Spring flakes flying: an update on this weekend’s polar plunge

Weather Blog

ROCHESTER, NY (WROC) – In a previous blog post the impressive, May cold snap currently unfolding in front of us was discussed. Forgive me for stating the obvious when I say, the spring warmth is still nowhere to be found, at least in the short term. Let’s take a look at our updated forecast and compare it to the records: 

Unfortunately, we did not break any records for today (Friday May 8th, 2020.) The record low was set at 29℉ with the record low high at 39℉. The low temperature for the day ended up being 31℉ and the high peaked at 42℉. Here are the May temperature records compared to our current forecast for Saturday and Sunday:

As we continue our dive into the polar plunge this weekend, it seems that our best chances to break any temperature records for the month of May will be tomorrow (Saturday May 9th, 2020).

We will also be receiving some spring snowflakes heading into Saturday. We even saw some flakes fly in Rochester this afternoon! Fun fact: the last time Rochester saw measurable snow in May was 10 years ago in 2010 where we received (0.4”).

Tomorrow’s forecast is definitely one you do not see too often in the month of May. Not only will we wake up to temperatures in the 20s and 30s with highs barely making it into the 40s, but several models have been hinting at some scattered snow squalls throughout the afternoon. Here’s a look at the RPM model tomorrow at 3:00 PM. Notice the multiple blobs of blue showing up, with hints of some green as well. We’ll be looking at chances for both a mix of rain and snow showers, but also a few scattered snow and graupel squalls that have the potential to significantly drop visibility for a brief period. 

Not everyone will see these heavy squalls, but there’s a decent chance some of us will. Here’s a look at a 12z atmospheric sounding from the NAM NEST on weather.cod/edu just southwest of Rochester.

If you’re unfamiliar with soundings this may not make much sense at first, but looking at this shows that lapse rates are steep and dry adiabatic, which means the atmosphere will have enough instability, or lift in the air to support snow squalls. When the green and red lines line up the way they are above, it means that the air is saturated with respect to ice indicating a mostly frozen type of precipitation. Daytime heating combined with such cold air aloft will help fuel these convective snow showers throughout the day on Saturday.

There is a glimmer of hope in our future! The most recent 8-10 day outlook by the CPC has us at equal chances of seeing above or below average temperatures shown by the gray color on the map. The yellow star on the image below indicates most of western NY where we are located. Even though it’s not promising us definitive warmth, it most certainly seems like a light at the end of the tunnel with temperatures forecasted to be in the 50s and low 60s by late next week.

Models are always subject to change, but at least the temperatures seem to be trending in the desired direction.

~Meteorologist Christine Gregory

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