How damaging the Christmas storm will be in upstream NY: floods, wind and snow

Update: National Weather Service Just released Flood warning – the highest level of warning – for rivers in the southern tier.

Syracuse, NY – On the waning days of a year all we want to forget is a storm that we might not be able to make.

If the forecast continues, Upstate New York may be slammed by heavy rain, floods, strong winds, a flash freeze and lake-effect snow. There is a good chance of river flooding in the southern tier, and possible flash flooding from the Hudson and Mohawk valleys to the Adirondacks. A foot of lake effect snow can blanket Tug Hill and Western New York. Winds up to 50 mph can cause power loss.

All on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, 2020.

The National Weather Service is not truncating words about it, even doing bold type work in this morning briefing.

“The combination of strong winds, high humidity and temperature, and heavy rainfall will rapidly produce ice melt and move forward. Potentially significant flood event, “Said the briefing issued by the Binghamton Office of the Weather Service. Significant river flooding is likely to occur through Christmas today and possibly late on Saturday. “

The biggest concerns are the southern Tier’s river valleys, which were buried up to 44 inches of snow last week, and can receive the heaviest rain today. But some effects of this storm system are unlikely to survive in any part of UP. National Weather Service hazard maps have many layers that are difficult to filter, which appear in the Flood Zone, High Wind Area, or Lake Effect Snow Watch – or all three at once.

It’s a complicated mess, and the forecasts are still not sure how to play it all. If you think it is difficult to estimate how much snow will fall, it is even harder to estimate how fast it will melt. And run into creeks and rivers. It will be an important component that gets flooded and which does not.

Here is the latest thinking and timing from the weather service.


Temperatures rise rapidly in the afternoon and reach the 50s. It is likely to remain warm all night – Albany is not expected to go below 50 degrees between 2pm and 2pm Christmas Day today. This hot air will trigger the rapid melting of snow, especially when the winds pick up and drive that hot air from the air pockets between the gusts of wind.

High snow in the 50s over present-day New York through Christmas will melt heavy snow from last year, increasing the likelihood of flooding.

The snow has fallen in the past week, but still holds a lot of water. In some parts of the southern Tier, 4 inches of water is trapped in that snow; If all melts, it pours into the roads and rivers equal to one month’s worth of rain.

Then comes the rain, this morning light and afternoon and at night a deluge is formed. Nearly all areas of UP are expected to receive at least an inch of rain, except for Western New York, and will be the heaviest for the South and East – right in the area where the snow is draining. Binghamton and Albany may receive 2 or more inches of rain.

It can barely come down, as much as an inch in 12-inch intervals. The faster it falls, the more likely it is that creeks and rivers will jump their banks.

In catskills, the tendency of mountain slopes to eject water from clouds – known as “orographic lifts” – can result in 5 inches of rain.

Of the 121 riverine areas in New York State under the watch of the weather service, 66 are projected to be at or near flood levels in the next 24 to 48 hours. Small cranks will likely occur on Friday morning in rivers including Christian, Mohawk and Ausbal on Christmas night or Saturday.

Fear of flood in river and drain

Shown here are some of the 66 river drains in New York where flood stages are expected to occur near or along the rivers in the next 24 to 48 hours.

Overnight christmas morning

As the temperature is warmer and the rains continue, there can be flooding on the sewer and on the road in the worst of times: in the dark. Children can be nested and bathed, but adults will spawn from their beds to check the basement.

It is expected to be up late tonight or early in the morning. Forest County, in Madison County, and Shohri Creek in Greene County, are expected to peak at around 10 p.m.

If it is not too bad, the winds will rise overnight, increasing the chances of power outages. Syracuse could see its strong wind gust of 30 mph around midnight, while Albany could be hit at 50 mph by about 3 p.m.

Christmas day

Later in the day the temperature will drop dramatically as a cold front. This will slow down any melting of snow and put an end to rain, but at a cost: flood-ridden roads can freeze suddenly, and rain and a little snow can add yet more slippery layers.

Binghamton and Syracuse can see below-freezing temperatures until 3pm, while Albany can stay above freezing until Christmas night at 10pm.

Along with the cold temperatures, strong winds from the west also add to the lake-effect ice. Snowfall in Tug Hill and parts of Western New York may begin on Friday evening and be permanent during the weekend. Can fall into one leg or more narrow band.

Syracuse may have an inch of snow.

Meteorologist Dave Nicosia of the Meteorological Department told emergency planners this week that this is a problem. “Any time you combine all of this together, it’s extremely complicated.”

Effect of lake in the wake of christmas storm

Strong winds will cause cool air to flow through upstate New York in the wake of the wet storm system on Christmas Eve. Western New York and Tug Hill can see more than a foot of lake effect snow on Sunday night from Christmas Eve.

Read more

‘Enstream NY’ Flood Risk Rising: ‘We Are Worried’

A Christmas Eve hurricane can cause flooding, lightning evacuation, snow-covered roads in Upstat NY

Binghamton buried under more than 3 feet of snow: a new record (see photos)

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