Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Possible Big Icy Trouble For Holiday Travelers In Vermont, Surrounding States This Weekend

No guarantees yet, but the forecast is looking more and more ominous for Vermont and surrounding states this weekend.
The University of Vermont campus in
Burlington, Vt during the Great Ice Storm
of 1998. Here's hoping Sunday's weather
won't turn out nearly as bad as this.  

The forecast for change, but right now there's the potential for a lot of sleet, ice, and possibly flooding rains. Maybe a little snow, too, but not much.

If only the storm would shift a little and give us snow, that would be great. But it's looking iffy.

The weather pattern that's setting up has a lot of similarities to the one which spawned the epic, historic 1998 ice storm in Vermont and New York.

That's not to say it will be as bad as the 1998 disaster; it probably won't be. But there still could be some real trouble brewing, especially on Sunday.

Let's start with Friday, though. The first, and weakest in a series of disturbances will come by with some snow and mixed precipitation. This first round won't be particularly heavy. It will be enough to mess up the roads and cause travel difficulties across northern New England and northern New York.

But there won't be huge accumulations of ice or feet of snow to deal with.

The real problem could come along Saturday night and Sunday. A very warm airmass will park itself in the southeastern United States. Temperatures could go as high as 70 degrees in Washington DC.

The warm air, combined with a huge, huge supply of moisture, will surge toward the north. But at the same time, very chilly air will bleed south from Canada. The cold air will stay down near the surface in Vermont, while the warm air goes up and over the top of the cold air that will be here.

The result of this could be a lot of freezing rain. A weather front will stall nearby, and could focus the icy precipitation over Vermont.  Basically we would be in the battle zone between warm and cold.

This means not only will the roads be wicked dangerous Sunday, there might be enough freezing rain to cave in a lot of trees and power lines.

This won't last as long as the 1998 storm, so it won't be as bad, but it could still get pretty destructive.

Also, if it does manage to get above freezing, which is most likely in southern Vermont, the combination of heavy rain, snow melt and frozen ground could trigger flooding.

But I emphasize: This is just a preliminary forecast. I could be getting worked up for no reason.  Forecasting ice storms is tricky, especially days in advance like everyone is trying to do now.

Maybe the storm won't have as much moisture as we think and it won't rain as much. Maybe it will be warmer than expected and we'll get rain and some flooding, which is unpleasant, but better than an huge ice storm.

Maybe it'll be a little colder than we think, and we'll get more sleet and snow, and less freezing rain than expected. That would be good because though sleet is dangerous on roads, and not much fun to shovel or walk on, at least it's less likely to weigh down branches and power lines until they break.

So stay tuned to forecasts. There's a chance things could get ugly Sunday, but only a chance.

I'll just do my anti-ice dance and hope for the best.

No comments:

Post a Comment