MAJOR STORM, Heavy Elevation Snow-Excessive Rain-High Wind
Monday October 27-Wednesday October 29, 2008
(The brunt of the Snowstorm occurred on Tuesday, October 28)

After only a one day break in the weather the atmosphere unloaded again over the Northeast throwing a major winter type storm on the region which dumped exceptionally heavy snow in the higher elevations of the Catskills and Adirondacks, torrential rains in the valleys, and produced strong wind gusts. Downed trees and power lines resulted in 40,000 utility customers in the Catskills, Mohawk valley, and Adirondacks losing their heat and lights during the height of the storm on Tuesday the 28th with approximately 10,000 of those customers still without power well into Thursday the 30th. Snowfall at elevations of 1500' and higher in western Ulster, western Greene, western Albany, Schoharie, Delaware, and Otsego counties ranged from 12"-18" on average with a few locations at elevations above 2200' coming in with 18"-22" of a super heavy and wet snow. Torrential rains in the Mohawk and Hudson valleys as well as in Berkshire County added up to between 1.25" and 1.75" with localized amounts as high as 2.5". Considerable urban and poor drainage flooding occurred on many streets at the height of the rain Tuesday morning into the afternoon with street flooding due in large part to storm drains being clogged with leaves. Stronger winds came in during the afternoon and especially after dark as the storm moved north of the region with WNW gusts ranging from 40-45 mph common through 3am on Wednesday the 29th.

Observed Snowfall Distribution Map for the Snow that fell on October 28 into the early morning of the 29th, 2008

(This map was created using observed snow accumulation data from both WeatherNet 6 and regional National Weather Service spotters)

Snowfall distribution map for the October 28, 2008 Elevation Snow Storm 

Click Here to view WeatherNet 6 and CBS6 viewer October 28, 2008 Snow Storm Photographs

Set Up:
Monday, 10/27: A full latitude low pressure trough at the jet stream level extended from the Great Lakes to the Gulf coast with its central axis oriented west of the Appalachians during the morning. The trough's configuration created a strong south to southwest steering flow to aligned along the Atlantic seaboard. That steering flow caused a surface cold front moving through eastern New York and western New England during the morning to stall out over central New England late in the afternoon as it became parallel to flow. (This front would later act as the path for the powerful surface storm to track along.) Temperatures cooled only modestly into the 40s across the Northeast with the passage of the front as the flow at the jet stream level tended to hold back the colder air (temperatures in the 30s) over the upper Mississippi valley and Great Lakes states. As a strong disturbance embedded within the main jet stream flow rounded the base of the trough and approached the mid Atlantic coast Monday evening, low pressure began developing along the southern part of the stalled front off the coast of Virginia as lift in the atmosphere increased.

In response to the developing wave along the coast and rising air along the stalled front, moisture expanded over eastern New York with initially a light band of showers during the afternoon developing into a steadier and heavier band of rain which fell over the region through much of Monday evening and Monday night. Slow cooling of the atmosphere from the top down occurred through the night with the first report of mixed rain and snow coming in at elevations above 2200' in the Catskills (Jefferson, Schoharie County) by 11pm. This marked the initial stages of what would rapidly become the major storm to slam the region on the 28th.

Tuesday, 10/28: The disturbance at the jet stream level, which rounded the base of the trough Monday evening, developed into a strong closed low pressure system aloft centered over northeast Virginia by early Tuesday morning. The strong development aloft caused the once weak surface low off of the Virginia coast to rapidly strengthen as it moved to a position just south of New York City by 8am Tuesday. A cooling atmosphere over the Northeast in advance of the storm was forced to cool more rapidly due to dynamical processes associated with the developing high precipitation rates and the significant cooling effect of melting snow as it fell through warmer layers of the atmosphere on its way to the ground. By 8am significant cooling had occurred across the higher terrain in New Jersey, northeast Pennsylvania and throughout the Catskills, that a heavy wet snow was able to fall and accumulate above mainly 1500' in elevation. Surface temperatures, however, in the valleys remained in the low to mid 40s through the morning supporting a heavy rain in the lower elevations.

Through Tuesday afternoon the almost vertically stacked powerful storm tracked northeast through the Connecticut river valley in New England, redeveloping near Quebec by the evening. Heavy elevation snow in the Catskills and torrential rains in the valleys continued through the afternoon as the storm went by. Snowfall rates at times ranged from 1"-2" per hour in the Catskills leading to rapid accumulations. Snow levels dropped in elevation as dynamical cooling of the atmosphere continued and also as a result of the storm moving north of the region allowing a strengthening WNW wind to push colder air into the area. During a particularly heavy burst of precipitation in the Capital Region between 3 and 4pm, rain mixed with and changed to snow, with a period of giant snow flakes occurring. Temperatures dropped sharply from the low 40s into the low and mid 30s during this period, but generally remained above freezing through the duration of the storm in the Hudson valley preventing no more than a quick coating of snow to accumulate on grassy surfaces, which quickly melted as precipitation rates decreased into the evening allowing more of a mixture of snow and rain to fall.

Snow in western New England came on the tail end of the event as a strong backlash band wrapping around the base of the storm moved into Berkshire, Bennington, and Rutland counties after 9pm. This band of snow produced 1"-3" accumulations, mainly at elevations above 1500'. Heavy snow in the Adirondacks also occurred late in the storm during the over night period and into early Wednesday morning as backlash moisture moved through that region. Accumulations from northern Herkimer and northern Hamilton counties on north ranged from 5"-10" on average.

Wednesday, 10/29: A winter like air mass plunged into the Northeast in the wake of the storm through the day Wednesday. A tight pressure gradient behind the deep storm (978mb) caused 40-45 mph wind gusts through 3 to 4am on Wednesday with a general 15-25 mph wind gusting to 30 mph through the day. Overcast conditions prevailed with widespread lake enhanced flurries and snow showers, mixing at times with graupel and rain in the Hudson valley. Highly localized additional snow accumulations of an inch or two occurred in the Adirondacks, Catskills and the higher elevations in Rensselaer, northern Berkshire, and Bennington counties. Temperatures through the day generally ranged through the mid to upper 30s with wind chills frequently dipping into the mid to upper 20s.

Storm Total Rainfall

This Table Lists the Reported WeatherNet 6 and National Weather Service Cooperative Observer Storm Total Rainfall Amounts for the October 27-29, 2008 Storm

Town County Rainfall Amount Town County Rainfall Amount
Alford, MA Berkshire 2.40" North Adams, MA Berkshire 1.16"
Savoy, MA Berkshire 1.15" Great Barrington, MA Berkshire 1.28"
Pittsfield, MA Berkshire 0.99"      
Albany (Airport) Albany 1.71" Albany (Downtown) Albany 2.05"
Colonie Albany 1.76" Medusa Albany 1.34"
Green Island Albany 1.50" Knox Albany 1.65"
Voorheesville Albany 2.03" Watervliet Albany 1.46"
Latham Albany 0.96"      
Stuyvesant Falls Columbia 1.76" Ghent Columbia 1.58"
Ancramdale Columbia 0.94" Taghkanic Columbia 1.27"
Livingston Columbia 1.16" Kinderhook Columbia 1.55"
Chatham Center Columbia 1.50"      
Millbrook Dutchess 1.29" Red Hook Dutchess 1.10"
Rhinebeck Dutchess 1.14" Poughkeepsie Dutchess 1.20"
Gloversville Fulton 1.22" Northville Fulton 1.38"
Johnstown Fulton 1.32"      
Durham Greene 2.00" Surprise Greene 3.00"
Cairo Greene 0.90" Tannersville Greene 1.70"
Indian Lake Hamilton 0.88" Piseco Hamilton 0.76"
Wells Hamilton 2.42" Lake Pleasant Hamilton 1.64"
Fonda Mongtomery 2.11" Amsterdam Mongtomery 1.44"
Glen Montgomery 1.30" Fort Plain Montgomery 1.89"
Tribes Hill Montgomery 2.11" Palatine Bridge Montgomery 1.54"
Troy Rensselaer 1.70" Schaghticoke Rensselaer 1.60"
East Greenbush Rensselaer 1.52" Speigletown Rensselaer 1.30"
Mechanicville Saratoga 1.64" Gansevoort Saratoga 1.95"
Clifton Park Saratoga 2.15" Saratoga Springs Saratoga 1.81"
Ballston Spa Saratoga 1.46" Stillwater Saratoga 1.40"
Charlton Saratoga 1.30" Round Lake Saratoga 2.01"
Scotia Schenectady 1.96" Delanson Schenectady 1.07"
Schenectady Schenectady 1.81" Duanesburg Schenectady 1.98"
Niskayuna Schenectady 1.96"      
Schoharie Schoharie 1.42" Charlotteville Schoharie 0.52"
Kingston Ulster 1.05" Whiteport Ulster 1.17"
Kerhonkson Ulster 1.35" West Shokan Ulster 1.26"
Phoenicia Ulster 2.18" Saugerties Ulster 0.87"
Lake Luzerne Warren 1.10" Bolton Landing Warren 1.08"
Glens Falls Warren 1.06"      
Hudson Falls Washington 1.03" Granville Washington 2.00"
Easton Washington 1.73" Fort Edward Washington 1.30"
Bennington, VT Bennington 1.11" Landgrove, VT Bennington 0.68"
Woodford, VT Bennington 0.63"      

Storm Total Snowfall

This Table Lists the Reported WeatherNet 6 and National Weather Service Cooperative Observer Storm Total Snowfall Accumulations from Midnight Tuesday October 28 to 6 am Wednesday October 29, 2008

Town County Snowfall Town County Snowfall
Alford, MA Berkshire 2.5" Savoy, MA (2400') Berkshire 3.0"
Lanesborough, MA Berkshire 3.5" Clarksburg, MA Berkshire 1.3"
West Otis, MA Berkshire 2.9"      
Medusa Albany 13" Albany (Downtown) Albany Trace
Altamont Albany 9.0" Knox Albany 8.5"
East Berne Albany 7.0" Westerlo Albany 4.5"
Roxbury Delaware 25.6" Stamford Delaware 10.0"
Arkville Delaware 10.5" Kortright Delaware 12.0"
Grand Gorge Delaware 9.0" Margaretville Delaware 12.0"
Northville Fulton 1.0" Broadalbin Fulton 2.5"
Caroga Lake Fulton 6.0" Gloversville Fulton 2.5"
Johnstown Fulton 2.0" Perth Fulton 2.0"
Ashland Greene 14.3" Prattsville Greene 18.5"
Elka Park Greene 17.5" Maplecrest Greene 15.0"
Hunter Greene 14.0" Lexington Greene 22.0"
Long Lake Hamilton 10.0" Raquette Lake Hamilton 9.0"
Piseco Hamilton 8.0" Indian Lake Hamilton 5.0"
Speculator Hamilton 3.0" Benson Hamilton 2.5"
Old Forge Herkimer 14.0" Ohio Herkimer 5.5"
Dolgeville Herkimer 2.8"      
Amsterdam Mongtomery 3.0" Fonda Mongtomery 1.0"
East Worcester Otsego 8.3" Worcester Otsego 14.0"
Richfield Springs Otsego 8.0" Poestenkill Rensselaer 3.0"
Taborton Rensselaer 7.0" West Sand Lake Rensselaer 3.0"
Stephentown Rensselaer 3.8" Buskirk Rensselaer 3.5"
Center Brunswick Rensselaer 1.8" Brunswick Rensselaer 0.8"
Delanson Schenectady 8.9" to 9.1" Duanesburg Schenectady 4.0"
Jefferson Schoharie 13.0" Richmondville Schoharie 6.0"
Gilboa Schoharie 12.0" Middleburgh (2100') Schoharie 12.0"
Summit Schoharie 11.0" Cobleskill Schoharie 9.0"
Charlotteville Schoharie 8.8" to 9.5" Huntersland Schoharie 8.5"
Schoharie Schoharie 1.0" North Blenheim Schoharie 3.8"
Slide Mountain Ulster 20.0" Belleayre Mt. (2300') Ulster 22.0"
Phoenicia Ulster 0.7"      
Lake Luzerne Warren 1/4" Brant Lake Warren 1.0"
Easton Washington 2.5" Hebron Washington 1.0"
Landgrove, VT Bennington 1.0" Woodford, VT Bennington 4.5"
Bennington, VT Bennington 2.0" Danby, VT Rutland 2.5"
Rutland, VT Rutland 1.0"