Our best guess is that the snow will start tonight after midnight, so it should be snowing when the all-important phone calls start happening between Superintendents, bus companies, and road crew chiefs. The precipitation will be light throughout the day, and we should see the snow pick up in intensity Thursday afternoon and evening. It is also likely that the snow will continue to fall through Friday morning's commute.
What we like about this storm:
1. The high snow to liquid ratio. Because of the cold, we could see a ratio of 15 to 20 inches of snow for each inch of liquid. The current prediction for liquid precipitation is about 0.8 inches. No matter how you slice it, that's at least a foot of snow.
2. This observation from the Channel 6 (Albany) weather team:
It's important to note, that although accumulation rates appear will be slow through much of the event, meaning road crews should have an easy time keeping up with it, the fact that it will be so cold will mean melting agents will have a limited effectiveness. This means road surfaces are likely to be snow packed and unusually slick for a prolonged period of time from Wednesday night into Friday morning.3. The timing. Early in the week the timing was looking shaky, but now we think it will cover two morning commutes.
What we don't like:
1. The intensity. We might not see any bands of moderate or heavy snow with this storm, which could allow road crews to manage the roads, despite what Channel 6 says.
2. The coastal low. The coastal low that will form for the second part of the storm will go out to sea. It will spread moisture over our area but more to our south than directly over us.
3. Forecast model exaggeration. Both the North American and the European models have consistently overshot the mark this winter (except on one occasion).
Will there be school tomorrow? You're not going to like this, but we're not sure yet. We'll need to take a good, hard look at the radar later in the day. Our gut instinct says we will have a better chance at an early release than a full snow day given the lightness of the snow. But with a forecast for snow all day that will only fall harder as the day progresses, it would be very easy for a superintendent to keep it safe and keep buses off the roads.
We'll have a more definitive prediction later this afternoon, along with a few more maps. Enjoy your New Year's Day!