Higher elevations will benefit more than lower elevations with this very fast moving storm. Look for the snow to start around 6 PM, perhaps even an hour earlier, and it should end by about 2 AM or 3 AM.

Had a decision about school been in play, we would have called for a 40% chance of a delay even with the WSW. Because it's a fast mover and because of the likelihood that we will be on the lower end of the 4-7" prediction, road crews would have been able to do their thing.

If you're planning on heading somewhere early Saturday morning, just know you'll need to factor in some car clean-off time. The best part of this storm is that it will certainly enhance the holiday spirit, which the GSD staff has been having a harder time than usual getting into this year. Perhaps it's the lingering food hangover from a late Thanksgiving. Whatever the cause of this unusual holiday malaise, tonight's storm will help make it look like the holidays.

As for the Monday event...

Like that crush you had in middle school, it's just one mixed signal after another. Both literally and figuratively, the amount of precipitation and the temperature are up in the air. A few models have been downgrading the amount of precipitation, but two other more recent runs of the computer models have started to swing the precipitation back up again.

What is very clear is the timing, which is just about perfect. Snow should start after midnight on Sunday--at least that's what we're saying now--and continue as snow into the pre-dawn hours when sleet and freezing rain could mix in. All in all, the commute on Monday is going to be a slippery slide. We think a delay is much more likely than a full snow day, and our chances of a delay are about 50/50. We'll know a lot more by Sunday morning, and we'll be sure to pronounce our "final word" on Monday's storm some time on Sunday afternoon.

Don't forget to vote for the first storm name!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Monday (12/9) Storm Taking Shape

Despite the warmth we have in store for us tomorrow (Thursday)--high near 50--there is a quite a bit of precipitation on the horizon for Friday and Monday. We should see light rain or drizzle on Friday with perhaps a few ticks of sleet mixed in. Toward the end of the precipitation period on Friday night, we could see a measurable snow burst (<1") as temps shoot back down to a more seasonable level (i.e. cold).

We like what we're hearing about the Sunday-into-Monday event, so much so that we're going to break out our first naming poll of the season. (We'll have to close the poll early Sunday morning so vote early and vote often!) The terms we're hearing are "moderate" and "heavy" for the snow in the post-midnight hours. During the morning commute, the snow will be changing over to sleet and freezing rain and then all rain, which could actually work out in our favor. To put it plainly: a snow day is not out of the question, and if we do get at least 3 inches of snow overnight, then delays are almost a certainty for Monday.

It's hard to say just how big this storm will get, but don't you worry. We're tapping our inner NSA agent and are all over this storm.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Freezing Fog (!) Alert

We don't get one often, but we have a freezing fog alert for Berkshire County. Yes! With fog moving in AND temperatures dipping below freezing tonight, we could see patchy black ice on the roadways because of the fog.

For you hopeful types, we don't think there will be any delays associated with this unusual winter weather event because alert municipal road crews will be able to treat surfaces before the school commute begins. We will not change the True North Confidence Meter in response to the freezing fog potential.

As for the end of the week, mixed precipitation is making a comeback and is a possibility on Friday. It's more likely that the snow and sleet will affect areas to our north, but the northern portion of the Berkshires could see some sleet mixing in with light rain on Friday.

Saturday looks okay, but then the anticipated Sunday/Monday storm comes into town. We'll see snow and mixed precipitation starting on Sunday afternoon (most likely), and the temps will not move above freezing until the late morning hours on Monday. So...the very real chance of a delay exists for Monday. We at GSD are eagerly awaiting the advancement of this storm.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Rain and Ice in the Long-term Forecast

The Northern Plains and Upper Midwest are getting a two-fisted pounding with "life-threatening" cold weather and a healthy dose of snow. Unfortunately, this storm will not track into the Northeast. We have too much warm in place. Historically, we don't see much snow when storms come out of the Northern Plains. The only exception is when the northern storm joins forces with a low pressure system emerging out of the Southeast and it becomes one giant coastal low.

As it stands now, we're not so enthused about our chances of a delay on Friday (see below). The amount of precipitation is expected to be very light, and by the time it does fall, the temps will be approaching 40 degrees. Another minor fizzle.

The good news, though, is that our ear to the ground is picking up some distant meteorological rumblings about a system for Sunday night into Monday or even Monday into Tuesday. Accuweather is forecasting ice for Tuesday; Intellicast and the Weather Channel are calling for a light wintry mix on Monday.

Ice is very difficult to predict but the GSD staff is up to the challenge and we will keep our eye on the December 9/10th weather event.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Chance for Delays on Friday (12-6)

For the calendar year 2013, we only have 15 snow day opportunities left. Can you believe it?

Here's the deal for the week of December 2nd. There had been an outside chance for a coastal storm (per the computer models) on Tuesday, but that ship sailed out to sea. Monday through Thursday are looking dry and fairly warm for this time of the year (high 30s, low 40s).

But Thursday night is when things start to get unsettled. While it does not look like a major storm is brewing, there could be enough precipitation and cold air streaming into our area to generate a messy commute on Friday. It's much too early to pin down any kind of clear time span for this period of wintry precipitation, but we'll keep our focus on Friday. The snow/sleet could extend into Saturday.

Keep your hopes up, dear Friends of GSD. We are in a generally unsettled pattern, and enough cold air is in place for snow, sleet, and freezing rain to fall in the Berkshires. Expect updates throughout the week.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving Storm Update

The National Weather Service is covering its behind by announcing a Winter Weather Advisory until 5 AM on Wednesday for Berkshire County. We at GSD think this announcement is overly optimistic that wintry precipitation will fall in our area.

As of 10 PM on Tuesday night, a steady rain was falling at the home office in Billsville with a temperature reading of 32.5 degrees. We might see the temps drop a degree or so, so icing is possible, but the radar and the generally warm feel to the air out there suggests there won't be significant icing in the overnight hours.

For those readers who have school on Wednesday, we'll keep a 10% chance in our Confidence Meter, but we think you'll have to endure your full half day before you're on a glorious four-day break from your edifice of higher learning.

We'll post later in the week with our long-range forecast for December.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Chance for a Pre-Storm Delay (11/26)

The National Weather Service has issued a Special Weather Statement for the Berkshires due to possible bursts of snow during the commute on Tuesday. With plenty of cold air in place overnight and a lot of moisture on the way in advance of the big Wednesday storm, we could be surprised with an inch on the ground as we make our way to school tomorrow.

Here's what the radar looked like at 10 PM on Monday:

The patch of blue out there in western New York is headed in an easterly direction and should arrive in the Berkshires around 4 AM. We don't think they'll be delays--superintendents will likely be caught off guard by this one--but we'll at least acknowledge this minor weathermaker with a 10% chance on the ol' True North Confidence Meter.

More about Wednesday's storm tomorrow.

Just a Bit Inside: The First Big Miss of the Season

Here's a good glimpse at the size of this pre-Thanksgiving blockbuster (almost) storm from our friends at NOAA-Albany: "This [storm] will nearly guarantee the heaviest precipitation in months over our region."

And we were really very, very close to a major snow event. The Adirondacks should see over half a foot of snow, and had the low pressure system tracked 75 miles to the east, the Berkshires would have been buried in snow. Instead, we'll nearly be drowned Tuesday afternoon into Wednesday with upwards of 3" of rain. It's never quite fair to do the rain/snow equivalent of 1" of rain equaling 10" of snow (it never quite works out that way), but do the math and you can see that we narrowly missed--as a grandma might have said--a doozy of a storm.

Look for rain to o'erspread the Berkshires in the early afternoon on Tuesday. We may see a few flakes and hear some sleet at the onset but that won't last for very long. We won't see banding with this storm (intense periods of precipitation) like we might with a snow-making nor'easter, but the rain will be moderate and steady and last all the way until Wednesday night. At the end of the storm, as we stated yesterday's post, we'll see a few bursts of snow showers and squalls as the temps drop significantly. These bursts of snow could accumulate up to 1".

We'll let you know if anything changes, dear snow followers. The good news is we see an unsettled weather pattern settling in for the next few weeks. "Unsettled" is a word we want to see in the forecast, as that means several low pressure systems will be visiting these parts.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Thanksgiving Eve (11/24) Storm Update

The computer models are starting to line up and all indications suggest we will have a major storm Tuesday night into Wednesday. Unfortunately, not enough cold air is going to be in place, and the bulk of the precipitation will be in the form of wet, wet rain.

For those of you begging for a snow day on Wednesday--not all schools in the Berkshires have school that day--your best chance is to hope for a significant period of ice (in the form of sleet) in the critical pre-dawn hours when superintendents make their call. One of the computer models is calling for this scenario, but we think that model is optimistic.

Officially, the GSD staff is calling for about an inch of slushy snow after midnight on Tuesday followed by a good, old-fashioned rain storm during the day on Wednesday. Travel of any kind in the Northeast on Wednesday will be a bear even if it doesn't snow that much. By Wednesday late afternoon the storm should be tapering down, and many locales on Wednesday night could see a few accumulating snow showers and snow squalls as the storm heads toward the Canadian Maritimes. As the storm departs, we'll see a significant drop in the temperature and it will feel like January on Turkey Day, not late November.

We'll keep updating this storm to see if we need to bump up our chances for a delay on Wednesday.

Friday, November 22, 2013

We're Dreaming of a White Thanksgiving

We'll see several chances for snow in the air over the next few days (Saturday 11/23 and Monday night 11/25). It's unlikely the snow will accumulate on the ground, but the airborne white stuff (flurries and showers, mostly) should brighten snowhound's spirits as we get more and more into the winter mood.

But the big news is a possible Wednesday storm. Who wouldn't love a five day weekend? Right now the snow forecasting models are all over the place, but one of them is calling for a low pressure to move up the east coast and into the Gulf of Maine on Wednesday. With below average temps firmly in place for the middle of next week, it's more likely than not that we'll see snow on Wednesday. How much--and how much that dastardly rain mixes in--all depends on the track of the low pressure and whether or not a secondary low forms and extends the period of precipitation for the Northeast.

As for the track of the storm, if it's too tight to the coast, we'll see the bulk of the snow fall in the Adirondacks. If the track is along the coast but not too tight, we could see a moderate snowfall (4-6") for Wednesday. If the track is even a little farther out, we'll definitely see snow but only an inch or two.

For those folks braving the highways and byways on Wednesday, you'll definitely want to keep your eyes and ears open about this potential medium-sized snow event.

That low over Georgia could track more northerly, bringing us our first storm of the season.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Eyes on a Saturday (Nov. 23) Winter Event

The latest news from NOAA is for a possible winter weather event for Saturday, November 23. A low pressure system will come out of the Ohio Valley Friday night and then do its strengthening thing along the mid-Atlantic coast on Saturday. The coastal low will move up toward Cape Cod and suck colder air over the top and down into our region. Right now it sounds like it's going to be a wetter winter storm, with rain, sleet and wet snow all mixing in together. Whether or not it's a plowable event is very much up in the air.

Because it's on a Saturday, we're not going to get too fired up about this storm's prospects. Still, it does sound as if it could impact games and travel on that day.

It's a little too early to even think about giving this storm a name, but we're definitely aware of its potential presence on Saturday for the Berkshires.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Forecast for November 18-22: [crickets chirping]

You hear that? You mean, you don't hear anything? Listen in close now. That noise is the sound of...crickets. As in NOTHING IS HAPPENING on the East Coast storm front these days. The hardworking members of the GSD Staff do not see any kind of snow event for at least a few weeks.

This upcoming week will be mild but not as mild as the lovely stretch of warmth we enjoyed this past Thursday through Saturday. We will see a major wind storm Sunday evening--with possible high wind advisories--and even a possible thunderstorm in our area. The threat of rain that will come with this wind should persist until Monday morning's commute. After that short stretch of wild weather, we will see temps and conditions moderate to more seasonal norms. We will see highs in the upper 30s and lower 40s, and nighttime lows will be in the low to mid 20s. And it will be mostly dry all the way through the weekend.

The next chance for snow showers will be on Saturday the 23rd. (That doesn't help our cause one bit.) If you're truly desperate for snow news, the best we can offer you is Accuweather's forecast for a wintry mix on Tuesday, December 3rd. We know that The Farmer's Almanac is bad at long range forecasts, but Accuweather is definitely a close second place. The likelihood of a real snow/ice event on the 3rd is very slim.  Occasionally, blind squirrels do find nuts so we'll keep an eye on it, but there are many long rows to hoe before we get to the 3rd.

Enjoy the last full week before Thanksgiving vacation! We hope to have better news soon.

Monday, November 11, 2013

NWS Issues Special Statement for the Tuesday (11/12) Commute

Happy Veteran's Day, everyone! The cold front we discussed yesterday is fast approaching. As the temperatures enter into a steep decline, we'll see moisture in the form of snow showers. Because there is a significant amount of moisture in the air, we could see intense snow squalls between the hours of 5 am and 9 am. Or so says the National Weather Service for parts of our region.

Plenty o' moisture.
Because of the brief, intense and sporadic nature of these squalls, schools really will have no opportunity to postpone school should the roads get coated with white stuff.

We don't think they'll be any problems with the commute tomorrow, but there's a chance it will be messy and you'll need extra time to get to school or work.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Week of November 11: Snow Showers Tuesday, Dry Thereafter

From this point forward, you can expect regular posts and updates from the crack staff at GSD because it is officially--and we've been waiting seven months to say these words--SNOW SEASON!

The first true sustained flurry of the season (was observed by the GSD Staff on Friday (Nov. 8) at about 7:45 in the mean streets of Williamstown. It didn't accumulate, but it sure was a sight for sore eyes.

As for this upcoming week, we have a very quiet week in store for us. Some of our more antsy snow hounds were champing at the bit about the news of a potential blockbuster storm predicted for the end of the week. Only one outlier computer model was predicting this major nor'easter, but that was all it took to ramp up the hype machine. Alas, that outlier model proved erroneous, and the big potential storm will sail out to sea to our south.

The cold front approacheth (from Accuweather).

But all is not lost for this week. We may see the ground covered with snow in the Berkshires when we wake up on Tuesday. A cold front will move through our area with possible light wet precipitation changing over to snow showers. Higher elevations should see the snow stick as it will be plenty cold enough, and there could be enough air in place in the lower elevations for snow. Whatever happens, accumulations will not impact the morning commute.

Our eyes are still open for the first impactful snow of the season. We may have to wait awhile, according to the long-range forecast for November and December.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Overnight Snow for October 29?

Snow season may officially begin tonight (Tuesday) as showers of the white variety may fall in the Berkshires in the overnight hours. It's certainly cold enough to snow, and the only question is whether or not the moisture coming from the northwest will penetrate the cold air over our region.

At the moment, we're not optimistic that we'll see any snow flakes tonight, let alone a covering on the ground by the morning commute. While it certainly is possible that you could wake up to big, wet flakes, the roads will be too warm for any accumulation.

Temps will warm up toward the weekend as we'll see a fairly large rain storm move into our region for Thursday night and Friday morning. The big concerns with this storm: Will it impact the annual candy gathering on Thursday? Will it impact a potential game 7 of the World Series on Thursday? Will it postpone any high school playoff contests on Friday? The storm gods must be smiling upon us because we think the answer to all three questions is "no." The storm should arrive in Western Massachusetts well after children should be in bed, and it will get to Boston a few hours after the end of a potential game 7. Also, the storm will move out of the Berkshires quickly enough on Friday to allow games to be played in the afternoon and evening.

As for next week, it looks like we'll be in the mid-50s during the day and in the 30s at night. There may be more wet weather mid- to late week. No need to hold your breath about snow. Despite the Farmer's Almanac prediction about a snow storm the week of November 5th, we just don't think that scenario in the cards. Once again, we don't think the front half of the winter season is going to be very stormy; we are, however, optimistic about our winter weather pattern after the New Year.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

2013-14 Winter Forecast & The Season's First Storm?

Welcome back, readers! Despite the absolutely lovely stretch of weather we've been enjoying this fall, we know the worm will turn at any point and we'll be bustling to find those sweaters, shovels, and snow boots tucked away in those corners of your homes and garages. In fact, we're going to see the temperatures nose southward this upcoming week and, without too much to get excited about, we could see our first flakes of the season. Hoo-ray!

The biggest recent weather news is that the Weather Channel announced its winter storm names that it will be using for the 2013-14 season, which is proof more positive than a narrow orange band 'round a wooly caterpillar that the first storm is around the corner.

Speaking of names...the GSD Staff had a long debate during our summer retreat on the beautiful shores of Lake Champlain about storm names. Should we jettison our naming system and go with The Weather Channel's? Around and around it went but ultimately we decided to keep our unique system. A) We enjoy receiving your input on names, and B) it gives us a good accounting of how many storms we end up having. Once again we remind you: female names for coastal storms; male names for storms that come out of the west (clipper-type systems). If a clipper system comes from the west and is expected to reform on the coast (a very typical pattern for us), we'll give it a female name. We will certainly acknowledge TWC's names, but our preferred storm names will be home grown.

But let's cut to the chase and get to the info you've all been waiting for. What kind of winter are we expecting for 2013-2014? Will we have the big fizzle of 2011-12? Will we have a normal winter, a la last year? Will 2013-14 just be one long blizztaculous snowmageddon? The early returns are in from all of our field experts and the word on the streets is we're in for--hold your collective breath now--an average winter with a slight chance of above average snowfall. Not exactly spine-tingling, is it?

First of all, what is an average winter? Around these parts, "average" means in the 50- to 60-inch range. Last year we Albany officially had 51.4 inches of snow (compared to 23.3 in 11-12 and 87.2 in 10-11). If we get 15" of snow in December, January, and February, and an outlier storm in November or March, we'll reach our average.

Unfortunately, the long-term forecast is indicating a very slow start to the winter for the Northeast. November will not feature the unseasonably warm weather we've been experiencing, but that dreaded warm weather is supposed to return for December.

At the moment, with all of our weather feelers out there, we don't see a stormy November or December in the offing. The good news is that there are indications that the second half of the winter will feature slightly above average moisture and slightly below average temperatures. More moisture + colder January and February temps = more snow. That's an equation even the most limited of math students can understand and one that the GSD Staff is embracing wholeheartedly. We think January and February are going to be exciting times indeed this year.

We wish we could announce the winter of 2013-2014 with trumpets, banners, and a pyrotechnics show, but Mother Nature will not be so munificent just yet. We are going to have to be patient this winter, as the really good storms will likely not materialize until 2014.

It's getting closer...and there are some rumblings that that swath of snow predicted for Northern New England will drop deeper into the mountainous regions of Western New England. Hey, that's us!

At the moment, though, we will hear "snow" and "snow showers" mentioned in the forecast for the middle of the week of Oct. 21st (see above). We'll certainly have our eye on this early storm to see if the snow area expands. Right now it looks like those lucky folks in the Adirondacks will be the ones seeing the first Northeast snow of the season.

Get those hats and mittens out--you're going to need them this week. And remember that you have to walk before you can run.