Plenty on our plate the rest of the week....(1-29-13)
It looks like a very busy end to the month of January with plenty on central New York’s weather plate. This is a summary of what we will be watching over the next 3 days.Here comes the warmth! A storm system cranking up over the middle of the country has already brought record warmth to the middle of the country. I believe it was Tulsa that set an all-time January record high temperature Monday afternoon. As of late morning Tuesday it was already 60 in Chicago and nearly 70 in St. Louis. That warmth is currently the fuel for a severe weather outbreak in the Plains and eventually lower Mississippi Valley. If you are checking this blog out on Tuesday evening, make sure you go to the Storm Prediction Center web site with the latest on the outbreak.
We’re fairly confident that it is going to be very warm here in central New York Wednesday, likely breaking the record high of 54 set back in 2006. It is actually one of the lower record highs of all the surrounding days on the calendar. In the weather office this is what we call “a record waiting to be broken.” Now it is a matter of just how warm we do get. Although we are forecasting mid to upper 50s, we certainly can’t rule out 60 degree weather given the air mass upstream. Our computer guidance is offering a wide array of temperatures for tomorrow. Some of our in house models say that mid 60s are possible while some other higher resolution models say it will be tough to get past 50 degrees. We are taking the middle ground at this point.Gone with the wind. The storm that is developing in the middle of the country is going to help to create some very strong winds in the lower atmosphere. We’ve been watching what the computer models are saying and the NAM, in particular, is forecasting hurricane force winds just a few thousand feet above the ground. Luckily, this time of year we are under what is called an ‘inversion’ where temperatures in the lower atmosphere increase with height. This is the opposite of how the lower atmosphere normally works and can keep strong winds aloft from making it down to the ground. That being said, I wouldn’t be surprised if the hilltops across central New York Wednesday see winds gusting past 50 mph since any higher elevation above 1500 feet is going to be closer to the core of strong winds aloft.
For the rest of us (in lower elevations), there are two periods we have to watch out for with the potential for strong winds. First, there is Wednesday evening. A cold front will come through with heavier rain and even some thunder. This type of ‘convective’ precipitation has a way of breaking through the inversion and mixing the strong winds down.Second, once the cold front comes through and we start to cool we have another chance to break through the inversion. Winds aloft won’t be as strong at this time (later Wednesday night/Thursday) compared to the daylight Wednesday but we could see plenty of winds gusting to 50 mph or greater. Wind advisories are up for the counties bordering Lake Ontario Wednesday evening through Thursday morning. It would not be a stretch to see the advisories extended through other parts of central New York.A hard rain is going to fall... The models are keying in on a period of steadier rain late Wednesday afternoon and evening and central New York could be right on the edge of some very heavy rain. Some of the models have even suggested rainfall totals approaching 2 inches close to and southeast of Syracuse. Given the frozen ground, this rain would run off and could cause a flooding concern. The only flood watches out close to us are for Otsego and Delaware counties.
And don’t forget the lake effect. Oh, by the way, colder air will rush in behind the cold front which opens the door back up for lake effect. The models have been very consistent the last few days in saying the winds throughout Thursday will be strong and generally out of the west. that puts areas east of Lake Ontario and, in particular, the Tug Hill at greatest risk for heavy snow. A lake effect snow watch was just issued for parts of Oswego, Lewis, and Jefferson counties as there continues to be good agreement from the computer models. The potential is there for a foot or more of snow from Thursday into Thursday night. Techinically, the watch is up through Saturday morniong. By the way, in spite of the cold weather, Lake Ontario’s temperature is still running above normal.
What about lake effect snow for us here in Syracuse? The same computer models that plaster areas east of the lake Thursday also turn the winds in the lower atmosphere into the northwest later Thursday night bringing the lake snows into the Syracuse area for the morning commute. At this point, that may be a little fast. If anything, so far this winter the models have been too quick to move squalls south into the Syracuse area. This far out in time let's just say the snow should more into Syracuse during the morning and then fine tune it as we get closer to Friday. There will be a lot going on in terms of record warmth, wind and rain in the short term but lets not lose sight of lake effect potential for Friday.So, as you can see, there is plenty to deal with between now and the end of the week. While this may not be enough detail for you, it should give you a rough idea of what to expect over the next three days and what to watch out for. Make sure you check back in with us over the next couple of days as the details sort themselves out.
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