Saturday-Sunday January 19-20, 2019: Major Winter Storm
Bitter Cold Analysis: Saturday-Tuesday January 19-22


The first major snow storm of the 2018-19 season struck after a mild and snowless first half of meteorological winter with only 1.2" of snow measured at Albany between December 1, 2018 and January 18, 2019. Snowfall deficits, however, for both January and the season were all but wiped out with a general 9"-14" snowfall from this storm throughout much of the region with zones from Fulton County east through Saratoga and Washington counties on north in New York and throughout Vermont coming in with anywhere from 14"-20" with a few locally higher amounts where terrain played an enhancing role. The 13.9" of snow that was measured at Albany was enough to rank it as the 10th largest January snow storm to date, eclipsing the previous #10 storm that occurred from January 6-10, 1923 and produced 13.2" of snow.

It was not a pure snowstorm, however, as sleet and freezing rain evolved through Sunday morning across the Catskills, mid Hudson valley and into the Berkshires with some sleet for a brief period of time as far north as the Adirondacks and well into southern Vermont. The mixing held snow totals down across the mid Hudson valley and Berkshires to a 3" to 9" range on average with the lowest amounts confined to southern Ulster, southern Dutchess, and Litchfield counties. Anywhere from 0.10" to 0.30" of ice accretion occurred from Kingston through southern Berkshire County Sunday morning. Winter Storm Warnings flew for just about the entire Northeast from Saturday afternoon through Sunday evening with winter weather advisories for lesser snow accumulations but significant icing across southern New England.

NWS Storm advisories

The storm came in Saturday afternoon with the first flakes breaking out between 3 and 4pm with a quick west to east evolution throughout the region. Roads snowed over quickly in a very cold environment leading to a prolonged period of hazardous travel conditions from Saturday afternoon through Sunday night. Snowfall rates remained fairly light through midnight with accumulations generally ranging from 2"-4" across the region by the end of Saturday. Widespread moderate to heavy snow then occurred from midnight through daybreak on Sunday with snowfall rates ranging from 1" to 2.5" per hour resulting in rapid accumulations and the bulk of the snowfall on the ground by 8am in all but the north Country where significant additional accumulations of 4"-8" occurred from 7am through 2pm.

Mixing began after 3-4am in Dutchess, and Litchfield counties then spread west into Delaware County on north into the Capital Region through 5-7am. Largely sleet fell throughout much of the region from the Capital District on east and south through mid morning before a switch back over to snow through the mid to late morning. The storm concluded with brief period of heavy snow into the early afternoon before becoming lighter and more intermittent during the afternoon with mainly flurries by the evening.

Albany Doppler Radar Base Reflectivity - Winter precipitation mode 12:10am Sunday January 20, 2019
Widespread moderate snow with bands of heavy snow (highlighted in the dark blue)


Albany Doppler Radar image at 12:10am Sunday January 20, 2019

Albany Doppler Radar Base Reflectivity - Winter precipitation mode 1:25am Sunday January 20, 2019
Widespread heavy snow - Snowfall rates ranged from 1" to 2.5" per hour at this time

Albany Doppler Radar image at 1:25am Sunday January 20, 2019 

It was a particularly cold storm with a significant cold air drainage flow down the Hudson valley Saturday afternoon into early Sunday morning. Temperatures dropped into the low and mid single digits from the Capital Region on north while temperatures held in the low to mid 20s across the higher terrain east of the Hudson river into the Berkshires and west into the Catskills indicating the very shallow nature of the arctic air. The cold resulted in a light and fluffy snow with snowfall ratios running close to 15:1, meaning for every inch of water, 15" of snow would result. Temperatures climbed slightly into the lower to mid teens by morning as the storm center passed just south of New York City during the period of mixed precipitation. It's interesting to note that it is unusual to have mixed precipitation in a scenario so cold as temperatures aloft would typically be colder to support pure snow. But, the very shallow arctic air was substantial that the downward translation of the warming air aloft was insufficient to produce significant warming at the surface. The afternoon high temperature at Albany on Sunday was only 21° occurring at 1:09pm. After 1pm, the storm center moved east and intensified allowing arctic air to re-flood the region with temperatures steadily falling through the single digits during the afternoon to the low for the day at Albany of 0° right at midnight. Winds also increased dramatically through the afternoon gusting from 30-35 mph causing significant blowing and drifting snow as well as dropping wind chills to -10° to -20°.

12am Temperature Observations, Sunday January 20, 2019

STORM CHARACTER
The storm itself was not classic and also not of the type that would typically be expected to produce such heavy amounts of snow. The main driving force behind the heavy snow was less to do with the cyclone itself, but rather the intense character of the thermal gradient both at the surface and aloft across the region. In other words, there was a significant contrast in temperatures from the New York Canada border to the south coast of New England with temperatures ranging from a bit below zero at the border to the low and mid 50s along the coast over to Cape Cod and the Islands. This tight gradient over such a short horizontal distance provided a steep lifting surface for the coastal warm moist air to be forced up and over as the storm moved by. Strong vertical ascent in the atmosphere was then produced by a combination of a powerful and favorably configured upper level jet stream and a strong east to southeast low level jet over the top of the developing cyclone, as it intensified along the sharp temperature gradient while it approached from initially the Tennessee valley Friday night tracking to West Virginia Saturday morning, then right along the southern New England coast.

The very cold low level air also significantly contributed to the heavy snowfall with snow to water ratios of roughly 15:1. This allowed for the snow to fluff up to greater depths than had been if it was a heavy wet snow. This was also a wet storm, meaning there was a huge amount of both gulf and Atlantic moisture entrained into it with liquid equivalent precipitation amounts ranging from 1.50" to 2.00" on average which was the final ingredient to the heavy snow recipe.

Ultimately, the east to southeast low level jet which formed and supported the snow shield pushed an above freezing zone of air in aloft (warm nose) which was sufficient to switch the snow to sleet, and where that upper level layer of warmer air grew deep enough, freezing rain, which mainly affected Delaware, Ulster, Dutchess, southern Columbia, southern Berkshire and Litchfield counties. When the low center moved east of the region, the warm nose aloft disappeared allowing the remaining precipitation to change back to snow prior to ending in the afternoon.


WeatherNet 6 Snowfall Amount and Distribution Analysis of the January 19-20, 2019 Storm

WeatherNet 6 Observed Snowfall Distribution for the Jan 19-20, 2019 Storm 

WeatherNet Storm Total Snowfall Reports Saturday-Sunday January 19-20, 2019

(Note: Reports with an * notation are NWS relayed and not WxNet 6 spotter observations)

Town County Snowfall Report Town County Snowfall Report
Savoy, MA Berkshire 20.3" Canaan, CT Litchfield 6.0"
Lenoxdale, MA Berkshire 7.0"      
           
Albany (ASOS)* Albany 13.9" Albany (NWS)* Albany 11.2"
Knox Albany 13.2" Colonie Albany 13.5"
Boght Corners* Albany 14.1" Guilderland* Albany 13.0"
Glenmont Albany 12.0"      
           
Taghkanic Columbia 6.2" Germantown Columbia 8"
Spencertown Columbia 11.5" Ancramdale Columbia 3.2"
Livingston Columbia 8.0" to 9.0" Austerlitz* Columbia 8.0"
Chatham* Columbia 7.0"      
           
Poughkeepsie Dutchess 5.5" Hopewell Junction* Dutchess 3.2"
Elizaville* Dutchess 7.0" Staatsburg Dutchess 7.0"
           
Franklin Delaware 10.8" Denver Delaware 13"
           
Johnstown Fulton 18.0" Perth Fulton 18.0"
Fish House Fulton 19.5" Northville Fulton 15.0"
Broadalbin Fulton 15.0" Caroga Lake Fulton 13.0"
Gloversville* Fulton 15.8"      
           
Catskill Greene 7.0" Cairo Greene 11.0"
Halcott Greene 12.3" Greenville Greene 14.5"
           
Piseco Hamilton 14.5" Wells Hamilton 15.0" to 22.5"
Ohio* Herkimer 13.0" Dolgeville* Herkimer 11.6"
           
Glen Montgomery 12.5" Tribes Hill Montgomery 14.3"
Fonda Montgomery 14.3" Amsterdam Montgomery 13.8" to 17.3"
Hessville Montgomery 11.0" Palatine Bridge Montgomery 13.0"
           
Cherry Valley Otsego 19.0" Oneonta Otsego 14.0"
East Worcester Otsego 12.0" Milford* Otsego 12.0"
Schenevus* Otsego 11.0"      
           
Speigletown Rensselaer 18.0" Center Brunswick Rensselaer 12.3"
Hoosick Falls Rensselaer 8.5" Troy* Rensselaer 17.2"
Schaghticoke* Rensselaer 15.5" East Greenbush* Rensselaer 12.0"
           
Saratoga Springs Saratoga 13.5" to 17.4" Malta Saratoga 14.0"
Clifton Park (Oaks) Saratoga 14.0" Ballston Lake Saratoga 13.5"
Corinth Saratoga 15.0" Galway Saratoga 16.5"
Lake Desolation Saratoga 26.3" Ballston Spa Saratoga 16.5"
Charlton Saratoga 16.0"      
           
Glenville Schenectady 15.0" Niskayuna (CBS6) Schenectady 14.0"
Rotterdam Schenectady 14.2" Rotterdam Jct. Schenectady 14.0"
Delanson Schenectady 15.0" Aqueduct* Schenectady 16.2"
Scotia* Schenectady 15.0"      
           
Richmondville Schoharie 12.0" Conesville Schoharie 16.0"
Jefferson Schoharie 18.0" Schoharie Schoharie 15.0"
Charlotteville Schoharie 12.0"      
           
Ulster Park Ulster 6.3" Kingston Ulster 6.2"
Phoenicia Ulster 13.0" West Shokan Ulster 11.5"
Esopus Ulster 6.5"      
           
Hebron Washington 15.0" Greenwich Washington 14.0"
Cossayuna Washington 16.0" Argyle* Washington 16.0"
Fort Edward* Washington 15.0" Hartford* Washington 9.5"
           
Warrensburg Warren 22.0" Lake Luzerne Warren 13.5"
Glens Falls Warren 17.0" to 19.0" Chestertown* Warren 19.0"
           
Woodford, VT Bennington 20.0" Landgrove, VT Bennington 19.8"
West Arlington, VT Bennington 9.0" West Rutland, VT Rutland 18.0"
Bennington, VT Bennington 8.0"      


National Weather Service Interpolated Snowfall for the Northeast Region

National Weather Service interpolated storm total Northeast region snowfall, January 18-21, 2019 

BITTER COLD - EXTENDED SEVERE WIND CHILLS - SATURDAY THROUGH EARLY TUESDAY JANUARY 19-22, 2019

The storm itself was quite cold with temperatures falling back into the single digits due to the prodigious cold air drainage of the low level arctic air down the Hudson valley. The core of the cold air, however, followed the storm from later in the day Sunday through Monday with harsh wind chills lasting through Tuesday morning January 22. At the peak of the cold the wind chills at Albany ranged from -20° to -30° for fourteen consecutive hours between 1am and 2pm on Monday January 21 with a peak low wind chill recorded of -30° at 8, 9, and 10am. The tables below are the full temperature, dewpoint, wind, and wind chill plots for Albany from 9am on Saturday the 19th through 12pm on Tuesday the 22nd chronicling the cold.

Temperature, Dewpoint, Wind, and Wind Chill Plot For Albany, NY

Saturday January 19 - 9am through 11pm
Sunday January 20 - 12am to 11pm

TIME/DATE
TEMPERATURE
DEWPOINT
WIND DIR/SPEED
Wind Chill
9am -19th
20
9
North 8 mph
10
10am
19
7
North 12 mph
6
11am
18
6
North 12 mph
5
12pm
19
6
North 9 mph
8
1pm
19
6
North 9 mph
8
2pm
18
4
North 8 mph
8
3pm
16
3
North 10 mph
4
4pm
15
3
North 8 mph
4
5pm
12
6
North 8 mph
0
6pm
11
5
North 9 mph
-2
7pm
11
5
NE 9 mph
-2
8pm
9
2
North 7 mph
-2
9pm
9
2
North 9 mph
-4
10pm
9
2
North 7 mph
-2
11pm
8
1
North 8 mph
-4
12am - 20th
8
2
North 5 mph
-1
1am
8
3
NW 3 mph
NA
2am
8
3
NW 3 mph
NA
3am
9
3
NW 6 mph
-1
4am
9
4
North 5 mph
0
5am
11
5
NW 5 mph
2
6am
12
7
North 3 mph
NA
7am
14
8
North 5 mph
6
8am
14
9
Calm
NA
9am
16
11
North 6 mph
7
10am
18
12
North 12 mph
5
11am
19
14
North 5 mph
12
12pm-20th
19
14
NW 9 mph
8
1pm
21
16
North 9 mph
11
2pm
18
11
North 8 mph
8
3pm
13
4
W 18, G 31 mph
-4
4pm
11
0
NW 20, G 29 mph
-8
5pm
10
-2
W 20, G 31 mph
-9
6pm
8
-4
W 21, G 35 mph
-12
7pm
6
-5
W 22, G 35 mph
-15
8pm
5
-7
NW 20, G 26 mph
-15
9pm
3
-9
NW 17, G 22 mph
-17
10pm
2
-10
NW 17, G 28 mph
-18
11pm
0
-11
W 16, G 29 mph
-20

Monday January 21 - 12am - 11pm
Tuesday January 22 - 12am - 12pm

TIME/DATE
TEMPERATURE
DEWPOINT
WIND DIR/SPEED
Wind Chill
12am - 21st
0
-12
NW 13, G 24 mph
-18
1am
-1
-14
W 20, G 35 mph
-23
2am
-3
-14
NW 17, G 25 mph
-24
3am
-3
-13
NW 16, G 26 mph
-24
4am
-3
-13
NW 14 mph
-23
5am
-5
-14
West 15 mph
-26
6am
-6
-17
NW 18, G 30 mph
-29
7am
-6
-18
NW 14, G 28 mph
-26
8am
-7
-19
W 18, G 30 mph
-30
9am
-7
-18
NW 18, G 30 mph
-30
10am
-6
-17
W 20, G 31 mph
-30
11am
-4
-16
NW 17, G 28 mph
-26
12pm - 21st
-3
-16
NW 16, G 31 mph
-24
1pm
0
-14
NW 20, G 31 mph
-22
2pm
2
-12
NW 24, G 35 mph
-21
3pm
3
-10
NW 18, G 39 mph
-17
4pm
3
-11
NW 18, G 31 mph
-17
5pm
3
-13
NW 25, G 38 mph
-20
6pm
3
-12
NW 24, G 36 mph
-20
7pm
3
-14
NW 20, G 30 mph
-18
8pm
3
-14
NW 20, G 29 mph
-18
9pm
4
-15
NW 16, G 23 mph
-15
10pm
4
-14
NW 17, G 21 mph
-15
11pm
5
-11
NW 20, G 32 mph
-15
12am - 22nd
5
-11
W 18, G 26 mph
-15
1am
5
-10
NW 20, G 31 mph
-15
2am
4
-11
NW 18 mph
-16
3am
3
-11
NW 8 mph
-10
4am
3
-12
NW 13 mph
-14
5am
2
-12
NW 12 mph
-15
6am
1
-13
NW 9 mph
-14
7am
2
-13
North 6 mph
-9
8am
2
-13
North 6 mph
-9
9am
4
-11
NW 8 mph
-9
10am
8
-9
NW 7 mph
-3
11am
12
-5
Calm
NA
12pm - 22nd
14
-14
East 3 mph
NA