Why Storms Bust

Comments on Tuesday's "bust", and Tonight's storm

February 1, 2015

The vast majority of "busts" happen because of non-forecasted shifts in a storm's track. Most of our major storms are coastal ones that have tight snow gradients —easily 2 feet over 50 miles. So an non-forecast shift of just 50 to 75 miles is enough to create a "bust"… essentially what happened on Tuesday across eastern New York. However, busts across are area are not common at all, and prior to this week, the last major one was in December 2009 when 5 to 10 inches was generally forecast leading up to the storm, but Kingston only picked up 0.2 inches.

That being said… for this storm there is much more confidence in significant impacts compared to last week's. First off, nearly all the guidance models are in agreement of a significant event; last week they were split in to two separate groups. Second, this storm's snow gradient will not be anywhere near as tight as most of the nor'easters that we see; the current projected gradient is only about 12 inches spread over about 100 miles… far less than the 24 inch to 50 miles in some of the nor'easters. Third, even if the storm does shift, Ulster County is currently toward the middle of the higher snow totals —even a 50 to 75 mile track shift should still result in at least 6 inches or so.

The other important impact aspect is history. When you compare the current atmospheric conditions in Poughkeepsie vs the 100+ year historical record of similar conditions, the archive indicates that this should be a significant event of at least 8 inches. This technique is not an actual forecast, but rather shows what has happened in the pasts. For comparison, during Tuesday's storm the historical record was showing 6 or so inches across northern Jersey while all the actual forecasts were calling for 12 to 20. Jersey ended up with maximum totals of around 7 inches. So, this technique does hold weight.

Overall, I am not saying that we're definitely going to break a foot, but am personally looking for at least 7 inches across the Mid Hudson Valley.

Also, to demonstrate how imminent the storm really is, here is the latest national satellite… the storm already exists, and on a large scale at that— it's not like three's really a question of "will it develop?" or "will it impact us?". The question is "how strongly will it impact us?"

Link to radar loop: http://www.weather.gov/Radar


Past Kingstonsnows Extras

"Surges of cold air" - January 30, 2015
"The Season So Far" - January 25, 2015
"Freezing Rain vs Sleet" - November 16, 2014
"The Season So Far" - February 17, 2014
"Groundhog's Day" - February 02, 2014
"Spring Break Outlook" - January 03, 2014
"The Big Picture" - December 30, 2013
"The Big Picture" - December 10, 2013

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