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Friday, November 28

About That Lake Effect Event...

Written by: Stacey Pensgen

Outside of just being quite cold with a few chunks of snowfall here and there, our weather has been quite benign, especially when you compare it to areas about 30 minutes away. So, let's revisit that epic lake effect event last week. And yes, it was epic! In case you missed it, the National Weather Service in Buffalo published their synopsis of the event: http://www.weather.gov/buf/lake1415_stormb.html

While it was one of the most memorable lake effect events in Buffalo's history, according to the weather service, a similar has happened before! - back in 1945.

What can we learn from this event? I can't speak for other meteorologists, you must consider every scenario, especially when it comes to lake effect! I remember using our RPM Futurecast future snowfall graphic on Monday, and not believing the 59" that was forecast to fall just south of Buffalo by noon Wednesday. I thought, "man, someone is definitely going to get A LOT of snow, but almost 5 FEET?!" Yup, that came very close to verifying. Consider every scenario! Also, lake effect is such a microscale weather phenomenon, that it is always evolving, and so too, are the forecasts. Governor Cuomo ripped the NWS for being "off" on their forecasts. Was it forecast absolutely perfectly? No. Was it close, and a pretty darned good forecast? Heck yeah! Again, given the rarity of the event, and the amounts that ended up falling, I think the weather service did a great job from start to finish. And yes, they did have to change their snowfall numbers, but again, that is the result of an evolving forecast. In a perfect world, a meteorologist would put a forecast out 7 days in advance, and it would be perfect, and no changes would need to be made. No meteorologist wants to have to change his/her forecast, but that's also what makes a meteorologist good - being able to see what is happening, whether it's 2 days, or 2 hours in advance, and make the necessary changes.

Ok, rant/synopsis over!

PS - This blog is my own, and may not reflect the views or opinions of other News 8 meteorologists (although I'm thinking Matt and Scott are probably on the same page). Have a wonderful holiday weekend, and here's to plenty of lake effect snow in our future!

43 comments:

  1. It really has been benign outside of very local lake effect. There have been no storms to affect us and it looks like that will continue for the next several weeks unfortunately.

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    1. There are storms and cold shots showing up in the long range...
      And the ensembles have been slicing away at the duration/amplitude of the warm pattern for the past few days...

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    2. Chris now in PenfieldNovember 29, 2014 at 5:54 PM

      I have noticed that. I expected a pronounced warm up…well, relatively speaking, 40s maybe low 50s occasionally…based on long range forecasts for weeks, but the 7 day forecasts keep ticking downward on the temps. The first to be on the downward trend, at least that I noticed, were the Syracuse meteorologists that I watch at camp. They have been backing off the warm up for days. I thought it was just SYR that wasn't going to see the warm up as pronounced as we had it (not unusual, especially with a SW wind and downsloping through the Genesee Valley).

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    3. And now we're left with near normal temps for the upcoming week. Only one day significantly above normal, and even one day significantly below. Recall last season when all of the long range "pattern flips" were muted time and time again...I think that's going to be the theme for much of this winter too.

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  2. Reading that summary confirmed a thought that I had towards the tail end of the event: this is pretty much the pinnacle of what Lake Erie can produce in the snow department. Extreme instability, almost no shear, very cold all the way through the column and basically no variation in wind direction throughout the event save for one brief moment early on. Every parameter was perfect or near perfect, definitely a once per generation scenario.

    Unrelated: if you're going to base your expectations for December around the CFS then you're going to have a bad time.

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  3. KW tweet:

    "Have told major NE client to expect back & forth thru 1st week of Dec., but seeds are being planted for more sustained cold/snow thereafter."

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  4. Looking at the latest model runs is there concern of a possible freezing rain event for Rochester next Tuesday/

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  5. I see nothing that shows a freezing rain storm.

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  6. There is really nothing of significance on the models as far as winter weather. It is really quiet across the country for the next 10-14 days.

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    1. Then explain this:
      http://www.tropicaltidbits.com/analysis/models/ecmwf/2014112912/ecmwf_mslp_uv850_neus_9.png

      It's only one model, but it's something. The upcoming week won't be very exciting but it's a major stretch to say the same for the following week as well, mostly because relying on the models beyond 7 days is essentially a futile exercise. Actually, relying on them for anything other than a general picture and a few laughs is rather ill-advised, especially this winter it seems.

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  7. I am now very interested in the December 20th time frame. BSR plus analysis by Larry Cosgrove hints at a deep Eastern system around that time. Maybe a coastal transfer sort of scenario. Here's the relevant Cosgrove bit:

    "Over the past few months I have been calling attention to "typhoon injection syndrome", where a particularly large tropical cyclone in the western Pacific Ocean joins with a linkage between convective groups associated with the Madden-Julian Oscillation and the polar westerlies, culminating in the enhancement of an mAk vortex below the Aleutian Islands. Such a huge, cold gyre would then pump up ridging in the -EPO, +PNA, and -AO positions. The furthest chain-reaction result, of course, would be a plunge of bitter cold temperatures into the lower 48 states to the right of the Continental Divide.

    It is entirely possible that this could be a transient cAk intrusion. You will notice how warm the West and much of the Grain Belt is in the December analog profile. But around mid-month, the southern branch jet stream will activate, shooting a potent storm along the Gulf Coast and Eastern Seaboard. So I am confident that at some point between December 15 and 22, interaction between high-latitude ridging and a deep Dixie/East Coast storm will send the brutal reality of winter cold as far south as Mexico and Cuba."

    With all of this in mind, take great care to temper thine expectations o beautiful blog dwellers.

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    Replies
    1. December 20th is a long way off. I hope we have some winter before that.

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    2. Chris now in PenfieldNovember 30, 2014 at 9:10 AM

      MJO + PBR = BSR

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  8. Stacey. Let the rest of us say what you're professionalism is preventing you from saying. Cuomo's ripping of the NWS is one of the dumbest most self serving statements I've ever heard.

    The NWS warnings were perfectly clear and well in advance calling for feet of snow and in no uncertain terms telling people to stay out of the area or they would be trapped.

    I think I am not alone when I say that Cuomo's visit rubbed me the wrong way. Like he was wanted everyone to think he was some hero. He cared more about that image than the people doing the warning and the saving.

    Cuomo should leave weather forecasting and forecast judging to those who actually know what they're talking about.

    Telling the news they'd at least checked on everyone on the thruway as phonecalls from trapped motorists came in was disingenuine and self serving as well.

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    1. Chris now in PenfieldNovember 30, 2014 at 5:54 PM

      To those of us who follow NYS politics, this did not come as a surprise.

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    2. LOL well said!
      Andy

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  9. RC tweet Boring weather ahead...No big storms in sight this is going to be a meek winter.

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  10. Hey anon 1044! RC did say, "boring weather ahead... No big storms in sight"
    As for it being a "meek winter" those are your words, so why don't you sign your PREDICTION and define MEEK?

    I say it's too early to tell. I will predict the winter in mid/late December, and I've been within less than 10" the last two winters.

    Andy

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  11. Remember when I posted about people coming here trying to play the Winter Cancel card? Welp...

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  12. December in El Nino is usually pretty dodgy. Recall 2009 when December was largely mild, then the hammer dropped right around New Years. Most winter forecasts painted a similar progression of events this time around, and I even took a stab at a slower start to the season awhile back. RC neglected to mention what his colleagues have been harping on for days, and that relates to a colder turn towards the second half of the month. The high latitude stratosphere continues to warm while the MJO continues to blaze past the unfavorable phases, so that call still looks good. In the meantime we have a tame zonal flow to deal with, which means that any snow we get will have to happen with smaller disturbances. A transient cold shot may occur by the 10th or so, but that won't be our longer lasting cold pattern. It'll be like pulling teeth to get there, which it usually is during early winter in El Nino, but we will get there. Judah Cohen believes that everything is going according to plan so far, and I see no reason to disagree.

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    1. I have looked at reams and reams of data/history and forecasts predictions on this winter. My forecast is above average temperatures and below average snowfall for this winter. Temps will end up a few degrees above average and our yearly snowfall will be between 80-90 inches. I believe everything points to this with February being the toughest month.

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    2. You must be looking at vastly different reams than the great majority of pro forecasters, who are all harping on cold and potentially snowy.

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    3. Time will tell the great CCCC.

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  13. All you have to do is look at some analog years.. Bastardi is going hard on the 77 analog ( he does every year it seems but who cares? ).. that started off slow and really cranked up. First half of December being mildish and boring isn't a shock to anyone who has been paying attention.

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    Replies
    1. And it shouldn't send anyone careening into Winter Cancel Mode either...East Asia is locked into a bitter arctic chill right now and will be for awhile longer, which portends a similar fate for the eastern US by mid month. Right in line with the other indicators I mentioned before. The Typhoon Rule should begin to reflect this if/when the developing tropical invest in the western Pacific starts to recurve. The Euro model suite doesn't want to recurve it for whatever reason, which doesn't make sense given the East Asian troughing, so needless to say I'm not buying it in the slightest. It also stands alone in sending the MJO into the circle of death (i.e. suppressed impacts for us) while the other suites cycle it around to colder phases. On the other hand the Euro weekly is beginning to reflect a somewhat colder look by the second half of the month. The lack of any organized jet stream is probably screwing with the models in a major way, so I wouldn't trust any of them for any help with the long range right now.

      So in summary for anyone who might still be in panic mode over the upcoming calm spell: patience.

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  14. All the cold air is locked in Canada and will be for at least the next 2 weeks. Ok as long as it changes by the second half of December.

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    Replies
    1. Luckily it isn't lurking too far away. Yields a small amount of space for sneaky little snowfalls.

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  15. Pacific jet may really start to crank in about a week's time. Couple that with all of the indicators of more sustained cold in the long range + BSR = a little more fuel for my vaguely piqued interest regarding later this month. Remember: harness thine expectations lest they grow unruly and destructive.

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  16. CCCC when you say later this month we will get a lot colder it that the 3rd week or closer to January?

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    Replies
    1. Mid month, and I never said "a lot" colder, just colder.

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  17. I think we really we need to temper expectations for "cold air" as in well BELOW AVERAGE to come in too soon. Here's why--- we just had a pretty good bout of a cold in November. November ended near 6 degrees below normal, and more in the latter half. Mother nature likes to even things out over time, so it doesn't surprise me that the below average air is locked up north right now. Also, keep in mind that the average high temp for 12/1 is 41.5 and low is 28.2 and reduces by about 0.3 degrees per day, so the NORMAL air temps aren't all that conducive to good snow in early December any way.

    Also as others have pointed out, how many times have we had a cold early December with snow and a white Christmas seeming to be a SURE THING, only to have it warm up and rain days before Christmas and wipe out the snow? It seems to happen a lot.

    I say hold on to the cold until mid month and release it when it counts.

    Andy

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    1. Also let me add that while we finished Nov slightly above average snowfall at KROC, my data says that Nov snowfall is not a good predictor for the outcome of winter either way.
      Andy

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  18. I agree with Andy. I would rather have it warm and boring in early December and snow and cold later in the month for a white Christmas. I just wish we could get a few sunny days though. This cloudiness is getting to me.

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    1. Agreed. Though I've always felt the cloudiness this time of year blocks the low sun that is annoying as a driver. Went to Denver in In early January once. The sunshine was striking, but it really felt like it was in your eyes all the time.

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    2. Chris now in PenfieldDecember 2, 2014 at 8:14 PM

      SSG - I agree. Was in Denver in January 2011, and it is sunny almost all the time (300 days per year, I believe). Walked down some city streets on a 5 degree morning, and it did not even feel that cold. People were walking with jackets open! Yes, the dryness and lack of density of the air makes a huge difference.

      Delete
  19. Pretty entertaining going around various forums and seeing all of the weenies ready to slit their wrists, all because December is starting off exactly how they were warned it would.

    This was contained in a WPC discussion from earlier today:

    "A SECOND FEATURE OF THE PACIFIC---IS THE EARLY EMERGENCE OF THE SUBTROPICAL JET...AND ACTIVE OVER NORTHERN MEXICO SO EARLY IN THE LOW-SUN HALF OF THE YEAR. THIS IS USUALLY MORE A LATE JANUARY THROUGH FEBRUARY OBSERVANCE. AND WITH THE DETERMINISTIC GUIDANCE SUGGESTING NOTABLE INCREASES IN THE PACIFIC BRANCH OF A JET NEAR 25N...IN CLOSE PROXIMITY TO HAWAI'I NORTHEASTWARD INTO NORTHERN MEXICO BY THE END OF DAY 7...AM THINKING THIS MEDIUM RANGE FORECAST PERIOD IS TRYING TO TELL US SOMETHING---AND PERHAPS THE PATTERN IS CHANGING IN EARNEST...WITH THE DOWNSTREAM EJECTION OF THE CLOSED LOW OFF THE CALIFORNIA COAST SETTING THINGS INTO MOTION."

    ♫ Because you know I'm all about dat jet...'bout dat jet... ♫

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  20. Cutoff city possible early next week. An island of potential entertainment in a sea of flaccidity.

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    Replies
    1. Chris now in PenfieldDecember 2, 2014 at 8:16 PM

      Ever been to Lake Flaccid?

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  21. Eyes should be kept towards early next week that is all I am going to say.

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