By Chris Gilberti | February 20, 2023
After the brief cold snap just a few weeks ago that sent temperatures plummeting well below zero in Albany, temperatures have skyrocketed to become more typical of late March or April than mid-February. Just this past Wednesday Feb. 15, Albany International Airport smashed its high temperature record for the day of 55 degrees Fahrenheit after reaching a balmy 64 degrees Fahrenheit.
American model simulation (2/19 12Z) for possible winter storm Wednesday Feb. 22 Photo Credit: Pivotal Weather
The days surrounding remained well above average with many days in the upper 40’s and 50’s. With the snow all melting and temperatures more typical of April, many will put winter in their rear-view mirror. Past experience however tells us a February warm-up does not quite mean an early spring. With the winter season not ending until March 20, there is still plenty of time left for a pattern change that could spell a cold/snowy March, and we are already seeing a signal that this change could be coming.
There is no hiding the fact that this winter has been an upsetting one for snow lovers in Albany and across the Northeast. The stubborn ridge in the jet stream that has been set up over the northeast has meant an oversupply of warm air for any potential snowstorms to contend with. Even when a snowstorm begins to track across the country, the jet stream pattern has been tending to bring the storms off to our west, leaving us on the warm and rainy side.
Weather model trends have also been making it difficult to forecast these winter storms. On the rare occasion a potential coastal snowstorm is picked up by forecast models, it has been the trend this season to move it further and further inland until it shows Albany within the storm’s warm sector a few days before its arrival.
These trends make it hard to say if/when this pattern will break up in time for the end of winter. Models are currently showing a pattern change after yet another so-called “inside runner” that brings snow only to the upper Midwest and extreme inland areas before bringing rain with perhaps limited snow/ice to Albany next weekend. Beyond one week model reliability is low so there is only low-confidence in a potential pattern change here, but if current model solutions hold and observations from past warm February’s ring true, it could finally spell a change to colder/snowier weather.
Turning to the forecast for this week, there is the chance that the pattern change takes hold rather quickly. For the storm moving through the region on Wednesday, its track will likely be once again far inland, bringing mostly rain to the northeast. Before it arrives though, it is possible that just enough cold air could be in place to bring with it a brief period of snow before an increase in temperatures and change over to rain.
Climate Prediction Center Forecast for Risk of Heavy Snow across the U.S. from Feb. 25-28.
Photo Credit: NOAA Climate Prediction Center
Following this storm, more seasonably cold, arctic air should filter in setting the stage for following storms to bring snow. This has led the climate prediction center to issue a slight risk of heavy snow for the northeast US including Albany, following that storm after Feb. 25. This is not the first time models have hinted at a cold and snowy pattern, though previous times it has been incorrect. With the storm ushering in this possible wintry pattern just a few days away, it is possible this particular event holds some more credence. In any case, it is always best to be prepared, as it is usually never smart to bet against winter in Albany.