SCHENECTADY — The Capital Region saw an average of two to five inches of snow and ice Wednesday and Thursday, and forecasters expect colder temperatures this weekend.
Commuters saw icy roads Thursday morning after the area was hit with snow and freezing rain. National Weather Service Meteorologist Dan Thompson, said storms like this are not out of the ordinary at this time of year.
“We usually get a handful of events like this throughout the winter. It might seem a little bit unusual because this winter’s been very mild so far,” Thompson said.
The weather Wednesday and into Thursday was a “warm nose” (a warmer layer of air) in the mid-levels of the atmosphere, Thompson said.
“It kind of came in as snow, and then went over to sleet and freezing rain for much of the night,” said. “In terms of snow and sleet the Capital District averaged around two to five inches with about a tenth of an inch of ice on top of that.”
The weather going from snow and then into ice has to do with the temperature profile as you go higher up into the atmosphere, Thompson said. Freezing rain is caused when temperatures in the middle levels of the atmosphere are warmer than those higher and lower areas. Precipitation melts in the warmer section and refreezes as it gets closer to the ground.
“If you imagine a snowflake falling down from the clouds, it encounters that warm layer,” Thompson said. “Then it will melt, or partially melt. Below that layer, it may refreeze and that’s what causes sleet. If it doesn’t refreeze until it hits the surface, then that’s freezing rain.”
The Capital Region will see colder temperatures this weekend.
“Friday we’re going to see temperatures drop pretty steeply,” Thompson said. “It’s going to be pretty breezy and cold, and then by Friday night we’re looking at lows in the lower single digits, with the wind chill below zero. So it’s definitely going to feel pretty chilly out there.”
The colder temperatures will be around through Saturday, and will start to warm up Sunday, Thompson said.
“You could also see a couple periods of light snow over the weekend,” Thompson said. “Right now I’d say maybe an inch or less.”
The National Weather Service issued a Hazardous Weather Outlook Thursday, stating that the wintery mix may result in locally slippery travel. Friday through next Wednesday gusty winds may reach close to advisory criteria, according to the National Weather Service.
Another winter storm is possible for Monday night into Tuesday, which may result in snow accumulation, according to the issued Hazardous Weather Outlook.