By THIS Winter’s Standards, Pretty Wintry Event enrouteJanuary 12th, 2012 at 2:15 pm by Don Paul under 4 Warn Weather
A sharp arctic cold front will usher in very gusty winds by dawn, and change a mixture to all snow by the start of the Friday AM commute. What would be merely a modest snowfall will be complicated by the strong winds, producing considerable blowing snow and potential whiteouts. As the cold air begins to deepen during Friday, the snow will begin to take on a lighter density, making it easier to be whipped up by the winds. Most of what falls on the Niagara Frontier will be part of a broad/”synoptic” snowfall covering the region on Friday, rather than a narrow band of Lake Effect. The temperature difference between the warm Lake Erie surface and the atmosphere up to about a mile in altitude won’t be great enough to make for the narrow, convective band of true lake effect. However, some of Lk Erie’s moisture may enhance the general snowfall on the Niagara Frontier, especially through midday–that’s called Lake Enhancement, rather than actual Lake Effect. SW winds in the AM should average 20-30 mph with gusts to 45. The winds will turn Westerly during the afternoon, at 20-30 with gusts to about 40. Snowfall rates will be lighter in the afternoon, but there will still be problems from Blowing Snow–some Whiteouts will likely occur, especially in open country. Late in the day and overnight, some modest Lake Effect snow will finally develop as the atmosphere aloft cools further. Most of this lake snow will focus on the hilly terrain of Ski Country and the srn tier.
A preliminary estimate of general snow accumulations for the Niagara Frontier for Friday is 2-4″, with a little more on the hills to the south by later in the day. But it must again be emphasized this modest snow accumulation will be complicated by the strong winds. The hilly terrain may see amounts of 4-7″ by Saturday AM. Saturday’s high temps will range from the teens to near 20, and Saturday night will be one of the colder nights of the season–especially if clearing develops. It looks like only some flurries or lt snow shwrs will be around for parts of a seasonably cold Sunday.