Weather Blog: Weekend storm impacts vary greatly by location, elevation

SkyTracker Blog

Good evening and happy Friday!

After some beautiful sunshine today and highs in the mid 30s to near 40°, clouds quickly filtered back in again this afternoon. We, of course, know this is happening out ahead of a very messy, complex and long-duration winter storm unfolding this weekend. There’s a LOT going on here with timing and impacts varying to a LARGE degree across our region, depending on your location and elevation.

Let’s start with tonight. It’s a very quiet night up until a few hours before daybreak. Clouds will thicken up and lower as temps hover in the low to mid 30s. The wind does pick up a tad, from the southeast at 5-15 mph. Meanwhile, off to our west, a broad area of low pressure moves out of the Upper Midwest and into the northern Great Lakes. Out ahead of this low, along an occluded frontal boundary, a secondary low develops over the mid-Atlantic. This treks north fairly close to the Vermont and New Hampshire state line. This path still allows for plenty of warm air to wrap around the front of the low and push temps in the immediate Champlain and Connecticut River Valleys (plus, frankly most of central and southern New Hampshire) into the mid and upper 30s – yes, that means more rain than snow. However, in New York, on the colder side of the low, we won’t need to gain quite as much elevation Saturday to find snow.

Before we get into the all-important snow forecast, let’s chat about the wind. For most, the wind is not a big deal with this storm. However, particularly western facing slopes of the southern Green Mountains bare the brunt of a southeasterly wind gusting to 30-40 mph. This, combined with slushy snow accumulation, could lead to scattered to numerous outages. The wind will be strongest late morning Saturday.

Alright, let’s get into it! Between midnight and 5 AM, rain and snow (with a cutoff between the two wavering around 1000′) will spread north into the Adirondacks and southern Vermont. Snowfall rates Saturday morning in the southern Green Mountains and portions of western and central Essex county (NY) may reach 2″ per hour. Precip spreads north into the early afternoon, though we’re farther removed from the better Atlantic moisture in northern New York and northern Vermont. This first part of the storm is a bit of a ‘dud’ for you there. As rain and snow lift north of the border late Saturday afternoon into the evening, and we enter a dry slot or lull period of the storm, those near or above 1000′ in the Adirondacks and southern and central Vermont will need to shovel between 4″ and 12″ of cement-like snow (totals go up as elevation increases).

That’s only round number one! By Saturday night, our wind shifts to out of the west and a second round of more powdery snow kicks off. This lingers into Sunday morning, gradually becoming terrain-driven throughout the day with snow showers retreating into the mountains by late Sunday and not completely wrapping up there until Monday. This westerly flow really favors northern higher terrain and helps boost those snow totals, particularly in north-central Vermont and the Northeast Kingdom.

If you were still hoping for more or aren’t in a spot poised to cash in on much with this one, remember what we’ve been saying for more than a week now. Atmospheric signals across the globe point towards a more active second half of January and this first storm is really just the jumping off point for us. Next week is more seasonable (highs in the mid to upper 20s and nighttime lows in the teens or single digits) and more active, too. Wednesday and Friday, a few weaker, quick-moving systems pass by to help us grow that snowpack.

Have a great weekend! Stay safe on the roads!

-Skytracker Chief Meteorologist Amanda Thibault

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