Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Vermont, New York, N.H. Snowstorm Prospects Looking More Impressive

It looks like that snowstorm that's coming towards New England is going to be a little more impressive than first thought.
A Wednesday afternoon snow forecast update from
the National Weather Service in South Burlington.
As always, click on the image to make it bigger
and easier to read.  

At midafternoon, the National Weather Service in South Burlington upgraded a winter storm watch to a warning in the Champlain Valley and northeastern New York.

Meanwhile, the expected amount of snow in the rest of Vermont, already under a winter storm warning, have gone up a little bit.

During today, I had a feeling this might happen. As I've been watching the storm develop in the Southeast, where they are getting an epic ice storm, the storm system itself seemed a little stronger and a tiny bit more to the west than I thought.

There's also quite a few thunderstorms on the storm's southern flank, which indicates to me a stronger system.

When a nor'easter is a little stronger than expected, more often than not it takes a path up the coast a tad more to the west than it would have  had it been weaker.

The upshot is the stronger  nor'easter with a path a bit more to the west than expected puts Vermont, western New Hampshire and parts of eastern New York in the sweet spot for the heaviest snow.

The National Weather Service in South Burlington is saying that pretty much all of Vermont can expect anywhere from 6 to 16 inches of snow.  Eastern New York, northern New Hampshire and western Maine look like they'll get similar amounts.

At this point, it looks like the Green Mountain ridgeline might be under the gun for the most snow.

Yes, I can hear the skiers and riders screaming with glee right now, and yes, I can hear the ski area owners and operators cheering just as loudly, as this storm is timed just ahead of the all important Presidents Week holiday.

Precisely who gets the most snow could be tricky, though. Unlike the storm last Wednesday, the amount of snow that falls in and around Vermont won't be that uniform. A stronger nor'easter like this often has a fairly narrow band of particularly heavy snow around it's northwestern flank.

Where that band sets up, and chances are it will be in or near Vermont, will determine who gets the most snow. My guess is the heavier snow band toward the end of the storm might be in western or central Vermont, but that's really just a guess at this point.

The upshot is some towns might get something close to 15 inches of snow, while other nearby towns, outside the band and/or near a mountain that could block moisture, would get as little as maybe six inches.

In this afternoon's forecast discussion, the meteorologists at the National Weather Service in South Burlington say that the expected storm track is very favorable for a heavy snowfall in most of Vermont.

The snow will work its way south to north across Vermont and New Hampshire during the day Thursday. So plan on a snowy, slow commute home from work Thursday afternoon. Or just leave work early, the hell with it.

With the storm being a little stronger than I might have thought earlier, it's probably going to be a bit on the windy side, especially near the tail end of the storm Friday morning.  That means there will be plenty of blowing and drifting snow to add to travel hazards.

Friday morning's commute, according to the National Weather Service in South Burlington, might be among the worst this winter in Vermont and surrounding spots. It'll still be snowing fairly hard, and the wind will have picked up by then. There will be plenty of snow to blow out onto highways, cutting visibility to nothing and creating fast-forming drifts.

So don't get crazy out there, motorists. I'm talking to you, Speedy Gonzalez in your fancy SUV.

The snow is going to be on the powdery side, so it will blow and drift easily. On the bright side, the powdery snow won't stick much to trees and power lines, so we won't have a big problem with falling branches and power failures in northern New England.

One caveat: The South Burlington National Weather Service office is watching for any more westward adjustments in the storm's track. If that happens, mixed precipitation could creep into southeastern Vermont. I'd say that could easily happen in southern New Hampshire, too.

The snow will dwindle off during the day Friday. It'll stay relatively warm -- in the 20s through Saturday-- so that's good.

A smaller storm might drop a little more snow on Vermont Saturday, and then we get a quick shot of cold air in the North Country Sunday and part of Monday.

Thursday and Friday's storm might push Burlington, Vermont into the above normal category for this winter's snowfall, at least for a little while.

Snowfall so far this winter has been lagging behind normal. As of Monday, seasonal snowfall was at 4.6 inches below normal. Not that far on the light side, as we've been catching up this month.

By Friday, if the forecast is accurate, Burlington's seasonal snowfall might be above normal for the first time this winter.

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