By Chris Gilberti | January 30, 2023
Weather balloon launch at UAlbany ETEC to monitor Jan. 23 winter storm conditions for NASA IMPACTS Field Campaign
Photo Credit: Christopher Gilberti / The ASP
The Spring Semester is now well underway, as is the winter season with multiple snowfall events and cold air settling in since the start of classes. All classes at the university were taught remotely Monday Jan. 23, and Wednesday Jan. 25 due to two separate snow storms that brought multiple inches of snow and icy conditions. After some more scattered snow showers this past weekend, colder air is filtering in, sending temperatures into single digits overnight, and only up to the 20’s during the daytime through this week. Temperatures this week are expected to remain solidly below average, which could also provide cold air necessary for any new storms that develop to drop more snow over the Capital Region.
Climate Prediction Center forecast high likelihood of below average temps in next 6-10 days
Photo Credit: Climate Prediction Center
Though snow and cold are making a statement as we move into Feb., that has been far from the norm for the season so far. In Albany, temperatures in Jan. have been as high as 8.5 degrees above the 30 year climatological average. Additionally, there have not been any days where high temperatures did not make it above 30 degrees this month, and if this Tuesday, Jan. 31 reaches 30 degrees or above, it would be the first time since records began that the month of January had highs above 30 degrees every single day of the month.
Of course with the lack of cold air has also been a lack of snowfall for many. At the beginning of the season, there was a lot of talk about there being another La Niña pattern (cooler than average Pacific Ocean temperatures). This has occurred the last few years in a row which is quite abnormal, but has also had different impacts on our local weather depending on the year. Because the temperatures of the Pacific impact the pattern of the jet stream (strong winds well above the surface), the tracks of snow storms, or often in our case, rain storms, are greatly affected.
The way the jet stream has been set up for much of the winter so far has led to troughs bringing cold air mostly just to our west. Since storm tracks follow this jet pattern, most storms brought snow only to parts of the Midwest and Canada, while New York often ended up on the warm, eastern side with too little cold air to support snow. Even further west though, this pattern is what allowed persistent atmospheric rivers to set up over California, greatly reducing drought impacts there, so at least for snow lovers, the lack of Northeast snow is for a good cause.
Of course, as in any winter season, there have been some winners and some losers in terms of snowfall so far. Albany is actually not too far behind where it normally is at this point in the season considering how warm it has been, with a total of 23.2”, about 6.3” below the normal of 29.5”.
Some other cities have really been struggling to get snow though, with Rochester, notorious for being one of the snowiest cities in the whole country, only measuring 15.7” so far, which is almost 40” below average for this point in the season. New York City has also been struggling with snowfall, only receiving a few days with a “trace” of snow in Central Park. After Central Park failed to receive “measurable snow” (greater than 0.1”) by Jan. 29, it broke the record for the latest measurable snowfall in NYC since records began in 1869. Additionally, if no snow falls in the city by this Saturday, Feb. 4, it will also break the record for the longest snowless streak in the city at 332 straight days without measurable snowfall.
The biggest winner of the season so far is surely the Buffalo region which received multiple monster lake effect snow events. Just one of these storms dropped almost the entire season’s worth of snowfall. They are now sitting at a whopping 109.0” so far, about 52.3” above average.
There is still plenty of winter left, with much of New York typically not seeing its last snowfall until late March. This coming week will feature temperatures well below normal and even a few chances for some more snow, so make sure to keep the hats and gloves handy, and bundle up!