Widespread Lake Effect/Upslope Snows Expected Later this Week...

By: Zachary Labe , 8:05 PM GMT on December 18, 2012

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Posted Tuesday, 18 December 2012

A closed upper level low will continue to slowly move through southern Canada and upstate New York during the later half of the upcoming week. A deep trough and subsequent northwest flow will allow for the first prolonged lake effect snow event of the year. Widespread upslope snows are also expected across the Appalachians up through the White/Green Mountains. Accumulations will be widespread in the snow belt regions, but generally light to moderate amounts.

Lake Effect Snow Outbreak December 21-23, 2012
A significant winter storm will be tracking through the Midwest and Great Lakes by the middle of this week. This 992mb surface low will track across the Great Lakes and begin to weaken across western New York. A closed upper level low will begin to slowly meander across southern Canada increasing moisture under a northwest flow behind the steep cold front. H85 thermals will fall to a meager -6C, but given that lake temperatures are near 10F above normal, there will be enough of a gradient to spark a widespread lake effect event. The flow for the duration of the event will be around 300-315 degrees with possibly an even more northerly component depending on the track of the ULL. Limited instability will prevent significant banding, but nevertheless with PWATs +0.5SD there will be widespread snow shower activity for several days across the region.

This flow will increase snows across favored upslope and orographic locations from northern West Virginia up through the Laurel Highlands. Favored peaks in Garret County, MD up through Mt. Davis, PA and Laurel Summit, PA may see upwards of 10" of snow during this period. Current model QPF is already at an impressive ~0.5 inches. Across the Chautauqua Ridge in southwestern New York, upslope totals may also approach 10" of snow. This will help lay a fresh snow pack to several ski resorts in the region that are featuring a seasonal snow deficit of nearly two feet to date. As drier air begins to rotate into the region on Saturday, widespread light snow shower activity (with a few enhanced SN bands) will begin to focus into a more cellular nature under diurnal forcing. Mesoscale guidance indicates the development of several stronger bands off of Ontario down through possibly Rochester and Syracuse. UUV and omega growth peak during this period allowing for excellent dendritic growth. Snow ratios during this period may approach 17:1 with snow rates at 1in/hr in some locations. Northern Cayuga County through Onondaga and Madison Counties in New York will see the highest accumulations. During this period upslope snows will increase across northern Vermont in the higher elevations. This will be a multi-day event for this area with amounts approaching two feet above 3000ft by Monday.

Given the length of the fetch and typical northwest flow, a few snow bands may stretch east of the mountains into the central ridge and valley region of Pennsylvania and Poconos. Any accumulations in this area will be isolated and generally around 1-3 inches. A bit of Huron connection may be possible Saturday night during the peak of the lake effect snow event. At this point in the medium range, it is too early to highlight typical bands such as the 322 streamer.

Drier and more stable air will cutoff the cyclonic circulation by early next week with more seasonable temperatures. Winds will also begin to relax.

Regional Radar...

(Courtesy of NOAA)

Regional Advisories...

(Courtesy of NOAA)

Storm Reports...
None.

Storm Impacts...
1. Sustained winds of 20-30mph with gusts approaching 40mph are expected over the region with whiteout conditions possible in snow squalls.
2. Deep moisture field and long fetch will allow snow showers to stretch east of the mountains.
3. Heavy snow accumulations in favored 300 degree snow belts are expected with totals approaching up to 10"
4. First widespread lake effect event of the winter will have greater impacts than normal due to the the infrequency this December.
5. Temperatures and air mass will be marginally cold and generally in the upper 20s to mid 30s for most areas.

Snow Map...

*The heaviest snow accumulations will be confined to the higher elevations and favored northwest flow snow belt regions. The highest accumulations are expected near the Syracuse metro region and across the upslope effect region of the Green Mountains near Stowe in northern Vermont. Heavy accumulations are also likely up through West Virginia and into the Laurel Highlands. Outside the snow belts snow amounts will be more isolated and dependent on the exact location of the bands and showers which are impossible to forecast exactly at this point in time.

Current Great Lakes Water Temperatures...

(Courtesy of NOAA)

Current Lake Erie Wind Direction and Speed...

(Courtesy of NOAA)

Current Lake Erie Water Temperature...

(Courtesy of NOAA)

"Selected City Accumulations"
Erie- 4-6" of snow with higher amounts to the south and east of the city
Meadville, PA- 4-8" of snow
Bradford, PA- 3-6" of snow with higher amounts near Warren County
Butler, PA- 2-4" of snow
Pittsburgh, PA- 1-4" of snow with isolated higher amounts
Latrobe, PA- 1-4" of snow
Indiana, PA- 2-4" of snow
Johnstown, PA- 5-10" of snow with higher amounts possible
Somerset, PA- 4-8" of snow with higher amounts possible
Altoona, PA- 1-4" of snow
Du Bois/Clearfield, PA- 3-6" of snow with locally higher amounts
Philipsburg, PA- 3-5" of snow
State College, PA- 1-3" of snow
Lock Haven, PA- 1-3" of snow
Williamsport, PA- Locally 1-2" of snow
Mt. Pocono, PA- 1-2" of snow
Selinsgrove, PA- Locally 1-2" of snow
Harrisburg, PA- Isolated C-1" of snow
Hagerstown, MD- Isolated C-1" of snow
Cumberland, MD- 1-3" of snow
Frostburg, MD- 2-4" of snow
McHenry, MD- 4-8" of snow
Oakland, MD- 4-9" of snow
Snowshoe, WV- 4-9" of snow
Buffalo, NY- 2-5" of snow with higher amounts to the south and west
Watertown, NY- 3-5" of snow
Syracuse, NY- 6-12" of snow with locally higher amounts
Albany, NY- Locally 1-2" of snow
Ithaca, NY- 1-4" of snow
Binghamton, NY- 1-2" of snow
Saranac Lake, NY- 3-5" of snow
Utica, NY- 5-10" of snow
Burlington, VT- 1-2" of snow. Higher amounts to east approaching 12"
North Conway, NH- 1-4" of snow
"Subject to Change"

Current Northeast Snow Depth and Northeast Wind chills...

(Courtesy of Wunderground)

Model Analysis
The GFS is a low resolution global model that typically does not do well in mesoscale events such as lake effect snow. But forecast QPF maps already suggest widespread high amounts over the Northeast snow belts, which is very impressive at this forecast range. A deep moisture field and long northwest fetch is suggested. The ECMWF is also in full support of this event especially across the upslope regions of northern Vermont where an extended multi-day period of heavy snow is possible. Isolated amounts in this region could reach 24" in some areas above 3000ft. All guidance supports a closed low that will allow for a bit of synoptic influence favoring some lighter snows outside the typical snow belts especially for western Pennsylvania and upstate western New York. These amounts will remain light though with QPF less than .15" for most areas. At this range, the NAM and other high resolution guidance is a bit too far out for their time frame. Latest trends in the GFS/ECMWF are showing a possible increase northerly component which would decrease the widespread activity of the snow showers. At this time it looks like the Buffalo metro area will be spared the worst of the event, while areas towards Rochester and Syracuse will be more favored.

After the Storm
As temperature anomalies approach +6F for the month of December for many climatological reporting stations across the Northeast, many are left asking where is winter. A majority of the cold air is locked well to the northwest of the contiguous United States in northern Canada. Even across areas seeing the next bout of winter weather in the Midwest, H85 thermals never even fall below -10C south of the Canadian border. This is a clear indication that much of the nation is well above normal in the temperature department. A +EPO in correspondance with a -PNA will continue to keep the cold air locked up to the north through the end of the month. A few energy meteorologists have been hinting at winter storm chances post Christmas in the Northeast, but given the latest tropical monsoon forcing indices out of the Indian Ocean and the status quo of the current NAO, it is likely these middle latitude cyclones will continue tracking through the Great Lakes. If any secondary cyclogenesis occurs on the east coast, it will only favor far northern New England with wintry precipitation. Unless we see a dramatic change in ensemble guidance and teleconnections, period through the end of December will be snowless across much of the east. While temperatures will likely average near normal, they will feature an oscillating pattern of unseasonable warmth as lows track to the northwest, and then brief arctic air behind the cold fronts.

After a near record dry November, the polar jet has begun to increase in activity as we continue a stormy pattern with several shortwaves per week. This pattern will continue through early January with precipitation totals averaging above normal for all climatological stations. While the MJO forcing remains meager and few changes in the NAO are expected, there are a few signs that the EPO will shift negative and begin to dump some arctic air farther south. As we also enter the coldest portion of the year, it is likely snow chances will begin to increase by early January. That being said, there are no signs of any abnormally snow periods.

Despite another snowless and record warm start to the meteorological winter, the synoptic pattern is very different than last winter. Whether that is encouraging or not, it is critical for snowlovers that we do not see any development of a PV in Alaska. This would disrupt the potentially favorable Pacific by January and allow increasing upper level heights over the eastern United States. The main idea to take from the long term will be a continued stormy pattern of Great Lakes cutters, while the east coast sees mostly rain in association with frontal passages. Any front end warm air advection winter precipitation will likely be confined to northern New England. If any pattern change does occur, it will likely be post New Years.

Please post storm reports in this blog from across the Northeast during the winter storm and please post location of observation in each report...

This blog is in progress. Check back soon...

Winter Forecast 2012-2013... Link

Follow my 24hr forecasts on Twitter... Link and Facebook... Link.

Lower Susquehanna Valley Doppler...

(Courtesy of WGAL)

"10mi northeast of Harrisburg 2012-2013 Winter Statistics"
(Snow Stats)
Monthly Total (October)- 0.0in
Monthly Total (November)- 0.8"
Monthly Total (December)- 9.5"
Seasonal Total- 10.3"
Winter Weather Advisories- 4
Winter Storm Warnings- 0
Ice Storm Warnings- 0
Blizzard Warnings- 0
Freezing Rain Advisories- 0
Winter Storm Watches- 0

(Temperature Stats)
Lowest High Temperature- 36.1F
Lowest Low Temperature- 18.5F
Wind Chill Advisories- 0
Wind Chill Warnings- 0

(Snow Storms Stats)
First Trace of Snow - November 24 - Lake Effect Snow Showers
First Measurable Snow - November 27 - 0.8" - Overrunning event
Enhanced Clipper - December 24 - 2.1" - Christmas Eve Snow!
Miller B - December 26 - 3.3" - 0.15" of freezing rain also
Miller B - December 29 - 4.1" - Moderate all snow event

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415. Gaara
The old f-bomb!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Ryan Maue‏@RyanMaue

Hi-res 2-km Visible imagery shows convective bands in cloud-head of developing F-bomb storm. Gravity waves embedded http://climate.cod.edu/flanis/satellite/2km/index. php?type=Mid_Atlantic-vis-12
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Ryan Maue‏@RyanMaue

Most recent RAP run takes current 1000 mb low off of Virginia to 968 mb in 18-hrs in Gulf of Maine. F-bomb storm. http://twitter.com/RyanMaue/status/285081083651969 025/photo/1
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Coolbaugh Twp, Monroe County, PA, 1760 ft

6:00pm, 25.7F, 4.5" new snow, 7.5" snow depth

Here's a picture I took late this afternoon in the community here of Trout Creek which runs into the big lake.
Member Since: June 11, 2011 Posts: 36 Comments: 677
411. Gaara
Barely 2" here in Milford. Should have gone to work today. Seems like the closer we got to the event, the worse the guidance was.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
4" of new snow here with 6.5-8" on the ground depending on where it drifted/melted more the last couple days. The last band of snow here was very intense with 1-2" of snow accumulating in around a half hour.
Member Since: August 5, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 588
All over here. We ended up with just over 2" of snow. Going down to 28F tonight, so we're watching out for black ice. I'm glad to hear the locals warning people of this. Drive safely, everyone!
Member Since: December 18, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1467
Precipitation shield quickly working North East. Should be over for me in 2-2.5 hours or so. I'll probably end up with about 3" or so. Baro. down to 29.53", winds NW 5-10mph. Temp. is32.5F Will give final total later. Edit, final total for Stamford CT., 3.5"
Member Since: January 31, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 8011
I cant say I ever remember an advisory being added, deleted, and then readded for similar time period as it has today for Long Island. Usually offices are too cautious to get stuck in this type of scenario.

I do remember a bizarre scenario last Halloween though when it was deemed that the precip would fall primarily as rain and then last second they hoisted a Warning for areas along North shore and NYC. That time we ended up getting 0 snow and the city ended up with approx 3".

Anyway I hope we get the 2-4" they now have re projected.

Happy New Years to all!
Member Since: October 29, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 96
Its over here in mullica hill nj all rain
Member Since: October 30, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 45
SL, NJ Sleet started mix w/ rain.
Member Since: February 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 3304
4.1" is the final total here in Linglestown, PA.
Member Since: December 14, 2007 Posts: 285 Comments: 15142
North Broadalbin, NY elev. 810' @ 3pm:
Currently: 26F, 2.75"snow, no wind,-sn.
It started snowing at 9:30am and has been light to moderate since then.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Had a nice coating from a steady snow shower early this morning; has since turned to rain. All snow has melted.

Mt. Holly even took us out of the Winter Wx Advisory.

:(
Member Since: August 28, 2008 Posts: 79 Comments: 3944
On Accuweather's radar, it now shows the rain/snow line already into NYC and Southern Westchester, and moving towards me in SW CT. Maybe as the storm "cranks up" and moves NE, it will pull some colder air back into my area and I'll gets some "wrap around" snow later today or tonight. Edit: it just started snowing lightly again, Baro. down to 29.61" Temperature back down to 33F
Member Since: January 31, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 8011
Well it looks like that odd devil fluctuation has reared its ugly head. Even with the cold air aloft the miami heat has infiltrated with dry air to sap our blizzard hopes once again here at the old nj shore. One math solution called the " NCEP NAM Nest (WRF-4km) " has since the 0z run on the 28 th suggested that a low would center off the 70 W 40 N point and at the same time the CA., EC., and others were sort of in agreement. Oddly the WW3 solution has a C of C just off shore say 73 W. Reports of snow in the mountains of N. Carolina at 0300 this am. So we can see that some parts of the forecast verified eh. Mt Holly called the warm air at 950-925 hpa level which didn't show on the Mesoscale plots. This seems to be part of our issue. We may still see some 1-3 in if the stars align. ( i.e.. NCEP NAM Nest (WRF-4km) ). Temps were borderline cold at that time say 2000 hrs. Concern is always not cold enough for snow, not warm enough for rain, but just nice for ice. We will see.
Member Since: February 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 3304
Quoting TheF1Man:
Precip is still frozen here LT, but it's so light it looks almost like sleet. Can't really tell.

How is the storm verifying with predictions so far Blizz?

The storm looked very poor last night and this morning, but filled in nicely as the coastal low developed. I think my snow map will verify quite well, although will be low for parts of southern New England and the southern tier counties of New York State.
Member Since: December 14, 2007 Posts: 285 Comments: 15142
Precip is still frozen here LT, but it's so light it looks almost like sleet. Can't really tell.

How is the storm verifying with predictions so far Blizz?
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Funny thing here by me. Stamford, Radar shows us entierly in snow, but the precip. has just about come to a stop, and the temp. has risen to 34F . Whats going on?
Member Since: January 31, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 8011
Last bit of light snow moving through here over the next 20 minutes. Last measurement an hour ago was 3.5"
Member Since: December 14, 2007 Posts: 285 Comments: 15142
SL, NJ. Dunes not holding sand. Winds blowing sand on Ocean Ave. Rain since 0600 Steady. Temps in 38-41. Buzz kill looks more organized this pm. If this overcomes building low off Virginia things will dry out here soon. This is already noted in DC above. Ski areas got some relief.
Member Since: February 27, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 3304
Looking at the precipitation shield, its movement and speed, I think my snow will be done about 8pm tonight--unless the precipitation shield grows as the coastal storm really gets going. Right now it is down to 32.4F, light to Moderate snow falling, Barometer down to 29.65" with a very light N to NNE wind. About 1/2 to 3/4 inch of snow on the ground and streets.
Member Since: January 31, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 8011
To All, is pretty much over, the major roads are way better, my cul de sac is better and my driveway and walkway are clear thanks to my two sons. Guessing on the snow totals but I would say at least 4 inches, have not seen official reports but based off my deck railing i cleared after the first storm.

Now its time to enjoy the powder, as always be safe in your travels.
Member Since: January 22, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 551
Quoting listenerVT:
Snow commenced here around 11am, and has been mostly the light snow mist sort. Steady, but not really covering much yet. As we have 16" already on the ground, I'm willing it to stay south. Bummed that it canceled my family's gathering in MA today, but safety first.

PhillySnow ~ Thanks for the well wishes! :-) It was our 40th of engagement. 40th wedding anniversary is exactly one and a half years afterward.

PengSnow ~ Thanks, but I believe it was OriginalLT who commented about the dry slot filling in. So glad it is!!

Blizz ~ Thanks for being here and helping us all watch this storm unfold realtime! I'm thinking that after this one passes through we may need a new thread, as this one is getting nice and heavy. :-)


Sorry Listener by mistake, i was kind of sleepy this early am.
Member Since: January 22, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 551
We're up to 2 inches so far, 33F. A beautiful snow sticking to everything.
Member Since: December 18, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1467
390. bwi
Show's over in DC. Just a coating of rapidly melting slushfall. But better than all rain.
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1599
Started snowing around 12:15. Light-Moderate. Trumbull, CT.
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Snow commenced here around 11am, and has been mostly the light snow mist sort. Steady, but not really covering much yet. As we have 16" already on the ground, I'm willing it to stay south. Bummed that it canceled my family's gathering in MA today, but safety first.

PhillySnow ~ Thanks for the well wishes! :-) It was our 40th of engagement. 40th wedding anniversary is exactly one and a half years afterward.

PengSnow ~ Thanks, but I believe it was OriginalLT who commented about the dry slot filling in. So glad it is!!

Blizz ~ Thanks for being here and helping us all watch this storm unfold realtime! I'm thinking that after this one passes through we may need a new thread, as this one is getting nice and heavy. :-)
Member Since: July 11, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 5729
Just started snowing here in Stamford CT., exactly at 12 noon! Very quickly has become light to moderate in intensity with pretty good sized flakes. Temp. when it started was 33.9F we'll see how it goes down (hopefully)! Wind is NE 5-7mph. Baro. is 29.71" and falling.
Member Since: January 31, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 8011
Arrowhead Lake, Coolbaugh Twp, Monroe County, PA, 1760 ft

12:00pm, 24.9F, Light Snow, 1.5"
Member Since: June 11, 2011 Posts: 36 Comments: 677
385. bwi
We're actually getting a burst of moderate snow now (NE suburbs of DC). It's still not sticking to much of anything, but it sure beats rain! I think I'll ride my bike to the store just for fun...
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1599
It is much much warmer than forecast for NJ/NYC/LI coastal areas.

Interesting is yesterday's forecast discussion they said they were going several degrees cooler than the coldest guidance they could find. They gave no reasoning, just said they were, they did, and it's now 5-8 degrees warmer than they forecast.

Models said warm, no snow, for me... and they went against it and heavily at that. Told us they would.

And...it's warm and wet.

Would be nice to know why they went that way. I am guessing they thought the models were wrong in the phasing timing. Seems they were right all along.

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Looks like radar in southern Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania is starting to fill in, as stated above I guess the temperature will be the key as to what we get. Up here in Huntington,NY were still at 33... not sure if that will hold.
Member Since: October 29, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 96
Quoting originalLT:
Wow, you are quite a bit warmer "P" than we are in Stamford. We are at 33F, after a low of 24F. I guess your old "stomping ground" must be at about 32F now.


Probably, LT, maybe even cooler up on that hill.

We warmed rapidly this morning.

And I doubt this precip coming in is the column cooling kind either.

Rain it is...and we see what happens later. Nothing special it appears.
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In two seconds time up to 41F now with light rain with a couple of wet flakes falling within.

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Finally snowing here! Yay! A steady, moderate snow, and it's sticking. Now it's up to the temps to stay low, which is by no means certain.
Member Since: December 18, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1467
Wow, you are quite a bit warmer "P" than we are in Stamford. We are at 33F, after a low of 24F. I guess your old "stomping ground" must be at about 32F now.
Member Since: January 31, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 8011
About 2 hours ago had some clouds go overhead with the classic sleet signature. Since then very very fine needles only visible by staring at the neighbor's black roof were almost making it to the ground. Now we have the finest of sprinkles and drips.

But we have gone up to 39F.

Tinton Falls, NJ, and we're inland where we usually get snow if the coast is borderline or rain. Not this time.

We'll see what happens when the whole mess pulls out later today if we get a couple of inches of the back side.

No telling given the high bust factor of the modeling and forecasting for this particular region.
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NWS bumped me up to 4.5-5.0 expected, will see what happens. Will take pretty much anything after being left out a few days ago!
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Quoting HeavySnow:
Graupel is not soft hail. The way sleet and graupel form is a totally different mechanism from hail. Were you in a thunderstorm?
Graupel is a type of snow.
I looked it up and the definition of graupel from several sources is "snow pellets or soft hail." No worries - I don't care what we call it. It fits this definition - round white pellets that an hour later are still right there in their original shape. They're a little soft to the touch, white and icy.

Nothing else falling from the sky.
Member Since: December 18, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1467
375. bwi
OK I take back the poo comment. Pretty changeable weather: 2 hours ago we had sunbreaks, a half hour ago rain, now snow. I don't have an accurate thermometer outside, but I'd guess the temp at 35 degree -- it's not sticking yet, even to wood surfaces or cars. Still, nice to look at.
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1599
These accumulations are lined up pretty well.

11z HRRR, 6am to 9pm today


6z GFS, 1am Saturday to 1am Sunday


6z NAM, 1am Saturday to 1am Sunday
Member Since: June 11, 2011 Posts: 36 Comments: 677
Moderate sleet and snow in Annandale, VA now.
Member Since: July 7, 2004 Posts: 18 Comments: 2998
nm
Member Since: June 11, 2011 Posts: 36 Comments: 677
Quoting PhillySnow:
Graupel is soft hail, so that's probably what it was. I know sleet intimately, and it wasn't sleet. lol

Come on snow!
Graupel is not soft hail. The way sleet and graupel form is a totally different mechanism from hail. Were you in a thunderstorm?
Graupel is a type of snow.
Member Since: July 7, 2004 Posts: 18 Comments: 2998
370. bwi
Rain. poo
Member Since: September 4, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 1599
Thanks LT for the explanation on the formation of large flakes. I have noticed they usually form the beginning and the end of an event.

There's quite a bit of snow here in da Burgh this morning. We had about 3" on the ground left over from the previous storm. This storm has brought us reports of 2 to 3 additional inches so far according to the mets. We are expecting another 2" before it's over. Currently light fine snow falling. I need a gas snow blower. My electric one doesn't do a whole lot.

Ollie the aussie is thrilled with his winter playground of fresh white. He refused to come in when I called him.

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Arrowhead Lake, Coolbaugh Twp, Monroe County, PA, 1760 ft

9:30am, 23.2F, Light Snow

Dry slot just closed in a few minutes ago. Coating of accumulation so far. I'm going against the NWS and expecting 2" here rather than the 3"-5"
Member Since: June 11, 2011 Posts: 36 Comments: 677
Quoting HeavySnow:
That was sleet or maybe graupel but not hail.

Come on snow!
Graupel is soft hail, so that's probably what it was. I know sleet intimately, and it wasn't sleet. lol

Come on snow!
Member Since: December 18, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1467
Quoting PhillySnow:
We just had a burst of hail. (Media, PA) That was interesting. Now nothing again.
That was sleet or maybe graupel but not hail.

Come on snow!
Member Since: July 7, 2004 Posts: 18 Comments: 2998
We just had a burst of hail. (Media, PA) That was interesting. Now nothing again.
Member Since: December 18, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1467

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