AccuWeather is wrapping up live coverage of the cross-country storm that produced deadly tornadoes in the South, blizzard conditions in the northern Plains, and snow, ice and rain in the Northeast. Forecasters are now shifting their focus to a potential blockbuster storm that could unfold during Hanukkah and prior to Christmas next week. For additional coverage, stream AccuWeather NOW anytime on our website. Stay up to date on the latest weather in your area by downloading the AccuWeather mobile app and visiting AccuWeather.com. And keep an eye on weather news and forecasts by following AccuWeather on:
The snow continued to pile up across the Northeast Friday morning and by early Friday afternoon, snowfall totals were surpassing the 1-foot mark in some localized areas. Located about 20 miles east of the New York-Vermont border, a weather spotter in Landgrove, Vermont, measured 13 inches of snow as of Friday afternoon. In Keene, New York, which is near Lake Placid, 12.5 inches of snow has fallen. Snowfall totals just hit double digits in Massachusetts when a weather spotter recorded a snowfall total of 10 inches in Plainfield, which is located in the northwestern corner of the Bay State. A weather spotter in Forest City, Pennsylvania, which is located in the northeast corner of the state, measured 9.7 inches of snow Friday afternoon.
Lake-effect snow warnings are set to begin Friday evening and go through the weekend, the National Weather Service (NWS) office in Buffalo, New York, wrote in a tweet on Friday morning. Up to 2 feet of snow is expected downwind of Lake Erie through the weekend. According to AccuWeather forecasters, the heaviest snow downwind of Lake Erie will occur just south of Buffalo, near some of the towns that measured nearly 6 feet of snow during the November lake-effect snow event. Lake-effect snow is also expected downwind of Lake Ontario. The lake-effect snow will lead to poor visibility on roadways and travel delays.
The Miami Dolphins typically get to play football in warm weather, but their upcoming game against the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park, New York, will have many of the players reaching for their coats. According to AccuWeather forecasters, cold air will flow into the Northeast and set off bands of heavy lake-effect snow this weekend. Temperatures will be around 30 degrees F at kickoff, but the wind will make it feel much colder. AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures will be in the teens to low 20s during the game. In addition to the cold weather, a chance for snow is in the forecast. In preparation for the cold game, the Dolphins have been blasting the AC inside their indoor practice facility, NBC Miami reported. “Playing in December in Buffalo is not the easiest task to do,” Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen said, NBC Miami reported. According to AccuWeather chief on-air meteorologist Bernie Rayno, Tua Tagovailoa has never played an NFL game below 36 degrees F. “For me at least, it’s a mindset thing, really. If I’m too focused and worried about, ‘Is it too cold? Can I really grab the ball? Can I not,’ then I would say I’m focused on the wrong things,” Tagovailoa said at a press conference on Thursday.
Clouds covering the entirety of the Northeast could be seen on NOAA’s GOES East satellite as the sun rose on Friday morning. The storm, which was delivering snow, freezing rain, sleet and rain across the Northeast Friday morning, is expected to continue bringing wintry weather to the Northeast through the first half of the weekend. Snowfall reports are just nearing 10 inches, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). In the wake of the storm, cold air drawn in from the Midwest will be enough to trigger bands of heavy lake-effect snow.
Winter sport lovers are excited for the fresh snow at local ski mountains across the Northeast. “Snow has been coming down heavily since early this [Friday] morning, covering the mountain in fresh powder. Some areas higher in elevation are seeing 4-6 inches,” the Whiteface Ski Mountain snow report wrote in a weather update. Whiteface Ski Mountain is located in upstate New York in the Adirondack Mountain Range. According to AccuWeather forecasters, 1-2 feet of snow is expected to fall at the ski resort by Saturday afternoon. “We’re excited for the snow and this is our first time this year, so we’re pretty pumped,” Keith of Peru, New York, told AccuWeather Reporter Lincoln Riddle in an interview before hitting the slopes.
Whiteface Ski Mountain, New York. (AccuWeather/ Lincoln Riddle)
As of 9:30 a.m. EST, snowfall totals are nearing double digits in the Northeast, according to snow reports from the National Weather Service (NWS). About 13 miles east of the New York-Vermont border, in Winhall, Vermont, a weather spotter measured 9 inches of snow Friday morning. Just south of the Vermont border, in Hawley, Massachusetts, a weather spotter also measured 9 inches of snow. Snowfall totals at the NWS office in Binghamton, New York, reached about 8 inches Friday morning. In Connecticut, snowfall totals were confined to the northwestern part of the state. In Canaan, Connecticut, 6.2 inches of snow was measured by a weather spotter Friday morning.
Parts of central New York are experiencing a wintry mix from the first major storm of the season. Since the storm started late Thursday, snow, freezing rain and sleet have made a mess of the roads across the central region of the state. But Onondaga County Department of Transportation Commissioner Martin Voss told AccuWeather National Reporter Jillian Angeline that this type of storm presents some challenges. “If we get too much of the slushy, sloppy stuff and we don’t get the salt on it as quickly as we’d like then you can start to get a little coating on the road which is dangerous once it gets snow on top of the coating so what we really wanna do is to be out as aggressively as we can now,” Voss said.
Additionally, the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) has called in backup to help keep the roads clear in central New York. Crews from the Long Island region were welcomed to the central NYSDOT offices on Thursday afternoon just before a storm briefing started. “Slow down, pay attention where you’re going, give the plows room to do their work and maybe put the phone down while you’re driving,” Voss said.
Officials are urging people to take it slow on the road.
As a winter storm gets underway across the Northeast, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) has deployed more than 170 plows and other machinery deployed in the western third of the state. According to the Massachusetts State Police, a 40 mph speed restriction on Interstate 90 has been set between exit 14 in Lee, Massachusetts, and exit 31, in Westfield, Massachusetts, which is a total distance of roughly 28 miles. Next to Lee, in Becket, Massachusetts, a weather spotter measured 5 inches of snow as of 6:30 a.m. local time Friday morning.
When looking at the wind flow over the eastern third of the country, two low-pressure systems can easily be seen spinning. The first low-pressure system, located on the Minnesota-Wisconsin border, brought blizzard conditions to the northern Plains and severe weather to the south-central states. The second low-pressure system, located on the coast of New Jersey, is bringing a wintry mix to the Northeast and mid-Atlantic states. As of Friday morning, heavy rain was falling in low elevation areas, like the Connecticut river valley, while snow was being reported in higher elevations, like the Berkshire Mountains in western Massachusetts.
Snow and ice fell in the Northeast on Thursday, and some of the precipitation was heavy. In the town of Forest City, Pennsylvania, snow nearly measured in double digits. Elsewhere in Pennsylvania and New York, reports came in at 6-8 inches.
The storm will continue to move into New England on Friday and Saturday. Even higher snowfall totals are expected in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, with over a foot of snow possible where the heaviest snow falls.
In the wake of the storm, lake-effect snow will develop.
Nearly 70% of the U.S. population lives in a region that receives more than 5 inches of snow annually, and an overwhelming number of the nation’s roadways traverse those snowy areas, according to the Federal Highway Administration (FHA). This means there is a high likelihood that your simple grocery store run or morning commute could be impacted by winter weather at least once. From snow to sleet to freezing rain or ice, winter weather yields numerous types of precipitation that all pose hazards and difficulties on the roadways. According to the FHA, more than 24% of weather-related vehicle crashes occur on snowy, slushy, or icy pavement, and 15% happen during snowfall or sleet. But equally dangerous is getting stuck for hours in a snowstorm in your vehicle. Many people don’t envision themselves in this situation, but the unthinkable does happen and being prepared and knowing what to do can help save you and your family’s lives. “The best thing you can do to protect yourself is to not travel if you can,” AccuWeather Chief On-Air Meteorologist Bernie Rayno said, but if you do have to be out on the roads, being prepared is vital.
• Have an emergency car kit that includes a flashlight, gloves, a battery-powered radio, water, extra food and a blanket.
• If you cannot move, stay where you are and don’t abandon your vehicle. It is a good place to take shelter, especially during a winter storm.
• Notify the authorities with your cellphone and pinpoint your location with GPS either on your cellphone or with navigation services in your car. Make sure to tell the authorities relevant information, like how much gas your car has, how much food and water you have and your location.
• If you don’t have any cellphone service to contact the authorities, then it is important to stay put.
• Turning your car off periodically will help conserve precious gas and battery life and reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
• Make sure that your vehicle is visible to others. Using a piece of bright-colored fabric, road flares, or a traffic light behind your vehicle will all help to ensure your car is easily spotted on the road or highway.
• Make sure if you have to leave your home, to have a fully charged cellphone as well as a portable cellphone charger for the car.
Lake-effect snow is forecast to pile up in parts of New York by the end of the weekend, but how is this different from a typical snowstorm? Widespread snow is often caused by a large-scale storm system like nor’easter. Winter storms revolve around a central area of low pressure and can produce not just snow, but also sleet, freezing rain and thunderstorms. These far-reaching storms can spread accumulating snow over several states at the same time and can track across the entire country.
Lake-effect snow does not need a large-scale low-pressure system to develop. All it takes is for bitterly cold air to interact with comparatively warm water. When the wind direction aligns with the shape of the Great Lakes, it can generate smaller-scale snow events that can unload feet of powder over a small area. The localized nature of lake-effect snow means that a few miles could be the difference between accumulations of a few inches and a few feet.
Lake-effect snow is not just limited to the Great Lakes. Any large body of water can generate snow when the weather conditions are right, including the Finger Lakes in upstate New York, the Great Salt Lake in Utah and the Chesapeake Bay.
Snow is in the forecast for portions of the Northeast this week, the snowfall totals will pale in comparison to those from one snowstorm in December 2020. A snowstorm buried the region from Dec. 15 to Dec. 17, with some places across New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania measuring upwards of 40 inches of snow. Vestal, New York, was one such location, recording up to 45 inches. Newark Valley, New York; Ludlow, Vermont; and Croydon, New Hampshire, all measured 44 inches of snow. Williamsport, Pennsylvania, which is home to the Little League World Series, measured 24.7 inches of snow, placing the snowstorm as the largest the city had recorded since records began in 1895.
Snowfall totals across the Northeast this weekend aren’t likely to rival the ones from that storm, however. Areas across eastern New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine could see up to 18 inches of snow, and locations off the west coast of the Great Lakes may see 1 to 3 feet of snowfall due to lake-effect snow, according to AccuWeather forecasters.
Lake-effect snow is a weather phenomenon generated by cold air moving over comparatively warm water, so it’s common across the Great Lakes region during the late autumn as cold air from Canada moves over the unfrozen lakes. During this process, the combination of heat and moisture from the lake meeting the cold air cause clouds to form, which grow into narrow bands capable of producing heavy snowfall.
Meteorologists look for a temperature difference of 23 degrees Fahrenheit or more between the lake water and the air about 5,000 feet above the surface of the lakes, with a greater temperature difference leading to heavier lake-effect snow. For this reason, the late fall and winter, or when the waters of the Great Lakes are still unfrozen and relatively warm compared to the colder air flowing in, is typically the prime time of the season for lake-effect snow. The winds are the main factor in where the snow falls, and in the cases where the wind direction doesn't shift, snowfall totals can begin to pile up.
Buffalo, New York, received mostly rain on Thursday, but more lake-effect snow is in the forecast for the area come Friday night. The main determining factor of how much the city will receive hinges on wind direction and the temperature of the air and water in the Great Lakes. The bigger the difference in air versus water temperatures, the more intense the snow bands can be. The wind then directs the direction of those bands. “An initial west-southwest wind flow can bring a lake-effect snow band into the Buffalo, New York, Southtowns, including Orchard Park, or even downtown Buffalo from late Friday night to Saturday evening,”AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Adam Douty said. This snowfall event isn’t likely to rival the one from November, however, when the lake-effect snow boosted snowfall totals of 4-7 feet in northern New York.
Lake Placid, New York, a village situated in the Adirondack Mountains and known as the 1980 Winter Olympics venue and a hub for winter sports, is expected to see the brunt of the winter storm with very heavy snowfall rates. Art Devlin, mayor of Lake Placid, told AccuWeather about the area’s snow preparation. He noted that the first big storm of the season can be easier for snow removal, since preventative maintenance programs are right up to speed. “It’s a lot worse when you’ve been at it month after month and haven’t had a chance to get the things that should be on our side,” Devlin said in an interview. The village checks all snow plows and equipment, making sure everything is oiled and greased up. Due to environmental issues, sand is used to create traction on roadways rather than salt, especially around Lake Mirror, the lake within the village.
Lake Placid is no stranger to winter weather. The area sees so much snow in winter that it is dumped in snowfields about 2 miles away when it becomes too much to handle, and Devlin explained that space is on the village’s side. On the other hand, resources are an issue. Plow drivers will sometimes work two days straight, according to Devlin. “These storms all come on the weekends. The people doing the plowing have worked all week and then they’ve got to go back out and work all weekend.” For people visiting the area, Devlin recommended following simple but important tips to stay safe while traveling in winter weather, including slowing down, keeping eyes on the road, being careful and adding more distance between vehicles.
Freezing rain, sleet and snow have caused headaches across the mid-Atlantic due to treacherous travel and being left in the dark. As of Thursday afternoon, around 47,000 electric customers were without power across Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland and Virginia, according to PowerOutage.us. Families without power could be without heat in their homes until power is restored. People using generators should ensure that the generator is outdoors in a properly ventilated area to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
The snow keeps piling up in the north-central U.S., with towns across North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota experiencing near-blizzard conditions. Heavy, blowing snow has created a complete whiteout in Valley City, North Dakota, located 58 miles west of Fargo, North Dakota. However, sustained winds have topped out around 30 mph, 5 mph shy of blizzard criteria. The onslaught of snow and wind is being accompanied by AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures below 0 F.
At least two buildings were damaged, including a preschool, after a severe thunderstorm tracked near St. Petersburg, Florida, around midday Thursday. No children at the All Children’s Academy were injured when the storms swept through, but the building may be closed for an extended period due to the damage from the storm, local news station WTSP reported. The National Weather Service is planning on investigating the storm damage to determine if a tornado briefly touched down in the area. The severe weather risk has since ended for the Tampa area, but strong storms and tornadoes will be possible elsewhere in central Florida through the afternoon.
A combination of sleet, freezing rain and snow has been reported from Virginia to New York, on Thursday, and created a mess on roadways. A weather spotter in McHenry, Maryland, which is located in the northwestern part of the state, near the West Virginia and Pennsylvania border, reported 1 inch of sleet. Just south of McHenry, in Deer Park, Maryland, 0.5 of an inch of sleet was measured by a weather spotter as of Thursday afternoon.
Freezing rain, which is different from sleet, has created a glaze over the trees and on the street in multiple states. In Terra Alta, West Virginia, which is located near the Maryland border, 0.4 of an inch of freezing rain has fallen as of Thursday afternoon. East of Terra Alta, in Jerome, West Virginia, 0.30 of an inch of freezing rain has fallen. In Grantsville, Maryland, located near the Pennsylvania border, a storm spotter also measured 0.30 of an inch of freezing rain.
Accidents have been reported across Pennsylvania Thursday morning amid snowy and icy conditions, including a crash on one of the state’s biggest highways. A section of Interstate 76, also known as the Pennsylvania Turnpike, was shut down following a multi-vehicle crash that involved tractor-trailers. The accident forced officials to temporarily close both sides of the Turnpike in south-central Pennsylvania, causing the highway to appear more like a parking lot as traffic backed up behind the accident. Traffic is now slowly moving in the area of the crash, but the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation said on its website that motorists traveling on the eastbound lanes toward the Allegheny Tunnel should be alert for stopped traffic and expect delays due to the crash.
A major accident occurred on Interstate 76, a Pennsylvania turnpike, on Dec. 15, prompting officials to shut down both sides of the interstate as conditions continue to decline.
AccuWeather meteorologists say the heaviest snow will fall across the interior Northeast, with parts of New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine the most likely to receive totals ranging from 12 to 18 inches. Some areas could receive an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ over 24 inches. According to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski, the winter storm in the Northeast should “treat ski resorts quite well from the Poconos to the Catskills and the Green and White mountains.”
As wintry weather unfolds in the Northeast, severe weather continues to affect parts of the South. A line of severe thunderstorms with gusty winds and frequent lightning is approaching Tampa and Saint Petersburg, Florida, as the multi-day severe weather outbreak shifts its focus to Florida. A quick spin-up tornado cannot be ruled out as the line of storms moves across Florida with a tornado watch in effect until 4 p.m. EST. A travel advisory is in effect for the Sunshine Skyway Bridge due to the risk of high winds as the storms blow through the Tampa region.
A mix of wintry precipitation is spreading across the interior mid-Atlantic, including sleet and freezing rain, but how are these two types of precipitation different? In both cases, snow falling in a storm encounters a layer of warm air high above the ground, which causes the snow to melt into raindrops.
As the rain continues to fall, it encounters a pocket of cold air where temperatures are below freezing. If there is a thick layer of subfreezing air above the ground, the raindrops freeze into sleet pellets before reaching the surface. If there is a shallow layer of subfreezing air, the raindrops reach the ground as liquid and then freeze after making contact with the ground. Freezing rain can be more dangerous than sleet as freezing rain can weigh down tree limbs and power lines and turn highways into sheets of ice.
It’s a complex setup for the storm in the Northeast on Thursday, with rain, freezing rain, sleet and accumulating snow threatening to cause travel nightmares. AccuWeather Long-Range Meteorologist Joe Lundberg and AccuWeather Chief On-Air Meteorologist Bernie Rayno discussed some of the ongoing threats from the storm on the AccuWeather Network earlier Thursday as well as how it will develop into the evening hours. Lundberg noted that the storm could evolve into more of a “classic nor’easter for New England.” Watch the video below for more.
AccuWeather’s Bernie Rayno and Joe Lundberg break down dangerous winter weather expected to bring snow and ice to the northeastern U.S.
The same system responsible for deadly tornadoes in the South and blizzard conditions in the northern Plains is now moving into the Northeast with a mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain. The worst of the wintry mix is currently focusing on a zone from the mountains of Virginia through central Pennsylvania, making travel conditions very dangerous across the region, including segments of Interstates 80 and 81. Freezing rain is weighing down tree limbs and power lines with reports of widespread ice accumulations between 0.10 and 0.25 of an inch. Officials are encouraging people to avoid unnecessary travel, but motorists that do travel should allow ample time to reach their destination.
Wind and snow have blasted the north-central U.S. this week, bringing travel to a halt and leaving some residents in the dark. As of Thursday morning, 155,000 electric customers across Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan were without power, according to PowerOutage.us.
Wisconsin accounted for nearly half of the outages across the region with most of the outages reported in the central and northwestern areas of the state. Over 74% of all residents in Rusk, Sawyer and Washburn counties were in the dark on Thursday morning with over a foot of fresh snow blanketing the counties. Some outages could be lengthy as the ongoing wintry weather could make it challenging for crews to restore power across the region.
Due to forecast winter weather, Pennsylvania State University announced Wednesday evening that all final exams, activities and work at the school are canceled on Thursday.“The decision to reschedule final exams and cancel work and other activities at University Park was determined to be in the best safety interest of the University community,” the school said in a statement. According to AccuWeather forecasters, 0.15 to 0.25 of an inch of ice is expected for State College, Pennsylvania, and 3 to 6 inches of snow is forecast to fall. Final exams scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 15, will be rescheduled to Friday, Dec. 16, and Saturday, Dec. 17. According to the announcement, only employees who perform essential services should report to the university.
For previous storm reports and updates on the severe weather in the south and blizzard conditions in the northern U.S., click here.
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