Snow, Ice Expected As Temps Plunge

The recent spike in warm weather will quickly fade this evening as a winter storm warning has been issued for the weekend.

The warm weather skyrocketed into the high 50s on Thursday and were expected to again today, but tonight a massive drop in temperature will likely bring slick road conditions, the Buffalo National Weather Service warned.

David Thomas, meteorologist with the weather service, said the warm weather was a result of humid air in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Florida being swooped up the east coast.

“We’re seeing a very amplified pattern where the jet stream is dipping down right to the Gulf of Mexico, tapping into this warmer air, more humid air and bringing it northward,” Thomas told The Post-Journal.

He said that similar weather activities have resulted in a three-pronged cycle. First, the temperature increases unusual highs for Western New York, and Thomas said “near record warmth” is being observed throughout the area.

“Upper 50s around 60 (degrees) for the highs today has melted much of the snow,” he said.

The second aspect of the warm weather is the emergence of rain and then subsequent flooding. One of the concerns Thomas described was waterways that are still frozen causing problems. He said the ice tends to break off and create “ice-dams” in creeks that are already flowing higher due to melting snow and rainfall causing the water to rise up over the banks.

The third act in an otherwise unusual climate shift is the cold weather sneaking back into Western New York. The temperature will drop back into the below freezing range which will cause slick road conditions, according to Thomas.

“A very strong cold front is moving across the great lakes region,” Thomas said.

The winter warning lasts through 1 p.m. Saturday.

“The worst part is, at first rain changing to sleet which will be (in the afternoon), and then heavy snow for (the evening) through Saturday morning,” he said.

Thomas warned that the storm will be differ from lake-effect snow where the amount of snow will vary depending on location. He said the upcoming storm will be “wide spread snow.”

“This isn’t going to be lake-effect where one town might get 3 feet and the next town over only gets 6 inches,” he said. “We’re looking for wide spread 6 to 12 inches of snow for the entire Southern tier and at first it’s going to be wet snow, which when combined with the freezing rain and sleet, is going to make for very slick roads.”

Thomas said that with lake-effect weather the snow tends to be “dryer and fluffier,” but noted that roads will be much more difficult to drive on with the upcoming weather.

Thomas said that next week will return to “winter time arctic cold,” but noted that it won’t be as cold as it was around New Years Day.