Weather Blog: ‘Warm’ winter storm brings rain, snow and big wind gusts

SkyTracker Blog

A messy, complex winter storm takes aim during the Thursday morning commute promising a walloping of brief, but heavy rain, snow and strong southeasterly wind gusts. Let’s break it down.

Today, a warm front lifting north through our region and into southern Quebec brought temps up into the mid 30s to around 40 degrees. And, that is where they remain overnight. As snow showers associated with that boundary push into Canada, areas of fog may form through around midnight. Then, heavy rain and snow kick-off.

Between 1 AM and 1 PM, precip spreads north as one area of low pressure moves through the St. Lawrence River Valley and a secondary low spins-up just about over top of us. Between the two, a tightening pressure gradient leaves western slope communities dealing with strong, potentially damaging wind gusts. We’ll start there and circle back to the snow and rain.

A southeasterly wind rushes down the western side of our area mountain ranges Thursday morning at 20-30 mph sustained, gusting to 40-60 mph. The core of strongest wind gusts will likely be found over eastern Addison and eastern Rutland county. The National Weather Service has highlighted the areas where the strongest gusts could create scattered power outages and tree damage. Though no headlines were issued for Franklin County, New York, Malone may also see brief strong gusts. Click through to check out the High Wind Warning and Wind Advisory.

By Thursday afternoon, the wind will weaken and shift to out of the west. This, along with falling temperatures, will facilitate terrain-driven snow showers that could add some bonus accumulation (to the tune of 1-4″) through Friday for favorable areas that cash in on upslope or lake-effect snow, courtesy of Lake Ontario.

Backing up, Thursday morning is a messy mix of heavy rain and snow. Large valleys are likely looking at all rain. From 1000-2000′, rain will mix with snow with a coating to a couple inches possible by midday. Above 2000′ is where we find the cold air locked away. Slushy, wet snow of 4-8″ piles up quickly, with close to one foot across mountain peaks. This widespread, heavy precipitation is very short-lived, wrapping up by lunchtime. Also, it’s worth noting that there could be a few rumbles of thunder as that secondary low forms.

It’s important to remember that with a storm like this one (which we have become quite accustomed to this winter) any slight difference in actual air temp vs. modeled air temp could completely change what happens. These complex thermal profiles that center around the freezing mark make for a challenging forecast.

Thursday morning commuters should anticipate heavy rain or snow (or both), standing water and an elevated risk for hydroplaning, slushy or snow-covered roads at higher elevations, strong wind gusts, downed tree limbs, and perhaps even dark traffic lights. This is a very fast-moving storm, but it will race by with a bit of a mean streak to it!

Stay safe!

-Chief Meteorologist Amanda Thibault

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