A strong Arctic shortwave rotating through portions of the northeast is setting off numerous snow showers and snow squalls, prompting the National Weather Service to issue numerous Snow Squall Warnings for the life threatening conditions they create. The greatest threat of snow squall activity is across New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania where the atmospheric dynamics, cold air, and moisture is just right to trigger the rare wintertime event. Some snow squalls will be accompanied by wind gusts in excess of 40mph and the visibility will drop briefly to a half mile or less. It’s also possible that a quick inch of snow may accumulate. These snow squalls have the potential to create dangerous conditions due to rapidly reduced visibility and instantly slick conditions on untreated surfaces. The National Weather Service warns, “Use extra caution if you must travel into or through these snow squalls and snow showers. Rapid changes in visibility and potentially slick roads are likely to lead to accidents. Consider delaying your travel until the snow passes your location.”
Snow Squall Warnings are being issued for portions of Pennsylvania & New Jersey.
Snow Squalls are extraordinarily dangerous & make driving impossible. DON’T TRAVEL THROUGH SNOW SQUALL WARNING AREAS; IF YOU FIND YOURSELF IN ONE, PULL OVER SAFELY & STOP DRIVING AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. pic.twitter.com/tBJn5HnYmp
— the Weatherboy (@theWeatherboy) March 28, 2022
Snow Squall Warnings are relatively new; they were introduced in November 2019. This warning, generally issued 30-60 minutes in duration, is issued in a way similar to severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings. The new warning aims to bring better situational awareness to drivers and mitigate impacts related to the squalls.
A snow squall is officially an intense short-lived burst of heavy snowfall that leads to quick reduction in visibilities and is often accompanied by gusty winds. Sudden white-out conditions and slick roadways can lead to high speed accidents with large pile-ups that may result in injuries and fatalities.
Sudden low visibilities is the primary concern with these squalls. While up to an inch is possible in some isolated areas, only a quick coating of snow is expected for most other areas impacted by these squalls. Winds may be come extremely gusty and strong during the squalls. But as with most squalls, the bad weather should race away just as quickly as it hits.
Current high-resolution, short-duration mesoscale computer forecast models project that squalls and snow showers will persist this afternoon and early evening before completely clearing by 7pm-8pm from west to east.