Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Blizzard/Winter Storm Pummeling Vermont And The Rest Of The Northeast.

Just before dark, the road in front of my St. Albans, Vermont
was still a blizzardy horror show. 

Well, same old, same old as of 7 p.m. as the snow continues to pile up in Vermont, eastern New York, New Hampshire and other places.

The forecast for the rest of tonight looks to stay totally on track, as least from what I can tell.

The storm's heaviest snow band as of 6:30 had set up over the Adirondacks and eastern New York. This is called a 'deformation zone" which is common in nor'easters.

The deformation zone is an arc of heavy snow that very often sets up on the western periphery of a strong nor'easter.

In much of Vermont, we're getting something called a "dry slot" as of early evening, but in this case the dry slot isn't all that dry.

Dry slots often happen when less wet air gets wrapped into the circulation of a storm.

In this case, though, the "dry slot" still has a fair amount of snow in it. Snow is coming down in at least moderate to at times heavy intensity throughout Vermont.

No matter what, it's going to snow a lot more in the next few hours. We'll have to watch that deformation zone in eastern New York. First of all, it's dumping very heavy snow in the Adirondacks. A couple feet of new snow is already on the ground near Lake Placid.

As the nor'easter itself slowly pulls away toward, well, the northeast, that deformation zone might slowly move back across Vermont, intensifying the snowfall even further in the Green Mountain State.

I'm on the edge of that zone of heavy snow in the northwest corner of Vermont and I can attest it's coming down pretety damn hard outside my window in St. Albans.  In fact, it seems to have picked up a bit in the past half hour.

Earlier today, between 4 and 5 p.m., I had five inches of new snow within that hour. Snow slowed down to the rate of about 1.5 to 2 inches per hour after that, but as I said, it's picked back up.

So has the wind. For the first time today, I'm seeing frequent gusts that I would say are going past 30 mph. Needless to say, the blowing and drifting is getting to be a worse and worse problem.

Several Vermont locations have gusted past 40 mph in the past couple of hours, including 43 mph in Vergennes, 41 mph in South Burlington and 40 mph in Mendon.

I noticed a WPTZ-TV reporter doing a live report in Plattsburgh, New York amid heavy snow and 40 mph wind gusts wearing ski goggles. He totally did the right thing.

I would not be the very least bit surprised if these winds continue to increase this evening. After all, the nor'easter continues to strengthen, and often, the strongest winds often come when the storm reaches the New England Coast, or heads up toward Maine which is what it is doing now and will continue to do in the next few hours.

Snowfall totals continue to impress me more and more.  There are now many reports of over a foot of snow in Vermont, and we're not nearly done yet. Franklin, in northwestern Vermont is was already up to 17 inches as of late afternoon.

At my place in St. Albans, it's hard to measure, but I was up to at least 14 inches as of 6:15 p.m.

Elsewhere, snowfall totals include 23.5 inches in Lake Placid, New York, several reports of 24 to 28 inches in the Hudson Valley of New York,  30 inches in Damascus, Pennsylvania.

There's a lot more I could talk about, but I'll update later.

Cars stuck in the Blizzard of '17 on Fairfield Hill Road
in front of my house, St. Albans, Vermont this afternoon. 

The severe part of the storm certainly hit northwestern Vermont last this afternoon. I went outside briefly a while ago and I would say the sky was projectile vomiting snow.

By that I mean, that outside my window as of 4:30 p.m., snow was coming down at a wild rate of three inches per hour in St. Albans, Vermont.

Visibility is zero, and the wind is definitely blowing the snow around.

I live on a rather heavily traveled road with a steep hill. The cars all got stuck on the hill, including the Vermont state snow plow.

It's a total mess.

That intense snow band, as expected, has pivoted to a southwest to northeast direction, from the southern Adirondacks through western Vermont.

It might continue to pivot back further, and snow might become lighter at times in southeastern Vermont.

It goes without saying that you should remain in your house tonight as the blizzard rages.

Snow totals are still going to range in the 18 to 24 inch range across Vermont and eastern New York with locally higher amounts.

The snow is still expected to turn much lighter after midnight tonight, but continue all day Wednesday, with several more inches of accumulation expected.]

Strong winds will also continue through Wednesday, so we know there will be TONS of blowing and drifting snow.

At last check, I only had snowfal accumulations to 2 p.m. in Vermont. The most I've seen is nine inches in Rutland, but I'm sure a lot of places have gone way past that.

Elsewhere, the center of the storm passed directly over the National Weather Service offices in Upton, New York, which covers New York City. The air pressure bottomed out at 975 millibars, which means what we already knew: This is one intense storm.

Winds have really cranked along the Massachusetts coast, with gusts as high as 70 mph reported.

I'm speechless. And staying in tonight, let me tell ya.

Here's a tweet I put out a little while ago, showing the stuck traffic on my hill in St. Albans, Vermont:


Latest update from the National Weather Service
in South Burlington, Vermont has 18-24
inches total accumulations for all of Vermont,
with locally highter amounts. 
The heart of the storm is here in Vermont and it will continue to intensify through the afternoon and evening.

It's snowing heavily statewide. It's now become nearly certain this will among the Top 20 largest snowstorms on record in Vermont. It could easily be among the Top 10. This is going to be a memorable storm, for sure.

If anything, the snow intensity will pick up more in the next couple of hours. If you haven't done any road trips or errands today yet in Vermont, too late now. Stay home.

In some areas, the wind has picked up. I've seen a few gusts to 30 mph in some parts of northern New York, and across Vermont and New Hampshire.

For the first time today, there was noticeable blowing snow in addition to the heavy falling snow visible out my St. Albans, Vermont window as of 2:30 p.m.

One interesting tidbit came from what's called a Mesoscale Discussion from NOAA's Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma before 2 p.m. today.

(This outfit usually does these analyses of tornadoes and severe thunderstorms, but also examines big snow and/or rain storms like this one.)

Anyway, the Storm Prediction Center noted that intense band of snow moving northward through New England, and told us what we already told you: That it was about to overspread the rest of the North Country.

But here's the interesting part: The western part of this band will curve more toward a north-south orientation and stall, which sometimes happens with nor'easters.

This is a particularly intense band, though, so it's going to really snow hard under it. The Storm Prediction Center says it might stall over eastern New York and western New England, which would include a lot of Vermont.

This is not guaranteed, but it might really enhance the depth of the snow in some locations, espeically where they just noted.

A map in the Mesoscale Discussion depicted the band stalling somewhere along a line from west of Albany, New York, through the southern Adirondacks, and into Vermont roughly on a Burlington to Newport line.

These stalled bands are typically dozens of miles wide, so i this comes to fruition, much of Vermont and eastern New York could be in for a very, very snowy evening, and snowfall accumulations could be on the  high side of current predictions.

Heavy snow falling on my driveway at 2:30 pm.
in St. Albans, Vermont. Snow is likely to intensify further. 
The National Weather Service in South Burlington, Vermont has changed their map of expected total snowfall, bumping up totals again.

They expect everywhere in Vermont to get at least 18 inches of snow. Some places in the higher elevations will get 30 inches, according to the map. Many places are in for two feet of it.

Whereever this band sets up, it'll weaken and move on late tonight, so forecasts of much lighter snow late tonight and Wednesday still look good.

Elsewhere, there's these tidbit updates:

There was actually an avalanche today along steep slopes in Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania, of all places. Route 92 in the area is closed down.

By the way, there's an avalanche watch in New Hampshire's White Mountains, which will almost surely be upgraded to a warning. Heavy snow and strong winds will create unstable snow accumulations that can turn into avalanches.

Accumulations in New York City's Central Park are so far just 7.2 inches, since the rain/snow line went further west this morning than yesterday's forecasts indicated.

But go just a little inland, and this storm is overproducing, for sure. As of 2:30 p.m., there were  numerous reports of 20 to 24 inches of snow in northeastern Pennsylvania and in New York just north of the Pennsylvania border and near Binghamton.

There were also numerous reports of 10-20 inches of snow in New York's Hudson Valley from Westchester County to the Albany Capitol District, and the storm isn't done there yet, either. There were also many reports of 10 to 15 inches of snow in Connecticut and western Massachusetts.

Along the coast, by mid afternoon, many stations reported gusts between 50 and 60 mph.

All these reports will get bigger by the time we're done, for sure.


The heavy snow band that's been moving north and will be responsible for the bulk of our blizzard has gotten into southern Vermont, southern New Hampshire and the Capitol District of New York.

Pittston, Pennsylvania this
morning. It will look like that
in Vermont soon enough 
It's moving steadily north, and, as expected, will envelop the rest of the North Country in the next few hours.

As is typical ahead of a nor'easter heavy snow band, there's a narrower band of relatively light snow that is moving north through northern Vermont.

 It went down to light snow in the past couple of hours in Burlington and St. Albans, Vermont, but it was picking back up as of 1 p.m.

In both Burlington and St. Albans, the intensity of the snowfall when from light to moderate between noon and 1 p.m. It'll get heavy soon.

Winds are starting to pick up, too. During the heaviest snow, I wonder if the wind will be super strong. I've seen cases where heavy snow somewhat squelches the strongest winds. It might wait until evening to really pick up.

Then again, the nor'easter is really getting stronger and more intense really fast, which means its wind field is intensifying and expanding as well.

As of 1 p.m., places like Boston and Worcester, Massachusetts were reporting very heavy snow with gusts to around 40 mph or a little more.

Because the storm is just starting in Vermont, snowfall totals as of 1 p.m. are less than impressive. The most I've seen so far are six inches in Ludlow and 4 inches in Pittsford. These reports will increase super fast this afternoon.

The forecast for the rest of the day and the evening is totally on track. Look for storm totals of betwee 18 and 28 inches in most of Vermont. I'd say all but three to five inches of that will come down in most places by midnight.

There might be some storm totals of three feet in some of the high elevations of southern Vermont, and along some spots along the spine of the Green Mountains.


The snow here in Vermont continues to pick up in intensity and the winds are starting to become a factor, too.

Poor visibility and even worse road conditions along Route 103
in Mount Holly, Vermont in this 10 a.m. webcam image. 
Most of the state is now receiving moderate to heavy snow, but you ain't seen nothin' yet.

Not bad yet, but you feel the north wind blow if you're outside. The real uptick in the winds will come later this afternoon and tonight.

The heart of the blizzard will move in for the afternoon, so stay off those roads!

The latest National Weather Service updates call for snowfall rates of two inches per hour, mainly between roughly 1 p.. today and 10 p.m. tonight. Earliest south, latest north and northeast.

Snowfall accumulations in Vermont are still expected to range between 18 and 26 inches. VERY impressive.

Random thoughts:

As of 11 a.m., several towns in northeastern Pennsylvania were up to 18 or 19 inches of new snow.  At 11 a.m., Newburgh in lower Hudson Valley New York was in full blizzard mode with gusts to 58 mph. Yikes!

Parts of southeastern New Jersey experienced a few inches of snow earlier today, and now heavy rain is causing flooding there.

Loved the traffic cam image I saw on Twitter of a Hartford, Connecticut highway. Visibility was so poor it was basically just a blank gray screen.

The State of  Vermont told most state employees to go home by noon because of the blizzard. Smart move. The University of Vermont told its employees the exact same thing. Oh, and the town of Middlebury, Vermont has extended its property tax payment deadline to Thursday.

It was nice to see Weather Channel meteorologist and winter storm chaser Jim Cantore on MSNBC noting Burlington, Vermont is under its first blizzard warning in ten years.

This is weird: As of 10:45 a.m. there had been several lightning strikes in Manhattan, New York City. Notbing anywhere else so far in terms of thunderstorms with this nor'easter.

Satellite shot of the intensitying nor;easter around 9 a.m. tday.

Random notes: Thundersleet reported near New York City. (Heavy sleet and thunder)
Also, 21 inches of new snow in 8 hours, Binghamton, New York and still snowing.  19 inches in Windham, Pennsylvania.

Winds are picking up along coastal locations. Reports of 50 mph plus along the New Jersey coast. This will increase further, spread inland as the storm intensifies.

Burlington, Vermont as of 10 a.m. was already down to a quarter mile visibility, earlier than many of us thought. The intensity of the snow will vary this morning, and really pick up this afternoon in Vermont.

Road conditions are deteriorating rapidly across all of Vermont and the rest of New England now.

Looks like a cloud to ground lightning strike in Manhattan a little while ago amid sleet, based on this Tweet:

 er freeze. This will kill many of those nascent cherry tree blooms. As Donald Trump would say. Sad!


Let's not forget the effects of this storm on the Southeastern United States.

It's pulling down lots of cold air from the north into an area that had an abnormally warm late winter. Trees and plants and crops are blooming, and now they're screwed.

Freeze warnings extend over a huge area from the Tenneseee Valley through the Southeast. I'm still hearing fears that 90 percent of the peach crop is about to be lost because of the cold.  Pecans are screwed too.

In Washington DC, the annual cherry tree bloom, which had been expected to be record early, about a week from now, could easily be lackluster.

They've already had a deep freeze, now snow, and then, the next couple of nights, a deeper freeze. This will kill many of those nascent cherry tree blooms. As Donald Trump would say. Sad!


As expected with any type of giant nor'easter, there were some overnight changes.

Here's something you don't see every day. Areas shaded
in red, including the Champlain Valley, are under a
blizzard warning today. 
In many cases, the weather is even worse than expected.

Here in Vermont, the winter storm warning has been upgraded to a full-fledged blizzard warning for the western half of the state. This is the first time any part of Vermont has been under a blizzard warning since the epic storm of Valentine's Day, 2007.

The latest forecast track of the storm has nudged a little bit westward, even beyond forecasts that were issued 24 hours ago.

This puts Vermont in the sweet spot for some very heavy snow today. Also, the storm's expected track will help channel strong northerly winds down the Champlain Valley today, which prompted the National Weather Service in South Burlington to issue that blizzard warning. 

The rest of Vermont is "merely" under a winter storm warning, but the difference between that and the blizzard warning is basically semantics. In eastern Vermont, the storm might not qualify as an official blizzard (meaning at least three consecutive hours of visibility at or below one quarter of a  mile with frequent wind gusts of 35 mph or more.)

However, the effects will be nearly the same in eastern Vermont as in the Champlain Valley: Very heavy snow today with gusty winds, poor visibility and blowing snow.

The snow was spreading northward across Vermont as of 8 a.m. It might not come down all that hard for the first couple of hours, but then - WHAM!

In just a short period from early this afternoon through evening, much of Vermont will easily get a foot of snow. Or more in some spots. In the blizzard warning zones, winds will gust to 45 mph. Whiteouts are likely.

In the winter storm warning zone of eastern Vermont winds will "only" gust to 35 mph at times. Still, expect whiteouts there.

Travel is TOTALLY not recommended in Vermont this afternoon and evening, or pretty much anywhere else in much of the New England and New York for that matter.  Best just to hunker down inside until the worst is over.

Smart bosses should have already told you to stay home, or at least leave work very early. If you're still home, call in sick. If you're already at work now's the time -this morning -- to suddenly get that "24 hour bug" and get home,  pronto.

Snow totals with the storm are going to be epic in Vermont. Some places in the Champlain Valley near the lake might "only" get 12 to 15 inches of snow, but most of the state can expect 18 to 26 inches.

Though most of the snow will fall between 10 a.m. and midnight today, lighter snow will continue all night an through the day Wednesday to help us reach that deep snow total. It's not out of the question that some higher elevations could end up with 30 inches of snow.

It's not out of the question that Burlington, Vermont could receive 20 inches (or possibly even more) of snow out of this storm.

For comparison's sake, the biggest March snowstorm on record for Burlington was 25.8 inches on March 6-7, 2011. The biggest overall snowstorm on record was 33.1 inches on January 2-3, 2010.

The Valentine's Day blizzard of 2007 dumped 25.7 inches of snow on Burlington.

I'm going to post this now but keep checking back on this post. First I'm going to update what's going on elsewhere in the Northeast, and will live blog this post as we go through the day.


Blizzard warnings are also up for New York's St. Lawrence Valley, the Hudson Valley of New York, much of the New York City metro area, northeastern Pennsylvania, parts of New Jersey and big swaths of southern and eastern New England.

The rain snow line had pushed inland to just west of New York City this morning but was showing signs of moving back eastward as I write this, which would put New York back in the snow zone.

Also, coastal flood warnings extend along most of the coast from Delaware north today. Up in Long Island and New England, the best chances of flooding come with this afternoon's high tide. Coastal flooding is less likely with high tide late tonight and tomorrow morning as winds will have shifted to the northwest and air pressures will have started rising.

Areas of Long Island and southern New Jersey are getting enough heavy rain to prompt flood alerts. It's a mess, because they got a burst of heavy snow to clog storm drains, then the heavy rain, then it's going to change back to snow.

With less snow in the media center of New York City than expected yesterday, I fear the media will call this storm another bust, and blame meteorologists for "always getting it wrong.

So far, this storm is NOT a bust. Forecasters have been clear from the start the coastal rain/snow line could set up either west or east of pinpoints. And the expected two feet of snow in many areas is still looking like it will come to fruition.

So far,  as of 8:30 a.m., I give the National Weather Service and most other forecasters an A- grade in forecasting this storm.

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