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Tuesday, January 13

COLD YES BUT WHERE'S THE SNOW?


Written By:  Scott Hetsko

January's been generally cold, so far we are more than 3 degrees below the average.  Other than the usual lake effect snow that follows cold fronts, there hasn't been much snow since early December.  The reason for that is shown above which represents our general upper level flow over the past few weeks.  A broad Eastern trough has been dominant over the Northeast which is great in supplying fresh cold air but awful for generation of any meaningful storms.  Alberta clippers will only get you so far.

February and March are statistically better for producing significant Nor'Easters but each season is different.  It has been my expectation that Rochester would exceed 100" this Winter.  So far only 35" has fallen through today so we'll need a couple of strong storms to reach that number.

89 comments:

  1. I just can't shake the feeling that February is going to be a total gangbusters kind of month with storms out the wazoo. Of course that isn't based on anything scientific and is probably just subconscious wishcasting more than anything.

    Looks like our January "thaw" has been reduced to one or two days near 40 in advance of another shot of colder air. Remember back when the Euro weekly said that next week would be a massive historic megatorch that would melt the permafrost in Nunavut? Neither do I.

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  2. It definitely has been a lack-luster winter as far as storms go. Just the 1 in December. I do not think we will hit 80" this year, in my opinion. The rest of tis week and Next week looks pretty dry with no storms and then that takes us to the last week in January. February will have to be well above normal in snowfall because March can go either way.

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    Replies
    1. This week for sure. Next week though? Not so sure. You've seen me post several times about a window for a storm next week, a storm which has now begun appearing in all of the major operational models as well as the ensembles.

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  3. Every month I hear this about the next month and it does not happen:

    From Channel 10:

    Many indicators pointing increasing to frigid & flaky end days of January, &
    a very wintry February.

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    Replies
    1. They always do that. Just wait 2 weeks, folks, and the pattern will change. Then 2 weeks goes by and no shift. Wait 2 weeks, folks...

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  4. Reminder that the parallel GFS officially becomes the new operational GFS at 12z tomorrow. Goodnight sweet prince, you will be sorely missed...

    http://i.imgur.com/DRUcyKG.gif

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  5. I remember KW tweeting that the final week in December would be snowy...well that call obviously didn't pan out very well. Thing is that his call this time actually has legs. I know I've said this ad nauseum, but teles STILL look more favorable for organized storms than they've been in recent weeks, with the odds of those systems being of the wintry variety increasing with time. Additionally the super tight 500 mb gradient that quite literally shredded all of our storm potentials looks to be absent this time, or at least greatly mitigated, thanks to a much weaker PV. Then there's the matter of the ensemble means, which depict consistently negative surface pressure anomalies to go along with lower heights after about the middle of next week. Those low height anomalies increase further out in time, which is a strong signal for increased troughiness and therefore colder than average temperatures. The means also indicate that the negative EPO ridge will return in earnest while the MJO cycles through favorable cold phases. And finally, the 8-14 day outlook from the CPC currently favors above average precipitation. It also favors near to slightly above average temperatures, but the discussion heavily implies that those would be weighted more towards the early part of that period, with a trough centered over the central states to follow. Put in plain English: the final week of January does indeed look pretty good for winter lovers, along with possibly the early part of February.

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  6. Temperature is quickly dropping at my house in Pittsford, -1 on my thermometer. Airport says +8. What are other people seeing? This kind of reminds mebof that one evening last year where it was supposed to be maybe 0? And it dropped down to -9 or so.

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  7. 3 degs and falling in Hamlin

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  8. 8 degrees in Greece

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  9. Chris now in PenfieldJanuary 13, 2015 at 8:36 PM

    Just hit 0 F in Penfield.

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    Replies
    1. Chris now in PenfieldJanuary 13, 2015 at 8:40 PM

      Currently -10 F at camp near Altmar, Oswego Co., for the record ;-)

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    2. Are you at camp? Remote thermometer? Talking to locals?

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    3. Chris now in PenfieldJanuary 14, 2015 at 6:16 AM

      Talking to a local.

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  10. -7 near the Country Club of Rochester. Love the sound of snow crunching over your boots as you walk out. If we want to exceed 100+ inches of snow this year, we will definitely need several SIGNIFICANT snow events (blizzards) to hit us during the month of February. Fingers crossed that we get something daily. 6+ inches each day would be okay for us snow lovers.

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  11. cccc , i remember calling you out christmas week on all your junk forecasting, you havent found a different hobby yet?

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  12. Sorry CCCC the models last night took everything OTS last next for next week. Once again we will be lucky to hit 75ninches this year.

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    Replies
    1. Predictions that are tantamount to guesses are worthless, especially by those whom don't identify themselves.

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    2. Then why don't you post your name!

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    3. Because I'm not making a prediction. Don't be so obtuse!

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    4. Daily reminder that the only predictions that matter are the ones from seasoned professionals.

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  13. Down to -7 this morning in Hamlin. I am getting excited about a couple more clippers next week and more LES it is going to be snowy in Hamlin keep your shovels handy.

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    Replies
    1. The clippers will be weak at best. Most energy going North. Dont see any lake effect potential for the Rochester area.

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  14. -9 was the official low at the airport last night, one degree shy of the daily record. I don't see much opportunity for lake effect next week, but I'm still keeping an eye on mid week and the pattern that follows.

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  15. Queue the people on here that will say "looking at the forecast in a week and a half we have a chance for a big one!!" Then a week later say the same thing after nothing happens...

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    Replies
    1. Actually about 11 days from now we do have a chance at "the big one".

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    2. Late next week is indeed starting to gain some intrigue. It goes beyond just looking at operational models too, the storm currently off Japan's east coast would teleconnect to a storm along our own east coast in about 10 days.

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    3. What are the models showing for next week?

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  16. CCCC I am seeing things a bit different than you at the moment. It looks to me that there are multiple opportunities for LES and Lake enhancement next week, starting as early as Sunday night. Sunday night into Monday morning could get pretty interesting along with most of next week which to me looks wintery and active at the moment.

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    1. The problem with Sunday night is that the models are still all over the place with the frontal system. It's also a frontal system, which means that whoever gets nailed by it will have to really thread the needle. It's such a low probability potential that I'm not even going to give it any serious thought, even regarding lake enhancement which looks meager at best even on the Euro. Otherwise the transient nature of the cold shot early next week doesn't really portend any notable lake effect IMO. It's probably a case of a frontal passage with snow showers followed by rapid drying, or perhaps a slow-moving clipper if the frontal system doesn't create a sheared environment. The better opportunities for fun start closer to the weekend.

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  17. If you want to enjoy our January thaw, don't blink because you might miss your chance on Saturday and early Sunday as temps break freezing only shortly. ECMWF puts us back into the freezer mid next week. This winter has its own ideas for forecasters.

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    1. Best part? It's not just the ECMWF. Second best part? It spits right in the face of old ideas that we were heading into an extended thaw period. There's something extra satisfying about watching torchy outlooks bust hard.

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    2. Chris now in PenfieldJanuary 14, 2015 at 9:58 PM

      This is at least the third torch event that has been busted this winter.

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    3. We were warned that the models would show fail torches all winter long ;o

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  18. I want to take a moment to clarify what I'm communicating when I say that a pattern "looks more favorable" for storminess, because I'd rather not have trolls and bittercasters leaping down my throat in the event that we emerge into the second week of February having struck out on storm chances. It's purely and simply a probabilistic outlook based on pattern analysis. I don't go to NCEP and loop the GFS animation a few times and try to pick out the fantasy storms, unlike what a few anons here seem to settle upon doing. Sometimes I'll say that the operationals are showing storminess in the long range, which again is more of a probabilistic outlook than anything. I've also mentioned that the ensemble means depict negative SLP anomalies hanging around. That indicates a higher PROBABILITY of storminess during those times. Notice a theme yet? Beyond 5 days or so it's all about the probability, the chance, the likelihood (or lack thereof) that significant weather will strike at some point in the future. I wish it was possible to create deterministic outlooks for storms beyond 5 days, but if that was the case then we wouldn't require degreed meteorologists to make predictions for us regular laymen. It would be sufficient to just loop the GFS and tell everyone to prepare for the triple-phased superstorm at hour 384, or to peruse the latest Euro run and inform your loved ones that they can put their shovels away for the next week and a half. I, along with others whose weather knowledge severely trumps my own, have determined that the pattern after the middle of next week looks better for wintry weather than it has all season so far, as in colder with better chances for organized storms. The "cold" component is very high probability, the "organized storms" component remains up in the air from region to region. Could we end up twiddling our thumbs while the coast gets obliterated? Definitely, but no one here cares about that possibility. Could we fall into some very bad luck and watch every storm potential flame out due to some as of yet unforeseeable factor? Absolutely, but no one here cares about that possibility. Could we get slammed twice in the same week and end up begging for the snow train to put on the brakes? You can bet your bottom dollar we might, but it's so inherently unlikely that no one here should care about that possibility. Or maybe a large chunk of the eastern states manages to cash in on some decent storms and it ends up being the type of active winter pattern that we've seen dozens of times before. The current consensus is that this is the most plausible scenario going forward, but that doesn't guarantee anything. No one worth their weight in excrement is guaranteeing a snowstorm out of the upcoming pattern, or that if we do get a storm it'll be ordinary, or that we'll flame out on every opportunity. It's all a game of probability, nothing more.

    The medium range out to early February still looks more favorable for winter storms, and there are preliminary signs that the eastern states may have one on their hands late next week. If you take that as a prediction that Rochester is getting a snowstorm, then you deserve every possible ounce of disappointment if your expectations aren't met.

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    1. And since this ended up being a wall of text that I'm sure some people won't want to read, here's a TL;DR version: the upcoming pattern looks better for storms than it has recently, but there are no guarantees that we'll get a storm, so don't get your hopes up too much.

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  19. hey cccc, you calling people "bro" only confirms what i know, your weird and a turd

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    1. Weird and a turd? That's your insult? Are you literally 9 years old? You're getting into the trolling business way too soon kiddo.

      I am pretty weird though thanks for noticing.

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    2. Chris now in PenfieldJanuary 14, 2015 at 10:05 PM

      Hmmm. A turd. Your keyboard must be dirty; forget the fact that I am sure that a turd can type. I am done, folks. Carry on.

      Delete
  20. Spotter reports for this morning's low temps:

    http://forecast.weather.gov/product.php?site=buf&product=PNS&issuedby=BUF&format=ci&version=1

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  21. Looks like there is something brewing for the Monday-Tuesday time frame but right now it looks to be an Eastern, NY New England storm.

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    1. Frontal wave, thread-the-needle type situation. Not worth our time unless we get very lucky, the stripe of snow it produces will be extremely narrow until it gets to a much higher latitude.

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  22. CCCC what is the potential for next week you are looking at and that Caledonia mentioned. Caledonia does not usually say things like that. Again I am not going to hold you to anything but if what you see does verify what would happen?

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    1. Basically the storm currently just off Japan's east coast could translate to a similar storm affecting the eastern US late next week. Operational models depict it but they're all over the place, anywhere from suppressed into the Gulf of Mexico to cutting up through lower Michigan. It would be irresponsible to get any more detailed than that, even to say that there will be any storm at all. Just know that the potential is there.

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    2. I don't normally say things like that because I don't know what I am talking about. I can read 4C's technical explaination of the model and I know exactly what he is saying..but I could never give that level of detail about what it is showing. I look at teleconnections and pick out time periods that might look good coming up. I also listen to a couple long range pros and if the chatter picks up I start paying attention.

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  23. The upcoming weather is going to be fun to follow regardless of what the pessimists think. I am just happy it doesn't appear we are going to get an extended thaw. I cant wait to see how this winter plays out after a rocky start.

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  24. Already down to 2 degrees at the airport. Another subzero night on tap? Survey says...maybe.

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  25. LONG TERM /SUNDAY THROUGH WEDNESDAY/...
    A RELATIVELY LOW AMPLITUDE SPLIT FLOW WILL BE FOUND ACROSS THE
    COUNTRY DURING THIS PERIOD. THIS WILL ALLOW SEVERAL SHORTWAVES TO
    PASS ACROSS THE GREAT LAKES REGION...BUT SINCE THESE FEATURES WILL
    BE BASED WITHIN THE NORTHERN BRANCH OF THE SPLIT FLOW...SIGNIFICANT
    IMPACTS/SNOW ACCUMULATIONS ARE NOT ANTICIPATED. IN TERMS OF
    TEMPERATURES...OUR REGION WILL START OFF FAIRLY MILD...BUT AS WE
    PROGRESS INTO THE NEW WORK WEEK MERCURY READINGS WILL FALL TO BELOW
    NORMAL LEVELS.

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  26. From KW:

    Liking idea of heavy snow threat Sun night-Mon eastern NY...latest GFS confirms. Awaiting other models...to see what risk exists for WNY/CNY

    We miss out again!!!!!

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    Replies
    1. Word..go hug the lake. Without it this is what EVERY winter would be like.

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    2. Anon 0537, You can't miss out on something that never was to be.

      Delete
  27. Any update on what the over night models showed for the possible system later next week? I think the Euro showed a pretty good storm that goes up through the App.mountains but I am not an expert at reading the models? Maybe CCCC will give us an update.

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  28. I'm still not a fan of Sunday night's frontal system. Last night's Euro was a far western outlier and I fully expect it to go east this afternoon. Even that solution left us with just light lake effect snow. Whoever does cash in should consider themselves extremely lucky given how narrow the snow swath will be, otherwise the great majority of the Northeast will be spectators to that one. I have no new thoughts on late next week, nothing crucial has changed since yesterday. Instead I give you a segment of Joe Lundberg's blog post from yesterday afternoon (before last night's Euro went ballistic):

    "This far away, I'll stick with the main idea that a storm is likely (not definite) in the Jan. 21-23 window, starting somewhere in the southern Plains and aiming for the Northeast. There will be cold air north and west of the track of the storm, and in those areas it is likely to snow, and it could be a rather heavy snow. There will probably be a lot of rain south and east of the storm track, and some severe thunderstorms could well be in the mix ahead of a cold front crossing the southern tier of states. The track of the storm is far from etched in stone, and much of it may well depend upon how what appears to be a southern branch feature interacts with any northern branch disturbance. Of late, these two separate branches have remained just that - separate. Should that change, particularly with this storm, there would be an increased potential for a strong storm. By the same token, if the branches remain separate, as the 0z European suggests, then there's essentially 'no' storm."

    I've mentioned this before, but Joe Lundberg is one of the better pros on Accuweather and does his absolute best to avoid hype. So I tend to perk up and listen whenever he keys in on something, even if he's just playing the probability game. And again, the Euro has entirely reversed course since that post was published yesterday, while the GGEM has shifted south. The operational models are going to play all sorts of tricks over the next several days, so it's best to not sweat the details until some more consistent agreement develops.

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    1. Yup, same thing as all season. Wait till next week. Then nothing happens. Wait till next week, then nothing happens...

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    2. Wait til next week. Then...something happens. Our day will come, possibly as soon as next week. If nothing happens then it's on to the next one. Definition of insanity? I'd rather be a nutcase than a pessimist.

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  29. It just sucks that we have all this cold air and there are just no storms. It is sooooo quiet. Everyone keeps saying it will change, but it never comes to fruition.

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    Replies
    1. ♪ Nothing chaaaanges ♪
      ♪ Just rearraaaanges ♪

      In all seriousness, "change" doesn't have to mean "more big storms." We've been cold and somewhat snowy for two weeks since the zonal flow Pacific hell back in December. And we've gone over this ad nauseum, it HAS NOT been quiet.

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    2. Well, to me it has been quiet. We have not had a storm of seriousness since early December. Storm wise it has been quiet. If you call an inch here and there NOT quiet then I will give and not argue. We are lacking in storms is what I mean.

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    3. Right, because the Official Snowdog Delineator Between Something And Nothing is at least one foot of snow in 24 hours. Got it :P

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    4. Nope. I just don't call active and inch here and an inch there. To me it is an active winter when we get synoptic storms which have been lacking this year. Our lake effect EVENTS have been wimpy at best like the last one. The lake effect has been inactive as well here in Rochester. That is why we are 7" below normal for the year and well under from last year.

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    5. So getting a clipper, an arctic front, a gusty bout of lake effect, another clipper, an overrunning event and some more lake effect, all in the span of less than a week...what would you call that? Calm? Flaccid? Smooth sailing? A whole lotta nothing? That's a half dozen distinct weather events in rapid succession, do they all just not count in your mind? If a bunch of crickets are outside chirping like crazy, is it still quiet because they aren't making your walls vibrate? I don't get it. Here are the relevant dictionary definitions of "active" by the way, courtesy of Captain Oxford:

      http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/active

      "Moving or tending to move about vigorously or frequently"
      "Characterized by energetic activity"

      Nothing in there about needing high impact events to occur, and the rapid succession of snow-producing disturbances definitely constitutes "energetic" given the amount of ENERGY floating around. By the way, "an inch here and an inch there" is an extremely inaccurate characterization of how the stretch in question played out. Go to the NWS climate page and review each snowfall during that stretch. You think this is a matter of subjective interpretation; it really isn't. 1/6 through 1/12 was an active period, end of story, no amount of mental gymnastics can change that fact. Why am I engaging in this idiotic and seemingly pointless argument, you ask? Because we're going to keep having stretches like that several times per year, and you're going to complain about every single one of them while the rest of us enjoy the snow...unless you lower your standards to a more realistic level. Our winter climo isn't that exciting, we don't routinely get slammed with a bunch of big storms between November and April, we don't end up in the crosshairs of most systems that the Gulf decides to puke up into the eastern states...but we DO receive a lot of smaller activity on a very frequent basis. Embrace that reality and maybe you'll finally quit moaning and groaning for longer than a week.

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    6. Chris now in PenfieldJanuary 15, 2015 at 7:54 PM

      98% of the winter is free of large snow events.

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    7. Chris now in PenfieldJanuary 15, 2015 at 7:56 PM

      For the record, I would much rather have consistent nickel-and-dime events than a large storm…4 weeks off…large storm. Keeps the snow pack fresh and pretty, plus it is much easier to manage for driving, snowplowing, plowing, etc. Plus, that is great for the trails ! :-0

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    8. Not me. I would much rather have BIG storms than nickel and dime stuff that we always get. That is my opinion. No matter what you say CCC this winter, to me, has not been active as far as snowfall is concerned. I respect your opinion, just respect mine.

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    9. I wasn't even talking about the whole winter, I was talking about the stretch from 1/6 through 1/12. Anyone who paid even a cursory amount of attention knows that December was a boring hellhole with all of one notable winter storm.

      "I would much rather have BIG storms than nickel and dime stuff that we always get."

      Oh man you sound EXACTLY like I did back in January 2011, when we were getting nickel-and-dimed into oblivion while the coast got hammered over and over. I told myself that I would much rather have NYC's climo with all of the big storms, forget these wimpy little nickels and dimes they're stupid anyway. Fast forward to one year later, I was practically begging for that pattern to repeat itself. NYC's climo was happening right in front of me, and it was nothing but mud puddles and dreary overcast. I'm right there with you, I would LOVE to have a climo that promotes big storms every week or two in place of our usual smaller events. But here's where we diverge pretty severely: I don't complain when we do get those smaller events. I appreciate when they happen, because I know I could be staring at brown grass and dirty puddles instead of beautiful fresh snow. I could choose to shake my fist at the sky and act like it'll make a difference, but that's just a waste of valuable calories. You can bet your ass I'd rather have a big honking inland runner primed to slam us with multiple feet of snow and severe blizzard conditions. But that's such a rare occurrence that I don't bother obsessing over it, and I certainly don't come to this blog to complain that one isn't happening. I absolutely respect your preferences...just like I respect somebody's preference to climb to the top of the Washington Monument rather than take the elevator. I have no right to look down on them for their preference, but I still wonder why they put themselves through that kind of trouble. You can set your standards as high as you want, just as long as you're willing to be sorely disappointed most of the time.

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    10. Agreed. I see what you are saying. It just irritates me that we have cold air with no storms around. We will see what happens the rest of the winter.

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  30. Next week is also, NOT going to be quiet.

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  31. There will be a blizzard in The Flower City within the next 2 months. Mark it down!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  32. How often do we get big storms around here? Once or twice a year usually? Most of the winter is quiet if you are using big storms as your criteria. We get most of our annual snow from lake effect and a decent sized lake effect event is not quiet at all.

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    1. I've posted this too many times to count, but our region average 4-5 heavy snowfalls per winter, heavy being defined as 6 inches or greater. The relevant graphic is a little ways down the page in this link:

      http://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/comment.html?entrynum=1717

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  33. That is one messy looking progression of things on the Euro for late next week. Just a giant mess of shortwaves that eventually consolidates into some freakish behemoth just off the coast. Nothing more than a curiosity at this lead time. The Euro ensemble mean looks nice for our purposes, with most of the members tracking NW of the operational. The GFS ensembles are a lot messier, but the mean still looks decent. The GGEM suite has completely lost its way and tries to break the western ridge down far too quickly given the expected teleconnection progression and the depictions in the other model suites. Basically anything from a western Appalachians runner to a Miller B coastal transfer to a pure Miller A coastal to a southern slider is still on the table at this point. Two things are rather high confidence though: there will be significant cyclogenesis somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico next week, and the airmass following whatever develops will be really freaking cold.

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  34. All I am saying is this. The winters I remember are the ones that had BIG storms. Blizzards and Ice storms. I do not remember the winters that was all nickel and dime stuff which happens most of our winters, I want the memorable winters which are few and far between. This nickel and dime stuff, to me, is boring.

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    Replies
    1. Oh..your 500 posts on this didn't make that very clear. Thanks for posting it one more time.

      Delete
    2. Chris now in PenfieldJanuary 16, 2015 at 10:28 AM

      Snowdog - go through weather history for ROC…those memorable are memorable because they were very infrequent. The nature of your post proves that. You don't remember the nickel and dime winters because they aren't significant in your memory, but they are the norm. The 30 year average is 4-5 per year. That goes back to 1980. I was born in 1975, and I remember a few nasty, cold and snowy winters. It was not EVERY winter. More recently, I recall 2010-11, 2013-14, 2002-03 and 2003-04 as particularly nasty with frequent large (6"+) snow events. 1999 featured two 20"+ storms in March. 1994 was really cold, but fairly dry like this winter. 2006-07 was a moderate winter here, as was 2004-05. I do also agree that winters are slightly less severe than they used to be…but not as much as our memories would like, as the heavy winters of the past tend to blend together and create an illusion that every winter was that way. As I look out my window in rural, eastern Penfield right now, it is snowing with about a 5" snowpack. There has been steady snow cover here since the 1st of the year and it isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

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  35. Visibility pretty low this morning with the blowing snow. Drive careful.

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  36. Not one local met is talking about a storm potential at the end of next week. In fact Scott said very little snow the next 7 days. KW keeps trying to give faint hope for Sun/Monday. We will keep hearing as we usually do that signs are pointing to a snowy and cold pattern and that will keep getting pushed week after week as usual.

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    Replies
    1. When was the last time someone mentioned a storm 7 - 8 days away on TV?

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    2. Channel 10 is very fond of doing this. Often.

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  37. Snowed another 3 inches in hamlin this morning. Far from quiet here.

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  38. Cold front over achieved thanks to the lake. I will still keep my shovel handy for next week it still looks active to me.

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  39. 12z GFS is nothing next week for a storm. Very disappointing.

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    Replies
    1. Lower your expectations to zero and you'll never be disappointed again ;D

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  40. I will say that I'm not a fan of the overnight trends, but we're still 8 days away. Recall the model agreement from our cutter a few weeks ago, the agreement that had the system sliding too far south. Then recall what eventually happened in reality. There's still a huge spread in the ensembles, that alone communicates plenty of remaining uncertainty. One new feature has made itself known within the past 24 hours on the models: a redeveloping clipper, which I'm sure everyone here would be just thrilled to have yet again. The difference this time is that it may have some access to southern stream moisture, which could actually produce an appreciable snowfall if its associated shortwave digs enough.

    Cold and windy out there with frequent blowing snow and some decent drifting. Strong shades of last season for sure.

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    Replies
    1. Agreed, the past few weeks have made our "mild" stretch in early December a distant memory. BTW, we actually got a fair amount of snow last night as HP previously mentioned, nickle and dimes add up over time so I feel as though 100+ inches is still in the cards.

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    2. And idk about you CCCC, but I'm beginning to think the MJO trumps all the teleconections...

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    3. We've been cold on average while the MJO was busy floating around in warm phases at record amplitudes. So I don't think it's that much of a trump card, at least not substantially more than a teleconnection domain with a large mass field such as the EPO.

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