It has happened before, and it will happen again. Snow in October I mean. This will probably be somewhat overhyped, given that it is October, but still…this is a very, very impressive storm for this time of year. And given that it’s coming on the heels of a storm that’s currently producing snow in parts of Upstate NY and New England, it makes it somewhat more impressive. So with that said, the computer models we look at have come into much better agreement today with a coastal low developing Saturday and bringing absolutely miserable weather to the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. College games may be more entertaining than usual, with Illinois at Penn State and West Virginia at Rutgers (which has seen snow and/or cold rain occur on several of their past meetings…some of which have occurred in December, not October…so blame the NCAA I guess for this).
Anyway, for most of the Big Cities, this will be a cold, miserable rain. Temps starting the day in the upper 30s or lower 40s will fall into the mid 30s….with rain. At times when the rain is heaviest, there may be some wet snowflakes coming down, but accumulation should be nil. Philly and Baltimore could run the risk of a coating in a few grassy spots. But nothing more than that I don’t think.
That’s the higher confidence part of the forecast. It gets lower as you get outside the cities. This is very sensitive to the final track of the storm. We have one shorter term model that insists this thing is going out to sea and being a waste. Fortunately, it’s one of our most unreliable models, so I’m not putting much stock into that right now. The GFS and Euro models…the two bigger boys…are both suggesting a coastal low and producing some rather impressive snow amounts at rather low elevations. There is some risk that the immediate N & W suburbs of NYC and Philly do better in this storm than we might think. This is very out of season obviously, so my gut is to use slightly more rigorous thresholds for snow to accumulate (especially given that you’ve had nary a freeze this year thus far in most areas). But the further north and west you go, the better you should do. I’m up to 3″ at most right now, but there is some potential if the air mass is a little colder or the storm a little further west that these amounts could be a bit higher.
The main area of concern is the northern Lehigh Valley into the Poconos and Northwest Jersey, then into the Catskills and Berkshires, as well as parts of northern Connecticut and central Massachusetts. Provided the storm track stays near where it is now, I think 3-6″ is likely in these areas, with higher amounts a very good possibility as you go up in elevation. This sort of snow is somewhat unimpressive, but given it’s October and many trees are still leafed, a little bit of gusty wind could cause a lot of problems with a very heavy, wet snow coating trees/power lines. So this is why this storm is somewhat of a concern and of interest.
A couple things to keep in the back of your mind: It’s October and it is not easy to accumulate snow this time of year. There are many factors working against it. But this may be the rare instance where it works really well. Secondly, the final storm track will obviously be what determines who gets what. The models have been…for lack of a better word…awful the last few weeks. So there is some risk that they may be flat out wrong. But, given past experience, typical biases, and recent trends, this is where we stand 48 hours before it occurs.
So stay tuned…I may not draw up another snow map for this event, but this is a good jumping off point. Enjoy this first taste of winter!