Narrowing down Christmas Eve Storm options and travel conditions – Syracuse.com

Posted: Monday, December 22, 2014

Syracuse- The big balloon of weather hype for Christmas Eve has had a lot of its air let out. Those clamoring for a big snow storm on Christmas a week ago are now looking for the newest blizzard to show up on the models as it becomes increasing likely that the weather event on Wednesday and Thursday will be warm, wet and windy- not white.

When I blogged on Friday, I outlined three main possibilities for the complex pattern that will evolved over the next couple of days:

  1. A single, very strong storm passing to our west, then north.
  2. A single, strong storm passing to our east along the coast.
  3. Some combination of multiple storms, both to our west and east.

Option number 1 has become the favored scenario, with most major models consistently showing this over the past few days.

A coastal storm is unlikely because an area of low pressure out ahead of the main storm will mix up the atmosphere on Tuesday across the coastal regions, reducing the necessary temperatures gradients needed for a big storm to form.

Instead, those temperatures gradients will be further west, with 50s and 60s on the west side of the Appalachians and 30s and 40s across the Midwest and Mississippi River Valley.

There are still certain details that need to be worked out for this storm- details that could have a noticeable impact on our weather.

One of the major questions at this point is what a third area of low pressure over the Great Lakes will do. If this low hangs back long enough, the main storm system may absorb it, creating a very strong storm centered over southern Ontario Wednesday night.

Or, this low may skirt north faster and stay separate from the main storm. This would result in a weaker, but still strong low that passes to our west on a similar track as if the storms merged.

The main difference in our weather between these two scenarios will be the wind. If a strong storm forms, a period of strong winds with gusts over 50mph is a very real possibility, mostly Wednesday night and early Thursday.

12-24-14travel.pngView full sizeThe Christmas Eve Storm should have a generally low impact on travel around the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, with rain and wind the primary concerns. 

I tend to think the storms will stay their own entities though, resulting in lighter, but still gusty winds, mostly on Christmas Day. Winds will be strongest west of central New York, but locally, we could still see some gusts over 40mph from this scenario.

Other details will need to be worked out as well, such as how warm it will get Wednesday night as the warm sector moves through, how much rain we will get before dry air cuts off our precipitation, and how quickly the cold air returns on the back side of the storm Thursday.

As far as travel around the region goes, there should not be too many problems. Rain will impact New England Tuesday and Wednesday, with more precipitation in those areas than locally or to our west, where dry air will wrap into the storm. The wind could cause some low impact travel delays as well, especially further west, closer to the low.

And so, this storm, while still impressive from a meteorological stand point, has to be a disappointment to those meteorologists and weather enthusiasts who hyped it up as a major snow event way too soon. Just another in an ever growing list of hype-busts. Are we really surprised?

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