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What kind of weather can we expect this March? | Weather

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What kind of weather can we expect this March?

It has been 22 years since this area was glazed by one of the biggest ice storms to strike the United States.

The Rochester/Genesee Valley ice storm commenced on March 3, 1991.

It resulted from low pressure tracking into from the south into eastern New York.  This allowed warm air to flow into the upper levels of the atmosphere over Rochester, while northeast winds at the surface drew subfreezing air into the area.

Snowflakes which fell from the clouds melted into raindrops upon reaching the warmer layer above the surface, only to freeze upon reaching the ground where temperatures were below 32 degrees.

The storm was extraordinary.

It produced a 50 miles wide band of freezing rain aligned along the Genesee River Valley.  While Syracuse to the east experienced rain, Buffalo to the west had mainly sleet and snow.  But Rochester endured 17 hours of continuous freezing rain resulting in an ice accretion of more than one inch.

The downing of trees and utility lines left nearly a million people without power.  Nighttime travelers on the New York State Thruway reported how they would be driving in the glow of nearby lights only to encounter total darkness, save for automobile lights, when entering the Rochester region.

Monroe County was placed in a State of Emergency on the day of the storm.  Shortly thereafter, President Bush declared 13 counties in the region Federal Disaster areas.

The storm left a volume of debris in Monroe County twice that which is typically handled in an entire year.

With the month of February is projected to end on a wintry note with snow and some ice, it will be interesting to see if the March lion does any roaring.  He certainly did not last year.  But we think this year will be different.  

At least one major winter storm is likely to threaten Rochester and the Finger Lakes during the first half of the month.  But the odds of another storm on the magnitude of the 1991 are fortunately slim.


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