High Wind/Heavy Snow Event
The largest storm, meteorologically, to hit the Northeast
during the winter of 1996/97 spread rain, very heavy wet snow , and high winds into the
Northeast. The system developed over the Ohio valley during the afternoon and evening of
Wednesday the 5th. A strong upper level disturbance working on a sharp temperature
contrast zone over the eastern half of the country generated the surface low which began
deepening over Kentucky midday Wednesday. The storm tracked to near Pittsburgh Wednesday
night with a central pressure around 1008mb at 7pm. By 1am Thursday the center was between
Elmira, NY and Binghamton with a pressure of 1004mb. The low then deepened rapidly between
1am and 7am with the pressure falling to 998mb at Boston. By 1pm Thursday, the system had
raced to the western tip of Nova Scotia with a very low pressure of about 975mb. Finally,
well out over the Canadian Maritimes at 7pm the storm's pressure was 966mb. The storm's
pressure dropped 42 millibars in 24 hours, which is considered a moderate bomb.
The following is an hour by hour listing of the winds at
Albany from 7am Thursday morning until 2pm, during the height of the winds.
Wind was not the only major element to this storm system.
Extremely heavy snow fell across northern New York and northern New England, and moderate
rain fell across the central and southern parts of the region. Between a half inch and an
inch of rain fell on average with .61" measured at Albany and .73" measured at
WRGB in Niskayuna. As the storm deepened while moving through the northeast, the pressure
falls induced a north, northeast wind which drained down cold air from Canada. That cold
air supported the single heaviest snow fall of the season for much of northeastern New
York and the mountains in Vermont. Most areas in that zone reported one to two feet of
snow. The rain snow line was a sharp one running from Fulton county east through Saratoga,
southern Washington county in New York through northern Bennington county in Vermont. The
following chart is selection of some of the local snowfalls from this storm.