•We are entering what may be the longest duration of sub freezing temperatures this region has had in years, temps may not get above freezing for the next 14+ days
•Ice growth of rivers, lakes and streams will be swift and significant
•Good time to protect your pipes from freezing
•The warmest temps will be measured in 20’s instead of teens for highs
•Two shots of snow this week into next week, Friday Night into Saturday (minor/nuisance snow) and again on Sunday Night into Monday (moderate snow potential)
Details/Bit of geek session-
One thing is for sure, cold air will be locked into the region over the coming days and weeks. Yes, I said weeks! The latest data suggests that the HV will not see a day above the freezing mark through at least the beginning of February! There is good reason to believe that we will be looking at some of the most impressive ice build up on rivers and streams that we have seen in quite some time. At this point a deep snow pack would be beneficial in providing some level of insulation to the ground, without snow cover and these sustained below normal temps, we will certainly be looking at some increasingly deep frost lines across the region. As we have mentioned over the last week, the big difference between this wave of arctic air and the previous, is the sustained duration of this second round. While there will be brief moderation in the temperatures, we are only speaking twenties verses teens in most of these circumstances. At this point it’s best to be prepared for what may me the longest stretch of below normal temps that we have seen in many winters.
Only question left to ask is will this cold air go to good use and produce any snow across the region? Or will we remain cold and mostly dry, with only passing shots at light snow? So far this winter we have not seen a pattern that has been ideal for moisture laden storms with optimal tracks that would produce significant snowfalls across the region. While it may not seem like we have seen much snow this winter, most location are more than half way to their average annual snowfall, and in some cases nearing their average. What has given the impression of little snow, is the shelf life of the snow pack we have received. Immediately after our two most significant storms this season, we entered a warming period, laced with significant rainfalls that all but eliminated any snow pack that existed in a matter of days. This, of course, has left the majority of this winter brown and muddy verses white and frozen.
One of the major factors for this roller coaster of a season has been a mostly neutral North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), and a southern jet stream that refuses to play nice with the polar jet stream. This means we have not seen many storms develop in the gulf of Mexico and have been left dealing with clippers, or late developing coastal storms that quickly pull away to the NE, or track too far off shore for a major impact. The significance of storms that develop in the southern jet stream is that they have much more time to develop into healthy systems, and they also have an unlimited supply of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, and then again from the Atlantic as they ride up the eastern seaboard. The significance of a negative NAO is its ability to buckle (develop a deep trough) in the jet stream, and its ability to slow down the speed of a storm trying to exit the East coast. Meaning more hours of precipitation, and more time to deepen into a significant storm. Furthermore, the deeper the trough the more likely a storm is to form in the Gulf of Mexico, and in return its ability to track close to the coast.
I know its a lot to swallow, but it’s the best laymen’s explanation I can come up with given the complexities of the climate and weather patterns. If even a few of you understood that ramble, then I suppose it was worth the key strokes (and my girlfriends sub-par editing skills).
The big question that remains: During this long cold snap will the pattern evolve into one that will support more moisture-laden, slower-moving storms with tracks that support HV snow storms? As of now, the best answer: Maybe in the beginning of February. The concern becomes how long can this cold air possibly survive? If the pattern evolves as the cold air is retreating, then we will only end up with a bunch of moisture in its liquid form. These are things yet to be determined.
In the meantime, we look ahead to the next seven days and we see two opportunities at snow:
1. A light/nuisance event that a clipper may produce on Friday night into Saturday. The clipper has limited moisture available, but cold temps may help us squeeze one inch, or two, across the valley locations with more possible across the Catskills.
2. On Sunday night into Monday, another clipper will pass through the region, this one we will have to keep an eye on. Depending on its track, it may have the ability to tap into some Atlantic moisture and throw back a bit more than one or two inches of snow.