Weird Storm

I took this picture earlier today of the storm total snowfall graphic I made. This doesn’t include the New Years Eve event since it really was a separate system. Some of the snowfall totals are impressive, but what is more impressive is the extreme variability over a small area.

  • Shelton – 10″
  • Stafford Springs – 10″
  • North Canaan – 9″
  • Kent – 8″
  • Tolland – 8″
  • Monroe – 7″
  • Sterling – 7″
  • North Windham 6.5″
  • Trumbull – 5.5″
  • Ashford – 5″
  • Stonington 4.5″
  • Oxford 3″
  • Winchester – 2.8″
  • Farifield – 2″
  • Clinton – 2″
  • West Hartford – 1″
  • East Granby – Trace

Notice that there were 2 max areas of snowfall. One over Tolland county in the northeast hills and a second area in Litchfield/Fairfield Counties. Areas that typically see a lot of snow in northwest Hartford county and northeast Litchfield county saw very little snow. There’s a few reasons for this.

Typically areas west of Avon Mountain west through Rt 8 (Canton, New Hartford, Torrington, Winsted, Hartland, North Granby, Harwinton, Burlington, etc.) do very well in terms of snowfall because the prevailing wind direction during a snowstorm is usually northeast. The easterly component of the wind rises from the CT River (low elevation) and up the ridges and into Litchfield County.

In this situation, an exceptionally intense storm was able to throw moisture on the far western periphery of the storm, but the prevailing wind direction was northwest. The westerly component caused “downsloping” or sinking air from the mountainous ridge in central Litchfield County (from Litchfield to Goshen to Norfolk) east to the CT River Valley. The opposite occured in Tolland and Windham Counties where the westerly component lead to upslope snows even in towns like Vernon and Ellington that are only a few hundred feet higher than the River. East of the ridge through central Tolland counties, small changes in elevation mitigated any substantial upslope signal, though totals were generally higher near Tolland/Stafford Springs at the top of the ridge than areas to the east of the ridge which makes sense.

There are a few exceptions. Far eastern (and southeasterN) Connecticut did fairly well even with no upslope/downslope component because they were closer to the storm. This provided stronger lift and more moisture through the column. The odd maximum in portions of Fairfield County appears to be because of some persistent mesoscale banding. I’m not sure what lead to this but I’m looking into it.

Here is an idea of why some areas saw more and some saw less thanks to the prevailing wind direction:


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