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Historic Christmas Lake Effect Blizzard


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* WHAT...A rapid switch from rain to snow with sharply falling
  temperatures into the teens and single digits will result in a
  flash freeze on Friday. From Friday afternoon through most of
  the weekend, very strong winds, heavy lake effect snow and
  significant blowing and drifting snow will be possible. Winds
  could gust as high as 65 mph Friday into Friday night. Localized
  blizzard conditions are possible.

* WHERE...Niagara, Orleans, Erie, Genesee, Wyoming, Chautauqua,
  and Cattaraugus counties.

* WHEN...From Friday morning through Monday morning.

* IMPACTS...Travel for the holiday weekend, including Friday,
  could be very difficult to impossible at times. Areas of
  blowing snow could significantly reduce visibility with
  whiteouts and localized blizzard conditions possible. The most
  persistent and worst conditions will be where lake effect snow
  is most widespread, which is still uncertain at this time.
  Winds this strong could cause tree damage and power outages.
  Cold wind chills as low as 10 to 20 below zero this weekend
  could cause frostbite on exposed skin in as little as 30
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...Once in a Generation Winter Storm to Slam the Region Heading into
and THROUGH the Christmas Weekend...

Old Man Winter will unleash the full fury of winter upon our region
during this period...as an extremely amplified longwave pattern will
spawn one of the most intense storm systems in decades to impact the
Mid West and Great Lakes region. This system will likely end up
setting low pressure records once it passes north of the border and
will have the potential to generate at LEAST storm force winds over
the Lower Great lakes.

As if the very real threat for damaging winds of 60-70 mph were not
enough...there will also be the risk for a prolonged...paralyzing
heavy lake effect snow event. The very strong to damaging winds,
blowing and drifting snow with localized blizzard conditions
preceded by a rapid flash freeze all coming right before the
Christmas holiday weekend resulted in a *long duration* winter storm
watch being issued for western NY. A Winter Storm Watch has also now
been issued for Jefferson and Lewis county from midday Friday
through Monday. While heavy lake effect snows have already occurred
this winter season...this will be the first event with multiple
impacts from such intense winds. Winter storm watches are already in
effect for parts of western New York with the high component wrapped
into the same product.

An extremely amplified longwave pattern during this period will
spawn one of the most intense storm systems in decades to impact the
Mid West and Great Lakes region. This system will likely end up
setting low pressure records once it passes north of the border and
will have the potential to generate storm force winds over the Lower
Great lakes.

Explosive cyclogenesis will take place over the mid western states
into southern Ontario on Friday...as an anomalously strong 150kt H25
jet will pass through the base of a very deep longwave trough. This
will support rapid deepening of a corresponding sfc low that will
track southern Ontario by late Friday. The `bombing` low will deepen
from roughly 990mb in the vcnty of Lake Erie/Lower Michigan late
Thursday night...to 982mb over southernmost Ontario Friday morning
to about 968mb near the Ontario-Quebec border by Friday evening...
easily meeting the definition of bombogenesis (24mb/24hrs). Such
deepening is relatively rare in the LOWER Great lakes...but more
common across the UPPER Great Lakes and certainly with Nor`easters
along the coast. Some of the parameters of this intense storm are
climatologically `off the charts`...such as MSLP and strength of
both the low level and upper level jets. One could certainly
describe this storm system as a once in a generation type of event.
Subtle differences remain...but there remains general model
agreement in the overall large scale scenario...which adds

The rapidly intensifying low is forecast to pass just to our west on
Friday. Winds will ramp up in the cold air advection and during when
max pressure rise/fall couplet crosses. This is about as good as it
gets in terms of maximizing winds/gusts to the sfc. Several guidance
packages are now advertising wind gusts over the IAG Frontier to
near 60 mph late in the day as another intense 70kt LLJ enters the
region. This is NOT when the strongest winds are expected though.
That is yet to come.

In regards to pcpn on Friday...the strong winds will open the door
for MUCH colder air to pour across our forecast area. This will
result in a RAPID change over of the rain to snow with deep
frontogenetic forcing leading to a burst of moderately heavy snow
that will yield accumulations of several inches expected by late
afternoon. Temperatures that will start the day in the low to mid
40s in most areas will PLUMMET into the single digits across the
Srn Tier by the end of the day...while readings will range from the
teens across the remainder of wrn NY to the lower 30s east of Lake
Ontario. This dramatic plunge in temperatures will likely result in
a flash freeze of the snow/water/slush.

As the extremely deep storm system further deepens in place over the
Ontario-Quebec border Friday night...a strong secondary cold
front/sfc trough will plow across our forecast area. This will be
accompanied by the second 70kt low level jet that...being found in
the cold sector...should largely mix to the sfc at times. The threat
for high winds at the sfc will be greatest in the typical corridor
from Lake Erie and the IAG Frontier to Rochester and then to the
Thousand Island region. Increased winds some in these corridors.
Power outages will be a concern as will be blowing snow and drifting

The widespread synoptic snow during the first half of Friday night
should then taper off as the deepest forcing exits and limited
drying arrives in the mid levels. Meanwhile...a 230-240 flow of -20c
H85 air will promote an area of lake snow to become established
Buffalo northward...across IAG and the Northtowns. The snow...
whether it be synoptic or lake induced in nature...will be blown
around by +50 mph winds so significant blowing and drifting can be
anticipated along with near zero visibility and at least localized
blizzard conditions. As is typically the case...the very strong
southwest flow will also shove a great deal of water up to the
Buffalo end of Lk Erie...so lakeshore flooding will be a
possibility. More specifics on that in the lakeshore flooding

A very tight sfc pressure gradient will remain in place across our
forecast area on the day before Christmas...so while the winds
should diminish as bit by way of a weaker LLJ especially later in
the day, they will still be strong enough to possibly cause issues
and certainly to support continued blowing snow. Models have trended
a bit quicker with veering of winds, to more of 240-250 flow so that
more of the Buffalo Metro would be impacted by lake snows Saturday
into Saturday night with the visibility remaining near zero at times
within the band. It will be quite cold with Saturdays highs ranging
from the single digits over the Srn Tier to the teens and low 20s
elsewhere resulting wind chills falling to as low as 10 to 20
degrees below zero.
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Lakeshore flood warnings issued


* WHAT...Significant lakeshore flooding expected. The lake level
  at Buffalo may exceed 11 feet above low water datum which would
  be more than 3 feet above flood stage.

* WHERE...Niagara, Erie, and Chautauqua counties.

* WHEN...From 7 AM Friday to 7 PM EST Saturday.
* IMPACTS...The rapid rise in water levels will result in
  SIGNIFICANT lakeshore flooding along the Lake Erie and Upper
  Niagara River shores. Along the Lake Erie shore, flooding is
  likely along Route 5 in Hamburg, Buffalo Harbor, Canalside,
  Buffalo Riverworks, Dunkirk Harbor, Hoover Beach in Hamburg, Old
  First ward in South Buffalo, and other flood prone locations.
  Along the Upper Niagara River, flooding is likely to affect
  Grand Island, Cayuga Island, and beneath the North Grand Island
  bridge at the Lasalle Expressway ramps. Very high wave action
  will also result in significant shoreline erosion.
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So I think I’m headed up!!

I have enough PTO time etc. Timing is bit of an issue. I work tonight until around 12-1, gotta wake up early get some food for the trip. Stock up emergency stuff. Im coming from Philadelphia so about 6 hour trip I imagine. Probably drive through some bad weather in NY state but should make it with plenty of time.

Any hotel recommendations or locations in general at this stage?


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I can't believe I have another forecast like this

Rain before 9am, then snow. High near 41. Wind chill values as low as -10. Windy, with a southwest wind 17 to 27 mph increasing to 27 to 37 mph in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 55 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow accumulation of 3 to 5 inches possible.
Friday Night
Snow. The snow could be heavy at times. Areas of blowing snow. Low around 11. Very windy, with a southwest wind 38 to 41 mph, with gusts as high as 60 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%.
Snow. The snow could be heavy at times. Areas of blowing snow. High near 16. Windy. Chance of precipitation is 90%.
Saturday Night
Snow. The snow could be heavy at times. Areas of blowing snow. Low around 14. Windy. Chance of precipitation is 90%.
Christmas Day
Snow. The snow could be heavy at times. Areas of blowing snow. High near 18. Breezy. Chance of precipitation is 90%.
Sunday Night
Snow likely. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 12. Breezy. Chance of precipitation is 60%.
Snow showers likely, mainly before 1pm. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 23. Chance of precipitation is 60%.
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