ITHACA, N.Y. — Below are some of the latest weather updates coming in for our local area.
1. It’s even uglier than expected.
The winter storm’s track jogged slightly further north and west than expected as it strengthened during the morning hours. While this means that New York City was spared the brunt of it, Ithaca and Tompkins County have seen progressively higher snowfall forecasts. To quote NWS Binghamton, “[t]his is near dynamic perfection as far as epic snowstorms go.”
So far, up to 21.6″ of snow has been reported in Broome County, and 11.6″ in Cortland County. Tompkins County, a littler further away from the storm, has been a little more fortunate – 7.5″ in Danby as of 1:15 PM, and 5-6″ in Ithaca. Remember, there are several hours of snow yet to fall.
2. Intense bands are embedded within the overall storm.
Note on the radar screenshot, the areas of higher reflectivity, measured in DBZ (decibels). Those dark green and yellow bands are particularly intense snow bands, pushing 3-4″ per hour in some spots. A second powerful band of heavy snow is making its way through Broome County and towards Ithaca, likely within the next hour. You can watch its progress here.
Note that forecast models have a lot of difficulty picking out bands within larger circulations, because they are small features, often only a few tens of miles long. As a result, snowfall amounts may be higher than forecasted in some areas. Some estimates are approaching three feet.
3. Blowing snow and drifting snow will be major concerns through the overnight hours.
The storm is continuing to deepen (strengthen) rapidly as it moves along the coast. As it deepens, the winds will pick up, with gusts up to 35 MPH. The high winds, combined with the massive accumulations, will potentially create impassable roads and white-out conditions even after the main event begins to wind down later this evening. Take extreme caution if driving this evening or overnight.
4. Lake-enhanced snow is likely to follow the main event.
As the system pulls away, the winds will shift to the northwest – ideal for catching the air off the warm waters of Lake Ontario, and driving the formation of lake-enhanced snowbands late Tuesday into Wednesday. So although the heaviest snow is falling right now, snow is expected to persist in weaker, lighter bands through tomorrow morning.