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

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

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!

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