Sunday, January 10, 2016

Damaging Big Winds, Rain, Ugly Day in New England Today

Damage to a farm during a downslope windstorm
along the westenr slopes of Vermont's Green Mountains
in December, 2010.
Today's a GREAT day to stay inside and watch television in Vermont and the rest of New England, along with much of New York State.

That's assuming the power stays on.

A strengthening storm is moving up through the Great Lakes today. It's the same one that was partially responsible for a tornado last night that injured three people in Cape Coral, Florida.

This strong storm has a lot of screaming winds with it just a few thousand feet above the Earth's surface, and certain conditions will make some of this strong wind mix down to where people live, at least in some parts of New England.

One target area is the western slopes of the Green Mountains.

In today's sort of set up, there's going to be a strong east wind that will go up and over the Green Mountain range. Think of water in a brook going up and over a submerged rock and you can sort of get the picture of how the wind is behaving.

Often, a layer of colder air jus below the mountain summits might temporarily block the flow of air that wants to go up and over the mountains, then down the western slopes of the Green Mountains.

The air piles up and becomes pressurized, as if we built a dam just downstream from that rock in the brook.

After a while, the air behind that dam breaks through it, and roars down the western slopes of the Green Mountains. Which is why you get the bursts of strong, damaging gusts along those western slopes. It's like the rush of water you get if the brook bursts through that dam you built.

In the worst cases, I've seen these western slope gusts reach 90 mph or even a little more.

That's why Green Mountain Power is taking no chances. They've got trucks and people deployed and ready to go, because they're expecting power failures.  You can see some of what these western slope wind storms can do in Vermont in the video at the bottom of this post.

Winds late this morning and this afternoon could gust as high as 65 or 70 mph in a few spots along the immediate western slopes of the Green Mountains from Cambridge/Underhill Vermont all the way down into Rutland County around Mendon, Shrewsbury and that area. Even areas east and northeast of Bennington could get in on the action.

The western slopes of the Adirondacks could also get strong winds today as well, and a high wind warning is posted there.

In Massachusetts, high wind warnings are up for much of Cape Cod, the Islands, and Cape Ann. There will be a fairly brief period this afternoon of winds gusting past 60 mph there.  This is especially true as a cold front approaches.

There might be a few embedded thunderstorms, or at least towering shower clouds. These, too, could "grab" high level winds and bring them down to the surface.

Downeast Maine could also see some strong, damaging winds this afternoon and evening.

Coastal flood advisories and warnings are also up along Long Island and the New Jersey shore, too.

The rest of New England and New York will probably be fairly windy as well, with gusts in many areas in the 40 to 50 mph range.

There's going to be quite a bit of rain, too. Bad news for the ski industry, as the rain will fall even on mountain summits.

In fact, there's a flood watch out for much of New Hampshire and parts of western Maine because the one to two inches of rain, combined with melting snow could lead to some flood problems.

In the rest of New England and New York, there might well be some trouble with water ponding on roads, flooding in poor drainage areas, that type of thing.

During this brief burst of warm weather during the storm, a few towns and cities in New England could see some record high temperatures for the date.

Winter comes back tomorrow, and unlike the brief visit last week, it's going to stick around for awhile.

I don't see signs of extreme cold or extreme snows in the next week, but Northeast ski areas will recover from today's rain through almost daily periods of snow and good weather for snowmaking

In additon, the lake effect snow machine is going to get cranking, and some of the traditional western New York snow belts are about to get clobbered. Up to two feet of snow might fall under the more persistent squalls.

Here's that video of what one of those Vermont western slope wind storms look like. This one was in Williston, back in December, 2010.

At best, these western slope wind storms can just be loud and unpleasant, as shown in this video I took in Underhill, Vermont, December, 2012:

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