Heavy Snow/Ice Storm-Bitter Cold
Thursday through Friday Jan 14-15, 1999

The final and largest in the series of storms that brought bouts of wintry weather to the Northeast during the weak of January 10th began during the morning of January 14.  The stage was set for a large, long duration, winter storm with the arrival of the coldest air mass of the season to date during the evening and nighttime hours on the 13th. Temperatures fell to a low at Albany of -9 on the morning of the 14th with an exceptionally high barometric pressure of 30.79".   Low pressure, developing on the old arctic frontal boundary in the Tennessee valley, produced a broad overrunning pattern of moisture over the shallow arctic air over the Northeast producing light snow during the morning.  Snow became steadier and heavier through the late morning and afternoon. By 5pm, about seven inches of snow had accumulated in the greater Capital District. The water to snow ratio was almost 20:1 meaning and inch of water would have become twenty inches of snow.  In other words, the snow which had fallen was extremely light and fluffy and about double in depth that it would have otherwise been had temperatures been higher and the water content of the snow greater.  Temperatures on the 14th failed to break 0 at Albany during the day.   In fact, the daytime high temperature at Albany was -2.  The old myth that it can be to cold to snow was strongly disproved with this storm. On average, seven to eleven inches of fluffy light snow accumulated in much of the region by midnight.

Precipitation became light and intermittent during the evening of the 14th into the early morning hours on the 15th as the initial overrunning pattern weakened and moved east.  Warmer air above the ground also worked in during this time period changing the snow over to light sleet and freezing rain from the Capital region and southern Vermont on southward.

During the early morning of the 15th, a new, weak, wave of low pressure developed near the Delmarva peninsula and produced a second strong overrunning pattern that tapped moisture from both the gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic to produce a second significant round of precipitation.  Concurrently, warm air was flooding the region in the mid levels of the atmosphere but not at the ground.  Temperatures remained below freezing at low elevations through the morning and early afternoon, but rose to between 35 and 40 above 1000'.  The net result was an extended period of moderate to heavy at times sleet and freezing rain.  Icing began during the pre-dawn hours and continued into the early afternoon.  Ice accumulations ranged from 1/4" to 1/2" in the area producing scattered power outages and road closures.  At the height of the ice storm, during the morning of the 15th, the Northway between exits 17 and 23 was closed in both directions due to heavy icing.

The coastal low picked up a little speed and moved northeast over southeastern New England during the afternoon of the 15th, pushing the overrunning pattern east of the Capital Region.  Deep layered cold air returned by 12:30 pm in the Capital District changing the freezing rain and sleet back to snow.  Snow continued through early to mid afternoon before tapering off and ending.  Snow ended in western New England during the late afternoon and evening.  Additional snow accumulations were light, generally one to three inches.  A grand total of 11" of snow accumulated at Albany, the largest snowfall from a single storm since the Nor'easter on March 31, 1997.  The table below is a listing of the reported total snow accumulations from this storm.

City County Snow Accumulation City County Snow Accumulation
Albany Albany 11.0" Niskayuna Schenectady 10.0"
Scotia Schenectady 13.0" Gloversville Fulton 16.0"
Greenville Greene 9.5" Piseco Hamilton 12.0"
Fultonville Montgomery 11.0" Troy Rensselaer 9.5"
Saratgoa Springs Saratoga 9.5" Queensbury Warren 8.5"
Platt Clove Greene 9.2" Middleburgh Schoharie 9.5"
Central Bridge Schoharie 11.4" Inlet Herkimer 6.0"
Dalton Berkshire 6.0" Great Barrington Berkshire 6.0"