2016 has started out with Winter finally making it's appearance, and, aside from a quick relaxation tomorrow, that theme looks to continue throughout the forecast period. We'll see a strong system cut to our west tomorrow and bring us heavy rain before a strong arctic front moves through and brings winter-like temperatures back to the region, along with two possible chances for some wintry weather in the forecast.
First, tomorrow's system. As previously mentioned, a strong low comes through the Midwest and, with nothing to force it out under us, it runs up through western New York, placing us squarely in the warm sector of the system. As such, we'll see a quick surge of warmth move into the state, with temperatures tomorrow topping out in the mid to upper 50s, which is fifteen to twenty degrees above normal. Furthermore, because the storm is passing closer to our west, over western NY, instead of further west into the Great Lakes or even the Plains, we will be closer to it's center and thus right in the middle of the heaviest precipitation. I'm expecting rain to break out over the course of the early morning hours tomorrow, and by 7 AM or so, the whole state should be raining. Moderate to heavy rain persists throughout the morning into the afternoon before tapering off west to east in the late afternoon and early evening, with most rain being out of the state by 7 PM. We're looking at around an inch to an inch and a half of rain across most of the state, but some areas will see up to two inches as convection-induced downpours make an appearance.
The system will begin to move out Sunday evening, and as it does so, it will drag a strong cold front down from the northwest and bring much more seasonable air back to the state. By Monday morning, we will see lows in the upper 20s, and highs for Monday will be right around the freezing mark. Fair skies are expected for Monday with a chance of some flurries due to some rouge Lake Effect bands as well as general squall action, although most of the squalls and Lake Effect snows should be focused to our north and west. Cannot rule out a dusting for some though, especially in the NW corner of the state.
Here's a comparison between forecast high temperatures on Sunday and lows on Monday morning from the GFS model. Quite the drop!
The second scenario, as of now, appears to be the consensus on the model guidance, with the general theme to be delaying the transfer of the primary until it is right over us, and thus not reforming the secondary until it is in the Gulf of Maine. This brings a substantial snowfall to eastern Maine and Nova Scotia, but still brings some snow showers and perhaps a period of light snow to the state on Tuesday afternoon and evening. We could see coastal areas start as rain before a changeover to snow occurs after dark, but as of now, I'm hedging towards most precipitation falling as snow, albeit possibly non-accumulating along the coastline. In this scenario, we'd see a coating to an inch of snow across most of the state, with the coastline seeing just "white rain" to perhaps a coating. I wouldn't rule out some isolated amounts of up to two inches if some localized areas of moderate snow can briefly develop, but in general, I think snow showers and light snow will rule the roost for Tuesday afternoon. This system will likely not have any major impacts to the PM commute, but remember to be alert and slow down if road conditions worsen!
It should be noted that a small subset of the guidance, that being the GGEM and the NAM, continue to advertise an earlier transfer and thus the state catching the edge of the resulting coastal system. This would likely result in rain for southern and eastern areas, but perhaps a few inches of snow for northern and western sections. Considering these models penchant to over-amplify systems and their generally weak performance this winter and overall, I am discounting their solutions for now, but it's worth mentioning as a long-shot possibility. As of now though, I'm leaning towards a minor event with this one.
Here's a look at the system at 7 PM Tuesday night on the GFS and NAM models.
The eyes of meteorologists across the northeast, however, are focused to the very end of the forecast period, where the strongest signal of the season for a potentially widespread wintry event awaits. A strong PNA ridge builds along the west coast into the Pacific, which will serve to encourage a train of disturbances to dive down into the CONUS and make their way across the country. At the same time, we have seen the AO go negative, and, over the next few days, we will see the NAO go negative as well for the first time in quite some time during the winter months. Essentially, that means that we will create a block for any potential system to run into, ensuring that that system could not cut to our west and would instead be forced out under us and into a coastal storm. Model guidance is all over the map on how these individual disturbances are handled, and, as happens frequently in the model world, we will likely not know much about the next system until we clear the system before it from the grids. While it is way too early to start talking dates or details, I am rather encouraged by the look on the long-range modeling for the period that begins with our clipper system mid-week, and that has no immediate end in sight. It should be reminded that potential is just potential and not an absolute, and it's possible to strike out in a great pattern and hit a grand slam in a bad one. All we can say at this point is that the window of opportunity is there, and now it's up to Lady Luck to see how it all plays out. You know that when the storms start to show their cards, there's no better bet to make than to track them right here with us at SCW, and as soon as we have something reliably on guidance to talk about, you bet you'll be hearing about it from us!
Here are the dailies:
Sunday. Rain, heavy at times. Highs in the mid to upper 50s. Chance of precipitation is 100%
Monday: A chance of snow showers, otherwise, mostly cloudy, with highs around freezing. Chance of precipitation is 20%
Tuesday: Snow showers likely in the afternoon. Highs in the upper 30s. Chance of precipitation is 70%
Wednesday: A chance of snow showers, otherwise, mostly cloudy, with highs in the low to mid 20s. Chance of precipitation is 20%
Thursday: A chance of snow showers, otherwise, partly sunny, with highs in the mid to upper 20s. Chance of precipitation is 20%
Friday: A chance of snow showers, otherwise, partly sunny, with highs in the low to mid 30s. Chance of precipitation is 20%
Saturday: Partly sunny, with highs in the upper 30s to lower 40s.
Have a great rest of your weekend and thanks for reading SCW!