A Nor’easter that could dump up to 8 inches of snow may be on the way starting Sunday, while subzero temperatures are threatening dangerous windchills into this afternoon.
The National Weather Service in Binghamton issued a wind chill warning from 7 p.m. Friday through 1 p.m. today. Dangerously cold wind chills as low as 30 degrees below zero are expected. Wind chills could cause frostbite on exposed skin in as little as 30 minutes.
There is also a winter storm watch issued for Sunday through Monday afternoon, with snow accumulations of 7 inches or more. Affected areas for the wind chill warning and storm watch include northern and southern Oneida County, Onondaga, Madison, Cortland and Chenango counties. Towns and cities include Rome, Utica, Boonville, Oneida, Syracuse, Hamilton and Norwich.
Meteorologists warn that hazardous conditions could impact evening and morning commutes Sunday night into Monday from the storm, named Winter Storm Izzy.
In addition to bitter cold wind chills, temperatures are expected to stay in the single digits Saturday and then fall quickly back to below zero overnight Sunday. Due to the prolonged period of extremely cold conditions, area property owners are warned about the possibility of frozen pipes, meteorologists said.
During the period of the wind chill warning, people should avoid outdoor activities if possible and when going outside, make sure to wear proper cold weather clothing, such as coats, gloves/mittens and hats.
Binghamton Meteorologist Mark Pellerito said the region is entering a “busy pattern,” where it will be hard to tell when one storm system ends and another begins over the next few days.
Sunday’s storm system will definitely start as snow, he said, with the flakes beginning to fall in Rome at about midnight. “Where the uncertainties lie is once you get into Monday morning — the (storm) track could hit us and it may not,” Pellerito said. “The devil is in the details. You may get some sleet and freezing rain depending on how the track moves, which could cut back on the amount of snow you’ll get, but not the total precipitation.”
That said, the meteorologist warned that travel will be greatly impacted in the area regardless of whether the track moves east — which would dump more snow — or west, when it may bring the sleet and freezing rain. Travel will be impacted Sunday night into Monday morning.
“The forecast we have for Rome is in the 6-8 inches range,” Pellerito said. “Sometimes a coastal Nor’easter will park over us and stay a while, but that’s not the case for this system — it will be moving along very quickly.”
What will allow the system to push through quickly is the wind, and as the wind and low pressure passes by the region mid-day Monday, winds will pick up in the Northwest, Pellerito said.
“The Northwest winds usually bring lake effect,” he said. “It doesn’t look like a big pile of lake effect snow, but it will be around. We’re talking dryer snow with colder temperatures, followed by a weak, lower pressure clipper system whipping through Wednesday.”
The detailed long weekend forecast for Rome is calling for mostly sunny skies Saturday but cold, with a high near 5 degrees. However, wind chills will dip temperatures to a real feel of as low as -23 degrees. Saturday night will bring mostly clear skies with a low of around -11 degrees.
Sunday will start out sunny with a high near 22 degrees, with snow hitting overnight between midnight and 1 a.m., with a low of 12 degrees. Chance of snow is 80 percent.
On Martin Luther King Jr. Day Monday, the flakes will continue to accumulate with a high of 32 degrees. Chance of precipitation is 80 percent. Then a chance of snow showers will continue into Monday evening, and remain in the forecast through Wednesday.
Ray Tubbs, manager of the Runnings home, farm and outdoor store at 5949 Rome-Taberg Road, said he has everything from winter clothing to any item area residents may need to prepare their vehicles and homes to get them through this spell of frigid cold and abundant snow.
“We are actually in the middle of remodeling the store inside with a new set-up,” Tubbs said, with construction of an addition to the store to house a small engine repair shop and some snowblowers for sale starting later in the month.
As for preparing for all the snow and ice on the way, “We have rock salt, shovels, hats, gloves — anything you may need,” Tubbs said.
As temperatures could dip below zero for an extended period, the manager said Runnings also carries goods to help protect against frozen pipes.
“We have pipe insulation items — we have electric heat tapes — and we even sell small space heaters and salamanders (small round heaters) for garages or small rooms, and even kerosene heaters,” he said. “If you heat with wood pellets, we have plenty of pellets in stock for the weekend, and we’re not afraid of running out.”
In addition to winter clothing gear, Runnings also carries a variety of boots and footwear, and other items in case people will need to venture out into the inclement weather.
“We also have some collapsible shovels to keep in your car, and we’ve got blankets for you to throw in your car as well in case you get stuck somewhere,” Tubbs added.