Going Over The Winter Cliff...(12-17-12)
We’ve talked quite a bit over the last month about the slow start to the winter season in central New York. Here we are on December 17th and we have yet to record an inch of snow in one day in Syracuse, the second longest streak to start the winter in Syracuse history. The latest that has happened is December 22nd 1998 but we may end up just short of that record.There will be some rain tonight and tomorrow but the system will be watching carefully is the one coming out of the Plains starting Wednesday. Like so many systems over the past few weeks, this low will initially track to our west and that will keep us on the warm side through Thursday. However, once the low heads up the St. Lawrence Valley boy will our weather change. We expect much colder weather along with plenty of wind. Here is a map from the GFS model that looks at the level of the atmosphere around 5,000 feet.
There is a lot to look at on this map but one of the keys is the tight packing of the solid black lines over New York and Pennsylvania. This is usually a sign of the atmosphere loading up with strong winds and that will be the case for us Friday night into Saturday.The other part of the equation is Lake Ontario’s temperature. Earlier this Fall I told you not to get too worked up over lake temperature because things can change. In fact, for a while during October our lake temperature had dropped to the long term normal. All that warmth over the summer seemed to disappear. Now take a peek at what we have now:
Our air temperature is averaging about 8 F above normal so far for December and that has caused our lake temperature to reach almost 3 F warmer than normal. This is the warmest the lake has been at this point in December in at least 6 years. Now that we finally have some cold air coming in, we can worry about the lake and it’s impact on lake effect. So we have the colder air moving over the warmer than normal lake later this week. Another plus for lake effect snow will be the moist lower atmosphere that will be in place thanks to our departing storm. So things are coming together for an accumulating snow to start the weekend but we will have key in on the exact wind directions before we begin to talk about accumulations. That being said, it does look like our odds for a White Christmas are increasing by the day.
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