Syracuse, NY – This weekend’s winter storm is starting to take shape, and odds are increasing that it could drop up to a foot of snow in Upstate New York.
The “dynamic and fast-moving” storm could also bring 40 mph wind gusts that would sharply reduce visibility and make driving dangerous during the day Saturday, the National Weather Service said.
“Travel could be very difficult to impossible,” the weather service said this morning in issuing winter storm watches for Central New York, Finger Lakes and the Adirondacks. The watches are in effect Friday evening through Saturday evening.
The odds of Syracuse getting at least 8 inches of snow through Sunday are nearly 90%, the weather service estimates. There’s a better than 50-50 chance of seeing a foot of snow.
In Central New York, the heaviest snow is likely to fall just before and during the Syracuse St. Patrick’s Parade, which steps off at noon Saturday. This could end up being the snowiest day for the parade since it was revived in 1983. The record now is 7 inches, on March 14, 1992.
There are still some unanswered questions about the storm which could affect how much snow falls where, including how fast the storm moves up the coast and how soon rain switches over to snow late Friday or early Saturday. The current path of the massive storm would drop a wide band of heavy snow from New Mexico to Maine.
“There is still certainly some potential for the storm track, and therefore amounts, to shift a bit,” the weather service said.
The biggest factor in the storm is a low pressure system rolling up the East Coast, which will bring cold air and snow inland as far west as Michigan. After that storm pushes past the coast of Maine Saturday, it could drag more cold air across the Great Lakes and deliver some lake effect snow into Sunday morning for Central and Western New York.
The storm starts off as light rain Friday evening, but as temperatures fall that rain is likely to become snow after midnight. By daybreak, the storm will ramp up, with snow falling at rates up to 1 inch an hour just as temperatures drop and winds accelerate. By early Sunday morning, temperatures will be in the teens, with wind chills nearing zero.
Syracuse is well behind on snowfall this season. So far, 61.9 inches has been recorded this season at Hancock International Airport. Normal snowfall through March 9 is 113.9 inches. That’s a gap of more than 4 feet.