Major winter storm approaches: What you need to know

Weather Blog

ROCHESTER, NY (WROC) — Some are preparing for what will be a storm to bring feet of snow by the weekend for some while others will see barely an inch or two.

We break it all down here with regular updates.

4 PM WEDNESDAY UPDATE: Heavy rain approaches from the south. Temperatures across Western and Central New York are in the 30s and low 40s. Expect rain to overspread the area and become heavy at times through the next several hours.

2 PM WEDNESDAY UPDATE: Blizzard warnings have been issued for Wyoming County.

12 PM WEDNESDAY UPDATE: A light drizzle this afternoon as a large and broad low pressure system approaches. Snow is spread from southern Illinois to the Adirondacks. The low will deepen rapidly through this evening and rain. See below for impacts and updates.

OVERVIEW: This storm system has finally come together to what will be a complex and multi-faceted winter storm with wind, rain, snow, and big differences in accumulation. A rapidly deepening trough overhead will deepen and strengthen the surface low through Wednesday night. So rapid that it will drop at least 24 hectopascals (hPa or millibars, mb) in 24 hours. This is also known as bombogenesis. This will be a bomb cyclone. While heavy snow is expected south of Buffalo and east of Lake Ontario, all will see a strong and potentially damaging wind through Thursday that will have the biggest impact.

NWS BUFFALO: There are several watches, warnings, and advisories up for the region. As of 2:00PM

WINTER STORM WARNING < 10pm Wednesday – 1pm Thursday > Genesee and Orleans County

BLIZZARD WARNING < 10pm Wednesday – 4pm Friday > Wyoming County

WINTER WX ADVISORY <4am Thursday – 4am Friday > Monroe, Livingston, and Ontario County

WINTER STORM WATCH < Friday Afternoon – Saturday Afternoon > Wayne County

A myriad of watches, warnings, and advisories are in place from the NWS Buffalo office.


WEDNESDAY 1PM-8PM: Just a light drizzle is expected as the storm continues to gather. Once the low pressure system crests into Pennsylvania, rain is expected for most.

WEDNESDAY 8PM-2AM: This is when the surface low is moving through New York State and rapidly deepening. Expect heavy rain during this time. Colder air will start to wrap around the low and rain will transition over to snow by the end of this period from west to east.

Temperatures will need to drop below freezing Thursday morning before accumulating snow forms.

THURSDAY 2AM-8AM: A wet snow will slowly replace the rain showers from Buffalo to Rochester. Temperatures may be stubborn during this time, holding at 34° or 33° before dropping to 32° and below. This will prevent significant accumulation around Rochester and the Finger Lakes. In fact many areas in Monroe County may only see a slushy inch or two. The fleeting moisture will still be in place while temperatures get below freezing west of Rochester and that will allow for several inches accumulation closer to the Niagara Frontier by the end of this period. WIND: Expect strong winds to develop through the morning with gusts nearing 40-50 mph at times. This may cause some isolated outages.

THURDAY 8AM-2PM: The storm system will continue to lift northward and allow colder air to pour across the region. At this point there will not be less moisture and lift in place, so more sporadic snow showers are expected. Lake-effect snow showers are expected to start to slowly pick up. Temperatures continue to drop and it will get icy in spots. WIND: Continued strong winds will be noticed for many through this period with a minor concern for some outages.

Winds will ramp up significantly as the storm strengthens in the afternoon. While most of the precipitation will be over, wind will become another threat.

THURSDAY 2PM-2AM: Lake-effect snow showers develop both east of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. The bands of snow really start to get going. Blizzard conditions east of both lakes.

FRIDAY 2AM-2PM: Heavy snow east of Lake Erie and Ontario. A long band of snow meanders southward across the 104 corridor and brings several inches accumulation through Rochester that could cause tough travel for some. Cold air sets in and wind chills hold in the lower teens and single digits.

Bitter cold air sets in Friday and into the weekend.

FRIDAY 2PM-2AM: Cold air dominates and so do significant lake-effect snow bands east of Erie and Ontario. By this point there will be feet on the ground in some of these areas.

SATURDAY 2AM-2PM: Snow showers slowly taper off and temperatures climb up closer to average.

Looking ahead to the commutes, Thursday morning and Friday morning will be the toughest.

IMPACTS: The main bout of area-wide snow will be focused west of Rochester with minor impacts across Monroe County. Commuters from Wyoming, Genesee, and Orleans Counties will run into major issues on roadways Thursday morning. Blizzard conditions are expected later in the day once the lake-effect snow bands set up.

Winds are going to be felt by all and any snow that had accumulated will become blowing snow by Thursday afternoon. Wind gusts will near 40-50 mph for nearly 12 hours through Thursday.

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