Monday, February 17, 2014

Cold Outbreak

The clouds on the southwestern horizon were the tops of the 240 to 260 degree snow squall over Lake Ontario. Cold outbreaks are typical behind the winter storms like the one that kept me studio-stayed the day before. The cloud types and shapes tell the entire story if you know how to read the signs. You would not want to drive south through the snow squall. The Watertown radar did show some of the intensity of the snow squall but even though it was close to the event the radar beam still overshot much of the very low level fury of the flurries. King City radar has a low initial beam elevation and revealed the genesis of the snow squall over the western basin of Lake Ontario.

A meteorologist has to connect the dots to analyze the full extent of the weather. Snow squalls can have the same impact as the most severe summer outbreak of convection. When the wind shifts to 230 or 240 degrees, these snow squalls are directed to Singleton Lake. If the wind shifts any more to the south the over lake fetch is generally not enough or cold enough for the snow squall process.

The title could have just as easily been “Snow Squall” but squalls and cold outbreaks go hand in hand so they are close to being the same thing. It was the cold and the wind that pushed me inside and that explains my choice for the title. The westerly winds were chilly enough to push me back inside to my studio window. The blustery winds knocked the remaining snow off the boughs of the red cedars while I painted. At least I started this outside. It was quite a winter for painting. Note that off-lake flurries started just at sunset. 

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