Over the past two days, social media has been abuzz with lots of hype that several long range computer models are showing a potential coastal storm during the middle to latter portion of next week. Indications in some models show that a blast of arctic air will arrive in the eastern United States and a trough of low pressure in the upper atmosphere will become cut-off, slinging a coastal storm up the east coast and throwing copious amounts of precipitation back into the cold air across portions of the mid-Atlantic and northeast. There is a lot of uncertainly with this solution!
What we do know for sure is that the cold air is coming. A blast of arctic air will drop south out of Canada next week sending unseasonably cold temperatures into much of the eastern United States. High temperatures across upstate New York are forecast to struggle to reach 40 degrees on Tuesday, and not get out of the 30′s on Wednesday. What we don’t know is how exactly the computer models are handling the features that will or will not cause a storm to develop on the coast. The current features are over data sparse regions of the north Pacific Ocean and that is why meteorologists must use extreme caution when looking at what solutions the computer models spew out. In addition, it is mid-November and a lot of factors must come together just right for snow to fall and accumulate.
At this time of year, climatology would favor higher elevations seeing accumulating snowfall, but the verdict is up in the air for valley and coastal regions. One must look at past history to give an idea of how plausible this is to happening. In the past two years, portions of the mid-Atlantic and northeast have seen accumulating snowfall before Thanksgiving, so it can happen.
Looking at historical records in Albany, there have been two significant historical snow events with accumulating snow in October. (October 4, 1987 & October 29, 2011). In November, things seem to ramp up quickly as there are three years where more than 20 inches of snow fell in the month (1886, 1971, & 1972). The record November monthly snowfall in Albany is 24.6″ in 1972. 16 of 30 days in November have daily snowfall records of over 4 inches, the record highest of 21.8″ on November 25, 1971. So it has happened before and can certainly happen again.
With all that begin said and no hype utilized, this scenario is certainly something to watch, but extreme caution must be used any time with regards to long range computer model data, especially in November! Expect a lot of flip flopping to continue on the models and meteorologists to be pulling their hair out over the next week…stay tuned!
Any weather-related decisions should always be made after consulting proper statements and forecasts from the National Weather Service.