Weather Blog: Significant icing and flooding through Sunday

SkyTracker Blog

Good Saturday evening!

Despite the wind, I hope you enjoyed some of the record-breaking warmth today. 50s and 60s made for quite the memorable January thaw. But, we’re all zeroed in on a cold front tonight with a very impressive, but shallow layer of cold air sinking south tonight, accompanied by periods of heavy rain.

Quick disclaimer, with all that low-level moisture present from melting snow and a very saturated atmosphere (remember we’re tapping into air from the Gulf of Mexico along this boundary between warm and cold air) areas of dense fog will form during breaks in the rainfall.

Okay, let’s get back to it…

With top temps today reaching well into the 50s and 60s, you may have been lulled into a Spring-like denial. Unfortunately, the threat from significant icing is very real along the Canadian border and through the Champlain Valley overnight. The temp is dropping quickly this evening along the Canadian border, eventually falling into the 20s by daybreak Sunday. Cold air is very heavy and dense, and will essentially sink down into the Champlain Valley.

Click through to see what temp trend looks like:

As those temps plummet north, they remain relatively steady south. It’s a warm night to cap off a warm day, and even tomorrow morning may briefly take temps deeper into the 50s before that front swings all that way through, cooling us down into the teens by Monday morning.

Back north, along the Canadian border and through the Champlain Valley, the temp falls below 32° from 8 PM to midnight. This is where the freezing rain takes over, from north to south. A significant icy buildup of 0.10-0.50″ through the southern half of the Champlain Valley, north-central Vermont and right along the Canadian border in the Northeast Kingdom is bested by the northern half of the Champlain Valley, points north of the Adirondacks in New York and the St. Lawrence River valley, where 0.5-1.0″ is likely. Up to 1″ of sleet could be possible, too.

With that level of icing, expect power outages, tree damage and dangerous road conditions. Ice may be quick to build up on elevated surfaces such as street signs, power lines and trees, but take a little longer to affect paved surfaces considering today’s warmth. Roads and sidewalks will be very slick by Sunday morning!

Beyond freezing rain, there’s another threat we’re faced with and that’s flooding. Melting snow and 1-2″ in total weekend rainfall will pour into our region’s watershed. Smaller creeks and streams will experience sharp rises and by Sunday afternoon, many of our larger rivers are expected to crest at minor or moderate flood stage. Be sure to check your basement and low-lying, poor-drainage depressions on your property. If you live along a waterway, in a flood-prone location, keep a close watch and be prepared to evacuate.

Widespread rain exits late morning to midday, but scattered rain or then, snow showers, remain through Sunday afternoon. There’s a chance for a coating to 1-2″ of snow over the higher terrain of northern New York and, slightly less so, Vermont. A gusty northwest wind kicks up to 10-15 mph and could gust to 30 mph, which will prove especially problematic in ice-laden communities.

I hope by now you have made the proper preparations and have a winter survival kit at the ready. Do you have a plan in place for a multi-day outage, particularly if your heat source relies on electricity? Do your flashlights have batteries? Take the time tonight to charge your cell phone and if you’re on well water, fill a few buckets or the tub.

Be safe!

-Skytracker Chief Meteorologist Amanda Thibault

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