A storm brewing in Western New York has all the ingredients of a blockbuster, and a team at the New York State Mesonet is tracking the potential for severe weather statewide.
As people around Buffalo and Central New York prepare for what’s poised to be a heavy snow event, weather experts in Albany were watching closely.
“This is the kind of storm that stresses all of the ways that you collect data,” said Nick Bassill, director of research and development at the UAlbany Center of Excellence in Weather and Climate Analytics.
The New York State Mesonet is a network of 126 weather stations plotted across the state that collect and report live data 24/7.
“We are the first ones, the only one, to have this very comprehensive winter weather monitoring,” New York State Mesonet Interim Program Manager June Wang said.
It monitors everything from temperatures, wind speed and precipitation type. In this case, it’ll be snow. Lots of it.
“This thing is called SR50A," Wang said. "It’s basically sonic waves sent to the ground, stays there and listens to how long does it take for it to hear it and measures the distance from here to the ground.”
With snow piling up, the difference will be your snow depth. It’s useful data that is shared with state leaders and first responders.
“An example, a utility might care about how much heavy, wet snow versus dry snow,” Bassill said.
While no two storms are the same, experts said being familiar with the different patterns and data helps with preparedness.
“For a situation like a lake-effect storm, we know that Buffalo get four feet of snow, but if you go a north or south, they don’t," Bassill said. "So knowing that in advance really helps.”
The information is also available to the general public at www2.nysmesonet.org.
“It’s a real-time display of winter weather conditions,” Wang said. There were several stations reporting snowfall Thursday afternoon, including in Camden, where 11 inches had fallen throughout the day.
“If you click that, it’ll give you all the information about that site,” Wang noted.