Winter set to come roaring back?

Weather Stories

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Feeling like this has been a “weird” Winter? To some extent, you’d be right.

Let me hit you with some numbers: Today marked the 24th straight day Rochester’s temperature has exceeded the freezing mark. Put another way, we haven’t had a single day where our high temperature was below freezing since December 20th. We even had a record high of 64 degrees a few days ago. Our average high is 32, and we’ve been above that for 24 straight days. That’s an impressive streak.

Then there’s the snow aspect. Rochester has seen nearly 50″ of snow on the season thus far, nearly 10″ more than normal. From the surface, it looks like Winter is doing just fine. But digging deeper, the “weirdness” emerges. Most of that snow fell in November and the first half of December. It seems like as soon as the first official day of Winter arrived, Mother Nature went MIA with the snow. More than 80% of our seasonal snow fell in Fall. Our warm stretch during the Winter weeks has largely resulted in a lull in the snowfall.

Consider this too- Rochester hasn’t seen a BIG (6″+) snow since the November 11-12 storm that essentially opened our snow season. Those who make a few extra bucks in the plow business can attest to just how quiet it’s been for awhile.

So what gives? Well, it’s not uncommon for Winter to have it’s ups & downs. They get averaged out in the end. This recent spell of warmth has largely been the result of a persistent ridge across the eastern half of the country, sort of like what we have right now:

The atmosphere operates like a seesaw. Often, when one side goes up the other comes down. Colder air has been shunted to the western half of the United States with true arctic air bottled up north of the border. This pattern has been stubborn and persistent, and it’s not unusual to see something like this settle in for an extended stay. But, it’s never permanent. Once these patterns flip, they can flip hard, allowing the seesaw to swing in the other direction, like this:

Colder air is coming for the second half of January

There are signals that point toward colder air becoming established across the eastern half of the country toward the end of the month. While I wouldn’t call this a significant arctic outbreak, it’s the kind of colder snap that will help offset this recent warmth when we step back and look at January as a whole. And yes, this is likely to correlate with a return of snowier conditions.

WHEN WILL IT SNOW? I think we’re going to get a pair of opportunities in the next week. The first arrives early Thursday as a quick & weak low scoots by. Light accumulations will be possible, but it’s not a big deal. The system arriving Saturday promises to be more intriguing in the snow department. That storm is deeper, more potent. Depending on the exact track, heavy snowfall accumulations could be possible across parts of western New York.

If nothing else, this weekend system can be thought of as the harbinger of more typical January weather to come as signs point to this warm January thaw breaking down.

Chief Meteorologist Eric Snitil

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