It's now certain that we're going to see our first significant snow storm of the season. A strong nor'easter is tracking up the coast, and looks to impact the Holland Patent area for Thursday night and early Friday morning. Snow should overspread the region from north to south Thursday evening. The cold temperatures we've seen these past few days will allow the snow to have no problem sticking to roads that have not been salted. Take your time if you plan on traveling Thursday night. The heaviest of the snow looks to fall between 2 AM and 5 AM*. There are still some questions over how long the snow will continue into Friday morning. Some models shut the snow off by 6 AM, and others keep the flakes flying through the mid-morning. Up to this point, I have been predicting a delay, but some of the newest data makes, yes, a closing more likely. Ultimately, I think we'll still see a delay, but the chance of a closing is now not out of the question. The latest snow day/delay predictions can be found by clicking here.
*see "The Wild Cards" section
By noon Friday, I predict the Holland Patent region will see between 6" and 10" of snowfall. Because temperatures will be close to freezing, the snow that falls will be wet and heavy, making travel dangerous in the morning. Areas south and east of Utica might see slightly less snow, as they have a possibility of sleet, which cuts down on totals.
The Wild Cards
There are two wild cards that could play a significant role in determining our final snowfall total. The first of which is sleet. Some weather models have the sleet-snow line right on our doorstep, while others keep it comfortably to the south of our area. The image to the left is the GFS model for 6 AM. The sleet, represented by the pink, is just to our south (Holland Patent is just to the right of the "C" in the middle of the map, created by the county borders). On the other hand, the NAM model for 6 AM keeps the sleet closer to Albany.
My personal feeling is that the sleet will stay just to our south. If it does reach us, our total will be closer to 6", but travel will be more treacherous.
The other wild card to watch will be the development of what is called the "deformation zone". In a nor'easter, wind is coming from two directions: the south and the northeast. A low pressure system is responsible for the southerly wind, while high pressure in Canada is responsible for the northeast winds. In the middle of the two systems, the wind strength is even. As a result, the winds essentially cancel each other out, and the precipitation stalls out. The area under this narrow zone gets an enhanced accumulation, as the snow remains over the area for an extended period of time. Some models are indicating that this will form in the area. Because a slight fluctuation in the wind can change the position of the deformation zone, it is very hard to pinpoint the exact location one. The area under this zone will likely see heavy snow into the mid-morning, while everywhere in Central New York should clear out after 7 AM or so. Below, is a model projection for a deformation zone tomorrow at 9 AM. The heavy snow is the darker blue. The image on the right is the snowfall projection of that model. Note the much higher amounts in the deformation zone.
I think the deformation zone will set up just to the east of the district, but it would not take much at all to push it over our way.