Jan 22, 2014: Very Cold Week Ahead

Forecast Highlights:

temp14A major snowstorm affected the area yesterday, with as much as 10-14 inches of snow, temperatures in the single digits and 10s, and strong winds leading to near blizzard conditions for some. The storm has since moved out of the area, but only marks the beginning of a week-long significant cold pattern with temperatures likely to remain below freezing at least for the next 7 days, if not beyond (Image credit: PSU e-Wall, 4k NAM highs for today).


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Tuesday, January 21 Observations:

1.21.14The most significant snowstorm since February 2013 affected the area on Tuesday, with a narrow band of heavy snow near NYC, NE NJ, coastal CT and Long Island. More information on the evolution of the storm can be found in the section below this one. Temperatures peaked early in the day in the mid-upper 20s inland and the low 30s elsewhere, steadily dropping into the mid-upper 10s by the mid afternoon hours and the upper 0s-mid 10s by midnight.

The highest temperature was 33 degrees in multiple locations, and the coolest high temperature was 23 degrees in Sussex, NJ.



Brief Storm Recap

1.22.14_0015The third major snowstorm of the winter affected the area yesterday, producing the most significant totals since the February 2013 blizzard. Most of the snow from the system was associated with a band of heavy snow that set up in central NJ in the morning before shifting into NYC, NE NJ, SW CT and parts of Long Island by 2pm through 8pm. Temperatures steadily fell through the 10s along with increasing northerly winds leading to near zero wind chills, with high snow rates near or over 2″/hour under the heavy snow band especially with the aid of high snow to liquid ratios near 15:1 to 20:1. Snow gradually ended west of NYC by 10pm-1am, while NYC and locations further east continued to see occasional light snow through early this morning associated with the strengthening low pressure near North Carolina, which developed further south than expected and as such kept the precipitation shield of the second round further east than forecast.

Snow totals ranged from 3-5″ in interior central CT to 6-11″ in coastal CT; 2-4″ in NW NJ/interior SE NY; 9-13″ in northeast NJ and Westchester county; 7-13″ in NYC; and 9-14″ in Long Island. The highest report so far is 14.5″ in North Babylon and Selden, NY (Suffolk).


Today – Friday: Significant Cold Continues

Over the last 1-2 weeks, temperatures have generally been warmer than average with a temporary pattern relaxation, but have since cooled down as a strong upper level low in Canada shifted closer to the US/Canada border, dragging a widespread cold air mass with 850mb temperatures near -20C into the region. Originally, the cold was forecast to enter with little to no precipitation, but as will be noted in more details with the storm summary to be posted tonight or tomorrow, the model guidance only began to trend towards a major snowstorm just 2 days prior to the actual event, with a tight pressure gradient setting up last night as a result of the deepening low pressure allowing for strong northerly winds and for temperatures to fall into the single digits across most of the area, along with wind chills between -5 and -15 degrees.

These cold temperatures will continue through Friday, with most of the area forecast to remain below 20 degrees. Partly sunny skies are expected today with a breezy NW wind and highs reaching the low-mid 10s inland and mid-upper 10s elsewhere, with lows tonight falling into the 0 to -5 degree range in NW NJ, interior SE NY and CT; 0 to 5 degrees in the north/west suburbs of NYC, Long Island and southern CT, and 5-9 degrees near NYC and the immediate coast. A slight warm up is expected on Thursday with mostly cloudy skies, a risk of an isolated snow shower, lighter westerly winds and highs in the mid-upper 10s inland and upper 10s-low 20s elsewhere. As the trough axis moves through on Friday, lows on Thursday night will fall into the single digits again with Friday’s highs in the mid to upper 10s across the area.


Weekend – Next Week: Cold, Occasional Snow Continue

A brief warm up is expected on Saturday as a strong piece of the polar vortex over Canada drops southward through the Hudson Bay, with a developing low pressure near southern Ontario leading to a strong southwesterly flow across the region at 10-20 mph, which will quickly remove the cold air mass present over the region at that time. Despite the southwesterly flow, temperatures will remain below average, only peaking in the mid 20s-low 30s across the area, failing to surpass the freezing point for most locations. Along with the warm up will be occasional light snow, with the potential for light accumulations generally below 1/2 to possibly 1 inch.

Behind the cold front, the core of the cold air mass will settle just north of the US/Canada border; unlike the early January cold outbreak, the core of the cold will not spill into the US, but with the cold air mass coming through in waves. The first such cool down will be on Sunday, with highs in the low-mid 20s and a breezy west wind. Another strong shortwave is likely to move through overnight into Monday with a developing low pressure nearby likely to produce additional snow; the exact position is uncertain, however, with the GFS depicting moderate snow over the area and the ECM/CMC keeping most of the snow north of the area. At this time, I am siding closer to the latter set, although at least some snow is likely across the area, with the potential for light to moderate accumulations near or north of NYC. Another wave of cold temperatures is expected behind this low pressure, with lows likely in the single digits for most locations and below zero inland, and high temperatures on Tuesday likely returning into the 10s for most of the area. With the upper level low over southern Canada weakening and lifting northeast, the cold air mass will gradually moderate after Tuesday, with another snow potential towards mid-late next week along with the next chance for temperatures to surpass freezing by the very end of the month.

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