By Chris Gilberti | November 21, 2022
Snow falling on the UAlbany campus, Nov. 15-16, 2022
Photo Credit: Henry Fisher
The warmth of summer is feeling like a distant memory after the first snow of the season fell in Albany on Nov. 16. The National Weather Service Albany Office, located at ETEC on the UAlbany campus measured 1.5 inches of snow by the morning of Nov. 16. As it turns out, Albany can expect its first snowfall of the year, on average, to occur around Nov. 15, so winter has made its entrance right on cue.
It is almost hard to believe that just two weeks ago on Nov. 12, there was record breaking warmth, with Albany reaching 71 degrees! As can occur during transitional seasons (fall and spring), strong cold fronts formed as a result of cold air from near the poles battling with warm air from the tropics, which moved through last weekend, setting the stage for wintry weather across the northeast.
Meteorologists started to keep an eye on this storm a few days prior, as weather models began to indicate the possibility of a widespread snowfall in the Capital Region and surrounding areas. As a result, the National Weather Service issued Winter Weather Advisories for Albany, calling for 1 to 3 inches of snow and less than .1 inches of ice. Unfortunately for students hoping to take classes from the comfort of their rooms for the day, the storm did not quite produce enough to force classes to go remote, although it made for gorgeous wintry scenes around campus and the Albany area.
New York State Mesonet 24hr Snowfall Accumulations for the Capital Region
Photo Credit: New York State Mesonet at UAlbany
In the wake of this storm, Albany saw on and off snow showers throughout the day Thursday and into the weekend, which was actually lake effect coming all the way from Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. While in Albany, this only resulted in some flurries, back in the Buffalo area and near Watertown, a historic lake effect snowstorm was underway. Reports of around five feet and more of snow popped up just south of Buffalo where snow began Thursday night and didn’t stop through Sunday. With snow falling at a rate of sometimes over four inches per hour, travel became impossible with the thruway closing to all traffic and people’s cars being completely buried by the snow.
Looking into the future, it seems that the scene is being set for winter to stick around. Through the end of November and into December, temperatures look to remain around or slightly below the seasonal normal. At this time of the year, that of course starts to put snow on people’s minds, especially after most have just gotten a taste of it. From the looks of it, this week seems to remain fairly calm, which should allow everyone to travel home for Thanksgiving without trouble. However, by the end of the week and into the weekend, the pattern seems to become slightly more active. We will see multiple chances for precipitation the weekend after Thanksgiving and possibly into the following week. The preliminary look of these storms is that they will most likely be a little too warm for much snow to fall, although the ingredients will be there to support more snowfall events given any changes to the forecast.
Into the rest of the winter, we will likely be in an unprecedented fourth year of La Niña conditions, meaning temperatures of ocean waters in the eastern Pacific will be below average. These ocean temperatures drive weather patterns in the US so they are an important part of the long-term forecast. La Nina’s are generally associated with both near average temperatures and near average precipitation in the northeast US. Two years ago though, we had a cool winter with lots of snow, while last year we had also a cool winter, but with much less snow. In reality, the temperatures and snowfall amounts will be a story of haves and have-nots, where if a polar vortex can find itself in the right spot and a storm comes from the right angle, there can be plenty of snow, or, on the other hand, not much at all. We will have a much clearer picture as winter really begins to take hold in the coming weeks, but at the very least it seems cooler, and possibly snowier conditions, are in store for the not too distant future.