Blizzard could dump 4 feet of lake-effect snow
In the wake of the departing storm, cold winds are howling across the Great Lakes from the west-northwest with gusts from 40-70 mph. These cold winds are picking up moisture from the lakes and dumping snow downwind.
Blizzard warnings are in effect through Friday afternoon for the towns of Watertown, Oswego and Fulton, New York.
The National Weather Service is forecasting 3 to 4 feet of snow in the heaviest band, with gusts to 60 mph. The snow will taper off Friday night and Saturday, with some towns, perhaps Redfield, likely to get over 50 inches of snow.
The intensity of any lake-effect snowstorm depends on the contrast between the air temperature and water temperature. The effect is heightened right now by very mild and mostly ice-free Great Lakes waters, thanks to a very warm winter so far.
4 feet of snow is in the way for the Tug Hill east of Lake Ontario. Spots may pick up 30 inches overnight alone. This is partly due to warm water temps near 40 and very minimal ice cover, both allowing for rapid evaporation, intense rising motion and tremendous snowfall rates! pic.twitter.com/3Jf4Ie4a4E
— Jeff Berardelli (@WeatherProf) February 27, 2020
As a result, water temperatures in Lake Ontario are near 40 degrees Fahrenheit, while temperatures in the clouds are near zero. This 40-degree temperature contrast, combined with strong and steady winds, is enhancing the evaporation of moisture from the Great Lakes, spiking the snow-making process in the clouds above.
The steady, relatively straight winds allow the lake-effect snow machine to consolidate into a narrow plume, only 15 miles across but 700 miles long, picking up moisture from Lake Superior, Lake Huron and Lake Ontario. Loaded with three lakes’ worth of moisture, that „fire hose” will then blast an area just east of Lake Ontario called the Tug Hill Plateau.
That alone would generate intense, whiteout snowfall rates. But Tug Hill has one more trick up its sleeve: It’s a hill. Reaching 2,000 feet above sea level, the hill itself lifts the winds which are bombarding it. That forces the air vertically upward and causes the clouds to boil up, further intensifying snowfall rates. At times, snowfall rates from this event will top 5 inches an hour.
Whiteout conditions in Oswego, NY. 2-3” rates in the middle of this lake effect band with winds gusting near 50mph along the lakeshore. pic.twitter.com/5uzBS6zSvN
— Michael Pagnanelli (@michaelpag3wx) February 27, 2020
Because of this confluence of factors, the Tug Hill Plateau is known for massive snowfalls. In 1997 the city of Montague received 77 inches (6.4 feet) in just 24 hours. Over a 10-day period in 2007 the town of Redfield picked up 12 feet of snow. And during the winter season of 1976-77 the town of Hooker got an astounding 467 inches — 39 feet of snow!
For people unfamiliar with lake-effect snow, often the most surprising aspect is how sharp the cutoff is. The snow bands are so focused that it’s not uncommon for one town to receive 50 inches while people just 15 miles away get no more than flurries.
In Syracuse, about 30 miles from the where the heaviest snow will fall, the city is forecast to only pick up a few inches. Some towns nearby may get even less. And it’s that extraordinary contrast — from 50 inches to flurries — that makes lake-effect snow such a freak of nature.Many black women leading campaigns in South Carolina
„FebruBURIED:” Popular destination has measured more than 300 inches of snow this winter! by Brian Lada•Much has been made of some of the snow droughts underway in what is stacking up as a historically mild winter throughout the contiguous United States. Places along the Eastern Seaboard, like Washington, D.C., Philly and New York City, have seen well below-average snow totals that typically accumulate by this point of the year.But one place that is experiencing no-such drought is situated in the middle of the country and it just passed a major snowfall milestone after a month in, which it saw record snowfall pile up.One of Colorado’s most popular ski destinations just became the snowiest in the state, which will be a boon for the resort throughout the spring.On Sunday, a storm covered the Colorado Rockies with a fresh blanket of snow and sent Breckenridge Resort over the 300-inch mark on the season. Breckinridge was the first resort in the state to surpass the 300-inch benchmark, having eclipsed it just two days before Steamboat Resort hit the mark.Not only did the recent storm cause Breckenridge to eclipse the 300-inch mark, but it also added to the resort’s record-setting snowfall in February.
|A skier being pulled down Main Street by a bicycle waves to fans during Ullr Fest honoring the Nordic God of Snow Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019, in Breckenridge, Colo. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)|
On Thursday, Breckenridge Resort said on Twitter that it had measured more than 119 inches of snow this month alone, far surpassing the previous record for the snowiest February of 85 inches. This triple-digit snow total is also more than double the typical February snowfall in Breckenridge, which is 50 inches, Summit Daily reported.The resort’s social media team has joked that the month should be renamed „FebruBURIED” due to the incredible record snowfall.
The storm that sent Breckenridge over 300 inches on the season was just one in a long line of snowstorms to hit the Colorado Rockies this season.
„We’ve had a persistent storm track from the Pacific, down through the Rockies and down into the southern Plains,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dave Bowers said. „It’s just been one [storm] after another, essentially all winter long.”
„What has been remarkable about it is its persistence. It’s not a pattern that’s been real common for a long period of time,” Bowers added.
The snowy pattern responsible for the record-setting snowfall is forecast to carry over right into March, keeping to weather lore that the month ‘comes in like a lion.’
„I would think that the storms will keep coming to Colorado over the next couple of weeks,” Bowers said.
AccuWeather Expert Long-Range Meteorologist predicted this pattern weeks ago when AccuWeather’s spring forecast was released. „They’ve had a busy central Rockies ski season this year, and I think that will continue to be the case into spring,” Pastelok said.
The continuous rounds of snow may draw in skiers elsewhere across the country that are experiencing a lack of snow this winter.
Although the winter started off strong in California, a long spell of dry weather has caused the state’s snowpack to run well below normal. Unless there is a major shift in the weather pattern, ski resorts across the state may end up closing a bit earlier than recent years when snow was bountiful.
„Right now, 2020 is on track to be a below-average year, but we could still see large storms in March and April that will improve the current snowpack,” said Sean de Guzman, chief of Department of Water Resource’s Snow Surveys and Water Supply Forecasting Section.
Ski resorts on the opposite side of the country are also seeing a lack of snow, but for a different reason.
„The same pattern [responsible for snow in the Rockies] has led to more rain in the eastern U.S. rather than snow,” Bowers said. „There have hardly been any nor’easters.”
Skiers and snowboarders in these corners of the country have plenty of time to head to Colorado to enjoy the plethora of snow for themselves. Breckenridge Resort is planning to keep their slopes open through Memorial Day weekend, in part thanks to Mother Nature.
Keep checking back on AccuWeather.com and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.
Climate change could lead to global catastrophe, new report warns by Alexander Nazaryan
Like the new book by Klare, the report places the Pentagon squarely in the global warming fight. That fight has been largely abandoned by agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Interior, where political appointees with backgrounds in the oil and gas industries have roundly rejected the scientific consensus on climate change.
The nation’s military does not have that luxury, Klare argues, not when rising sea levels — caused by melting polar ice caps — threaten the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, one of the biggest naval installations in the world. Situated in coastal Virginia, it has been devastated by flooding nine times in the last decade, according to InsideClimate News.
“They’ve started taking real hits from climate change,” Klare says. “They know this is becoming extreme.” That notion is partly reflected in the climate proposal of former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, one of two military veterans currently running for president (the other is Hawaii congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard). Buttigieg has vowed to “increase the climate planning and regional readiness budget at the Department of Defense” and to “integrate climate security and resilience” at the Pentagon “by creating a senior climate security role in the Secretary of Defense’s office responsible for managing climate security risks.”
Those risks are real, said John Conger, director of the Center for Climate and Security, as he unveiled the report in a House of Representatives office building on Capitol Hill on Monday. He pointed to Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, which was pummeled by Hurricane Michael in 2018, and Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, which found itself under water during flooding that devastated parts of the Midwest last year.
Relative to other anticipated climate change effects, however, these two incidents were relatively mild, if expensive nevertheless.
Written by a consortium that includes several retired flag officers, the report warns of a “catastrophic security future” unless carbon emissions are quickly, and radically curbed. The authors are unsparing in their warnings: “If we collectively turn our backs on these threats,” they write, “we stand on the precipice of some of the greatest, multidimensional security threats the world has ever seen.”
The release of the report in Washington follows a similar event last week in Munich, where the “World Climate and Security Report 2020” was made public. The product of an international group of military experts, the Munich report makes points similar to its Washington counterpart, suggesting that there is a growing consensus by military and national security leaders around the world that climate change can wreak havoc on geopolitical stability. The Munich report warned that, in particular, water shortages and food insecurity are looming threats. The extremists of Boko Haram, for example, have exploited Nigeria’s water shortages to their advantage.
To underscore the point, the Munich session at which the report was unveiled was titled, in part, “Apocalypse Now?”
Instrumental to both publications was Sherri Goodman, a former Pentagon undersecretary for environmental security and, before that, a staffer for the Senate Armed Services Committee. “In addition to causing headaches for U.S. military planners, climate change directly threatens our troops and our capacity to defend ourselves in a dangerous world,” she wrote in an op-ed published with retired Army Gen. Gordon Sullivan last year (Sullivan helped author the new climate change report form the Center for Climate and Security).
Lyndon B. Johnson was the first president to have been warned of the national security implications of climate change. In some way, every president since has also been told of the geopolitical dangers of climate change, though not every president has taken that threat with equal seriousness. President Trump often invokes national security as a strength of his administration, lavishing praise on “his” generals. But he has questioned their expertise in private, and has apparently ignored their warnings on climate change.
The Washington report that was published on Monday is based on the premise that, in the near term (that is, until 2050), the globe will continue to warm at a rate of 1-2 degrees Celsius per year, as greenhouses gases trap the sun’s heat within the Earth’s atmosphere, causing it to become steadily warmer. That scenario presents a “high-very high threat” to security around the world.
The authors posit, for example, that Africa would see “violent extremist groups bolster their numbers, and security threats spiral into nearby fragile areas” as a result of unrest called by epidemics made worse by climate change and “rapid loss of rural livelihoods.”
The near-term scenario for South America is one that is already hauntingly familiar: drought and diminishing crop yields driving migrant populations northward, in search of more clement regions. “Transnational criminal groups, and narcotics and human traffickers will likely take advantage of this growing destabilization, further straining local security institutions,” the authors write.
One of the conclusions of the report challenges the longstanding assumptions about climate change having a disproportionate effect on equatorial regions. “Northern, industrialized regions will also face significant threats at all levels of warming,” the report says. “In longer term, high emissions warming scenarios, these countries could experience catastrophic security risks, including high levels of migration and a breakdown of key infrastructure and security institutions.”
In that longer term, the report estimates that temperatures could increase by 4 degrees Celsius. That’s close to the United Nations’ “nightmare scenario” known as RCP 8.5, which would see temperatures rise by 4.9 degrees Celsius by 2100. The current administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, the former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler, has downplayed the likelihood of an RCP 8.5 scenario, though that scenario is predicated on nothing more radical than the global community remaining on the current course (there are some mainstream scientists who believe that scenario can still be avoided).
The Center for Climate and Security evaluates that a 4-degree rise by century’s end will spell a “catastrophic” threat, one that no region will avoid. North America, for example, will see “rising ethnonationalist, anti-democratic and isolationist views,” the report says, in what could be a veiled dig at Trump.
In addition, “great power competition over resources in the melting Arctic may become acute.” South America could see “violent conflict” as a result of prolonged droughts and exacerbated epidemics, while Asia would see the deterioration of “important military alliances and partnerships on which regional peace depends.” That peace has already been threatened in nations like Pakistan, which has been routinely pummeled by extreme weather events, and which is currently engaged in a water war with India.
“If we don’t come together to mitigate this threat, soon, American interests and security are on the line,” said a statement from Conger, the director of the Center for Climate and Security.
That’s not a controversial opinion in the scientific community. But it is not one shared widely by the current administration, which has repeatedly said that increased environmental regulation harms American businesses.
Asked if Wheeler, the EPA administrator with an exceptionally strong pro-industry record, had read the report, a spokeswoman for the agency said only that the “EPA is reviewing the report.” She declined to elaborate.
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