Moderate to Heavy Snow Storm
Sunday-Monday February 12-13, 2017

This storm brought the area's second widespread regional moderate to heavy snowfall of the 2016-17 winter with a general accumulation of 6"-10" between 7am and 11pm across eastern New York and western New England, officially 7.6" at Albany. Zones of 10"-13", however, were common in the western Catskills, Schoharie County, and Adirondacks with many locations in Bennington County, VT coming in with greater than 15" of snow largely due to terrain effects which persisted well into the 13th.. And this all came after only a two day break from the previous large snowfall of the season which occurred on Thursday, February 9.

The heavier snows, however, with the storm on the 9th were concentrated in areas from the Capital Region and Berkshires on south vs. with this storm where the heavier snows were spread out more uniformly across the majority of the region, but with a greater concentration of the heaviest snows across northern areas and Vermont. So, although the distributions were different with the storms, both produced considerable amounts of back to back snow. In fact, the combined snow totals at Albany from Thursday February 9 through Sunday February 12, a span of four days, which included some light snow with a clipper from the 10th through the 11th, equaled 20.6", which was more than the total snowfall combined in the entire 2015-2016 winter the year before.

And unlike the storm on the 9th, which was much colder, allowing for a very dry light fluffy snow (ratios running 18:1 to 20:1,) this storm was warmer with temperatures climbing from the low 20s into the lower 30s through its duration. Therefore, the snow in this storm progressively became wetter and denser (ratios closer to 10:1) which ultimately made it a bit harder to move, but was better for making snowballs.

In general this storm was wetter than the one on the 9th, meaning, it produced more liquid equivalent precipitation. But because it was a warmer storm, the denser snow didn't stack up as much as it did on the 9th. Had this storm been colder, the snow would have fluffed up more resulting in an accumulation heavier than what had fallen on the 9th. It's an example of how temperature plays a very important role in how much snow will accumulate at any given location in a storm. It's not just about storm track and intensity, which are also key players.

Photograph contributed via Facebook by Genell Fiero: Central Avenue and Quail Street in Albany, 10:30pm Sunday February 12, 2017

Snow covered roads in downtown Albany, NY 10:30pm Sunday February 12, 2017

Set-Up/Storm Character:
Like the storm on the 9th, this one also was not a classic system of the type that would typically bring heavy snows to the region, although in the end a classic powerful Nor'easter did develop out of it, with that Nor'easter developing too far east of the local area to directly produce snowfall here. The Nor'easter "Low", however, did produce blizzard conditions in Maine burying large parts of that state in two or more feet of snow, with heavy snow extending south into New Hampshire and Massachusetts Sunday night into Monday. However, most of the 6"-10" of snow that fell during the day Sunday locally came as a result of a primary low pressure system, another "Midwest runner", which came in from the Tennessee and Ohio valleys on a track that would take it up the St. Lawrence valley Sunday night. A strong upper level low pressure system accompanied that surface storm and in tandem the lift produced by both features along with a strong upper level jet stream came together to produce periods of widespread moderate to heavy snowfall throughout eastern New York and western New England from the mid morning through the early evening. By 8pm, snowfall totals of 6"-10" were common across the area with lesser amounts under 6" across portions of western Delaware, Ulster, Dutchess, southern Berkshire and Litchfield counties where a combination of snow mixing of sleet and a mid to late afternoon dry slot arrival, reduced the amounts.

A dry punch in the mid levels of the atmosphere came in from SW to NE across the region as the primary low in the St. Lawrence valley was weakening with the energy transferring to the new coastal system which began winding up and producing snows over central and eastern New England. Snows locally became light and scattered through the evening with little additional stacking up in the Hudson valley - Capital Region after 11pm.

Unlike the storm on the 9th, where a significant Mohawk-Hudson convergence (MHC) event took place, where a NNE wind in the Hudson valley converged with a WNW wind in the Mohawk valley to produce a period of enhanced snowfall over the Capital Region at the end of that storm, coastal development with the new Nor'easter late Sunday night was so rapid that the wind quickly shifted from light ENE to WNW with a significant jump in speeds during the pre-dawn hours on Monday the 13th. Because the wind shifted so fast, there was insufficient time for an MHC to set-up, so no additional snowfall occurred in the Capital Region after 11pm. However, the strong west to northwest wind effectively converged with the higher terrain east of the Hudson river in Washington, Rutland, and Bennington counties, the Taconics in Rensselaer County and the northern Berkshires to produce a prolonged period of upslope snows which lasted right into Monday evening. (This snow was enhanced in this upslope region Sunday night by the passage of a strong upper level low, which created additional lift on top of the lift generated by the wind flow interacting with the mountains.) On top of the synoptic 6"-10" of snow (snows directly associated with the "Midwest runner" storm), another 6"-10" of mesoscale (very localized mountain effect) snows occurred especially across southern Vermont and especially enhanced in the highest elevations. Our WeatherNet 6 spotters in Woodford, VT, (2300') reported a storm total of 21" of snow by Monday evening with Landgrove, VT in northeast Bennington County (1700') right at 17". Similarly, across the Adirondacks and in the Catskills, lake effect and upslope snows continued well into Monday, although not as heavy as the snow in Vermont on average, with additional accumulations on top of the synoptic 6"-10" on Sunday, ranging from 2"-4" on average through Monday. The additional accumulations brought on by the wind interacting with the local terrain in what remained a cold moist atmosphere on the western side of the Nor'easter in the Gulf of Maine, created high variability in regional accumulations, as typically occurs in most storms in the local area, illustrated by the snowfall amount and distribution map below.

WeatherNet 6 Observed Snowfall Distribution for the February 12-13, 2017 Storm
(Note: The small area shaded in maroon in southwest Hamilton County centered on Hoffmeister indicates 14"+)

WeatherNet 6 Observed Snowfall Distribution for the February 12-13, 2017 Storm

WeatherNet Storm Total Snowfall Reports for February 12-13, 2017

Town County Snowfall Report Town County Snowfall Report
Pittsfield, MA Berkshire 6.5" Lanesborough, MA Berkshire 8"
New Marlborough, MA Berkshire 5" Savoy, MA Berkshire 15.8"
Clarksburg, MA Berkshire 14"      
Colonie Albany 7.5" Cohoes Albany 7.5"
Glenmont Albany 10.5" Knox Albany 6"
Coeymans Hollow Albany 6.5" Delmar Albany 8"
Latham Albany 7.5"      
Taghkanic Columbia 4.2" Ancramdale Columbia 3.5"
Austerlitz Columbia 6.5" Livingston Columbia 4"
Bainbridge Delaware 11.5" Denver Delaware 13"
Gloversville Fulton 10" Broadalbin Fulton 10"
Fish House Fulton 11.5"      
Catskill Greene 7" Durham Greene 9"
Norton Hill Greene 10" Greenville Greene 11"
Athens Greene 6.5"      
Hoffmeister Hamilton 14" Piseco Hamilton 8"
Indian Lake Hamilton 10" Wells Hamilton 12.3"
Fonda Montgomery 7.5" Florida Montgomery 11"
Amsterdam Montgomery 11.3" Stone Ridge Montgomery 6.8"
Glen Montgomery 8" Hessville Montgomery 6.8"
Palatine Bridge Montgomery 7.5"      
Oneonta Otsego 12.2" Worcester Otsego 11"
Decatur Otsego 10" Cherry Valley Otsego 8.5"
Center Brunswick Rensselaer 9.3" Speigletown Rensselaer 9"
Lansingburgh Rensselaer 8" Berlin Rensselaer 6"
Malta Saratoga 11" Lake Desolation Saratoga 10.4"
Clifton Park (Oaks) Saratoga 7.8" Saratoga Springs Saratoga 9.5"
Charlton Saratoga 9" Hadley Saratoga 8.5"
Ballston Spa Saratoga 7.5" Ballston Lake Saratoga 7"
Milton Saratoga 9.3"      
Rotterdam Schenectady 7.3" Delanson Schenectady 8.5"
Niskayuna (CBS6) Schenectady 7.5"      
Jefferson Schoharie 12" Charlotteville Schoharie 11.5"
Richmondville Schoharie 11.5" Gilboa Schoharie 12"
Phoenicia Ulster 5.3" Kingston Ulster 5.5"
Kingston Ulster 5"      
Warrensburg Warren 7" Queensbury Warren 6.8"
Lake Luzerne Warren 8.5"      
Hebron Washington 9.5" Hudson Falls Washington 7.1"
Manchester, VT Bennington 12.6" to 13.4" Woodford, VT Bennington 21"
Landgrove, VT Bennington 17" Pownal, VT Bennington 15.8"
Pawlet, VT Rutland 8"      

This following series of radar images highlight the progress of the storm through the evening of Sunday February 12, 2017.

Albany Doppler Radar Image: 10 am February 12 - Snow had developed rapidly after 7-8am spreading across the entire region through 10am (this image). Banded zones had developed at this time (darker green areas) which indicated areas of moderate to locally heavy snowfall with snowfall rates of 1" per hour. Large wet snowflakes were reported across the Catskills and the mid Hudson valley at this time.

Albany Doppler Radar Image at 10:00 am, February 12, 2017 
Albany Doppler Radar Image: Noon February 12 - Widespread moderate snow was falling throughout the region at this time with a strong mesoscale band of heavy snow stretching from Otsego and Herkimer counties through Montgomery, Schoharie, Albany, northern Columbia and southern Berkshire counties. Snowfall rates in this band briefly reached 2" per hour.

Albany Doppler Radar Image at noon, February 12, 2017

Albany Doppler Radar Image: 2pm February 12 - Heavy snows with rates of 1" to 1.5" per hour were occurring in the areas of darkest green from Herkimer County on east through the Mohawk valley, Schenectady and Saratoga counties to southern Washington, Rensselaer, Columbia and Berkshire Counties. Some drying was also noted in Otsego and Delaware counties at this time as a mid level dry slot was slowly working into the region from the southwest.

Albany Doppler Radar Image at 2pm, February 12, 2017 

Albany Doppler Radar Image: 3:30pm February 12 - A very strong mesoscale band of snow was in progress at this time stretching from northeast Fulton County through Saratoga, southwest Washington and northern Rensselaer counties. Snowfall rates, especially in the areas of yellow, briefly reached 2"/hour with this band. This small band was largely responsible for elevating the snow totals in this part of the region by a couple of inches with most spots in this area seeing storm total amounts of 8"-12"

Albany Doppler Radar Image at 3:30pm, February 12, 2017 

Albany Doppler Radar Image: 5pm February 12 - The last widespread round of snowfall for the region was occurring at this time with areas of moderate snowfall pretty widespread. Drying took over and caused the snow shield to diminish through 9pm.

Albany Doppler Radar Image at 5pm February 12, 2017

Albany Doppler Radar Image: 9:30pm February 12 - Snow directly related to the synoptic forcing was in its last phases here with a few small moderate snow bursts left in Saratoga, Schenectady, Albany, Washington, Rensselaer, Columbia and Bennington counties. The process from transitioning to more of local or mesoscale snow was just beginning with snows by midnight generally concentrated in the upslope areas of Washington, Rutland, and Bennington counties.

Albany Doppler Radar Image at 9:30pm February 12, 2017 

Photograph by WeatherNet 6 spotter Valerie Curto - Gilboa - This is a high elevation location in Gilboa, Schoharie County, 12" of snow from this storm, 12" from the storm on the 9th - Photograph taken on February 13, 2017

Heavy snow from two storms, two feet combined, in Gilboa, February 13, 2017

Photograph contributed via facebook by Diane Palma - Snowy Scene February 12, 2017 - Saratoga Lake

Snowy scene in along Saratoga Lake, February 12, 2017 

Photograph contributed via facebook Denise Sadera-Parsons - Snowy but serene scene in Sheffield, MA, February 12, 2017

Snowy scene in Athens, NY Greene County February 9, 2017