MASSENA - The majority of the northeastern United States in under a severe weather alert, and the north country is no exception. Officials with the National Weather Service (NWS) are estimating that a low-pressure winter storm system will drop 10 to 15 inches of snow across Franklin, St. Lawrence, Jefferson, and Lewis counties by Friday morning. The winter storm that brought a white Christmas, damaging tornadoes and flight cancellations to millions of Americans has a name: Euclid.
NWS meteorologist Scott Whittier said the storm will reach the Canadian border by midnight, give or take two hours. He estimates Malone will see snow by 11 p.m., with Watertown and Gouverneur seeing their first glimpses of white around 9 p.m. The heaviest snowfall will occur Thursday between the pre-dawn and afternoon hours, according to Whittier. He added that the snow will be piling up at a rate of 1 to 2 inches per hour. Freezing rain and sleet are not forecasted.
Travel conditions will be hazardous, Whittier said, adding that the area is overdue for just such a storm.
Winds are expected at 15 to 25 miles per hour, with the St. Lawrence Valley area possibly seeing gusts up to 35 mph. Temperatures for Thursday throughout Northern New York are projected by the NWS to have highs averaging around 27ºF, with lows averaging around 18ºF.
National Weather Observer Dave Werner of Malone said the storm system is a typical Noreaster. The term is used to describe a low-pressure storm system, which always spins in a counter-clockwise direction and in this case is moving north, that appears to have winds blowing from the northeast.
He said the system that is currently crawling up the east coast started out as a parent storm in the Tennessee Valley that moved toward the Ohio River Valley, then combined with a low-pressure center off of the New Jersey coast.
[The low-pressure system] will suck up energy from the parent storm and become the dominate low-pressure system, Werner said. Its got a good supply of moisture (Atlantic Ocean), a good supply of cold air – that means its a good, significant storm.
Werner said if Malone gets 12 inches of snow from the storm, it will rank among the areas top 15 snowstorms of the last 30 years, tying at 14th place with Dec. 6-8, 1984 and Jan. 4-5, 1994 when similar storms left behind 12 inches. He said if the storm leaves 15 inches, it will be the biggest December storm that Malone has ever seen. The current record holder of that title is Dec. 5-8, 2010, which dropped 14 inches.
Although the storm may cause travel difficulties and sore arms from shoveling, the estimated precipitation will bring the area to normal levels for the time of year. Werner said so far, the area has had 10 inches of precipitation; December normally sees 21 inches. He added that the normal amount of season-to-date precipitation is 28.6 inches – so far 14.5 inches has fallen.
Johnson Newspapers reporters Roger DuPuis and Christopher Robbins contributed to this story.