What was behind Rochester's fierce winter storm? The 'Saskatchewan Screamer'

·10 min read

It conjures up dark images straight out of a low-budget horror flick. Or maybe it's the name of a wicked-fast roller coaster ride.

But the "Saskatchewan Screamer" behind the powerful storm that hammered a good chunk of the nation Monday is a close relative of another more familiar (although not necessarily friendly) winter weather pattern: the Alberta Clipper.

A Saskatchewan screamer system is the same pattern as the Alberta Clipper, but it is born in Saskatchewan, a Canadian province east of Alberta.

An Alberta Clipper is a rapid-fire storm system that generates smaller amounts of snow, generally 1 to 3 inches, according to Accuweather, although higher amounts are possible.

Alberta Clippers are low-pressure systems that develop on the lee side – the side away from the wind – of the Canadian Rockies. They get caught up in the jet stream and travel southeastward into the northern Plains, move into the Great Lakes and eventually roll off the mid-Atlantic coast into the Atlantic Ocean, Accuweather says.

Clippers generally bring colder temperatures and often gusty winds along with the speedy burst of snow. The term "clipper" is said to originate from the clipper sailing ships in the 19th century because of their speed.

Clippers typically cause only light snow since they're what meteorologists call "moisture-starved." However, if conditions are favorable, some Alberta Clippers can rapidly intensify off the East Coast once the storm taps the relatively warm, moist air over the Atlantic Ocean.

Cities such as Minneapolis, Chicago, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C., are often the biggest cities to see this type of storm, according to the Vane, Gawker's weather website.

When the systems are spawned in Manitoba, they are sometimes referred to as "Manitoba Maulers."

The weekend "screamer" left over a foot of snow in Des Moines, Iowa. After rolling through parts of the Southeast, the system moved northward, creating a dangerous mix of snow, sleet, rain and wind up the Eastern Seaboard.

(Susan Miller, USA Today)

Here's a look back at the storm in Rochester.

Snow comes fast, piles deep in New York

"WOW! Latest snow measurement at 1 AM was 4.6 inches in the last hour at the Buffalo Airport!" the National Weather Service in Buffalo tweeted. "Widespread snow/sleet to continue this morning."

Parts of New York state were expecting up to 18 inches of snow before the storm moves away sometime Tuesday. But even that sounded conservative as Lockport, in Niagara County north of Buffalo, already had 16 inches early Monday.

In the Hudson Valley, the snow was falling at up to 2 inches per hour, made worse by wind conditions and blowing snow, the Weather Service in Albany warned.

Rochester NY winter storm photos

Mall at Greece Ridge closes due to storm; AAA warns motorists that roads are 'treacherous'

Due to inclement weather, The Mall at Greece Ridge announced it would be closed on Monday.

In a Facebook post, the mall advised that some of it stores might remain open.

"Department stores, entertainment, and restaurant hours may vary so please call them directly, phone numbers can be found on our website, " the post said.

Eastview Mall in Victor remained open Monday morning, as did the Marketplace Mall in Henrietta.

A travel advisory remains in effect for Monroe County, and AAA reports that roads are treacherous and they are receiving a high volume of calls for roadside assistance.

"Many drivers are getting stuck in their own driveways and are calling AAA to pull them out of snow drifts," a statement said. "AAA advises motorists to stay home except for emergencies."

How much snow has fallen so far in Rochester NY?

The National Weather Service in Buffalo shared some early-morning midday snowfall tallies from around Monroe County as the snow continues to fall throughout the Rochester region on Monday.

As of 1 p.m., 10.0 inches of snow had fallen at the Frederick Douglass Greater Rochester International Airport since the storm first hit Rochester Sunday evening, according to the Weather Service. During the same time frame, 17.8 inches had fallen at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport, as of noon Monday.

Here are some snow totals reported from other locations throughout the greater Rochester region:

  • Rochester: 10 inches as of 1 p.m.

  • Canandaigua: 11.5 inches at 9:35 a.m.

  • Victor: 11.3 inches at 9:45 a.m.

  • Henrietta: 12 inches at 10:30 a.m.

  • Churchville: 11 inches at 11 a.m.

  • Holley: 13 inches at 11:30 a.m.

  • Penfield : 11 inches at 12 p.m.

  • LeRoy: 16.0 inches at 12:09 p.m.

  • Buffalo: 17.8 inches as of 1 p.m.

Many flights canceled at Rochester NY airport due to winter snowstorm

Most of the flights scheduled to arrive and depart the Frederick Douglass Greater Rochester International Airport on Monday have been canceled or delayed due to the wintry weather, said airport director Andy Moore.

Among those – flights to and from airports near New York City, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

“The storm coming through the northeast canceled flights all over the country,” Moore said. “Most incoming and outgoing flights were canceled due to the weather, and I expect that to continue today as the storm intensifies.”

He said airlines started canceling flights due to the storm on Sunday.

Anyone scheduled to travel on Monday or Tuesday should check with your airline carrier regarding your flight’s status or to rebook a canceled flight.

Crews at the airport are working to clear and groom runways and ramps for any flights that do use the airport, Moore said.

More: Winter storm moves north: Fast snowfall shocks forecasters as flights canceled, power outages continue

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Travel advisory issued for Monroe County NY as winter storm hits area

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello late Sunday night issued a “no unnecessary travel” advisory for Monroe County. Heavy snow and high winds have created poor road conditions, with whiteouts and poor visibility.

“Road crews from Monroe County, City of Rochester, towns and villages along with New York State are working now to keep roads open for emergency vehicles and travel that is necessary and urgent,” Bello said in a news release.

The county’s Office of Emergency Management will monitor the changing weather and road conditions throughout the storm, Bello said.

“If you do not need to travel, please stay home so our local and state government partners can safely and efficiently respond to this storm,” Bello said.

The advisory remains in effect until further notice.

Closings in Rochester NY

The Seneca Park Zoo and the Lamberton Conservatory in Highland Park will be closed Monday due to the winter storm. Both the zoo and the conservatory will reopen at 10 a.m. on Tuesday.

Although classes were aready not in session Monday due to the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, several area colleges have closed their campuses for the day due to the weather. Among them:

The Rochester Institute of Technology in Henrietta is closed its campus Monday due to the weather. All events and activities planned for campus Monday are canceled.

Nazareth College in Pittsford also closed due to the weather. A planned MLK Day Commemoration will take place via Zoom from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

St. John Fisher College in Pittsford also closed its campus Monday due to the storm. All extracurricular and athletic activities scheduled for Monday at the campus are canceled. Lavery Library, the Bookstore and the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Athletic Center are also closed.

Snowfall Totals: How much snow will the Rochester region get Sunday and Monday? See projected snowfall totals

Look Back: Here are the biggest snowstorms in Rochester history

How NY is readying for snowstorm: 'Be prepared for the worst'

Estimated snow totals for the storm for Jan. 16 to Jan. 18, 2022.
Estimated snow totals for the storm for Jan. 16 to Jan. 18, 2022.

At a noon news conference in Albany County, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul advised New Yorkers to “prepare for the worst” with regards to the winter storm expected to wallop parts of New York with 12 to 18 inches of snow. Anyone who needs to travel this holiday weekend should do so during the day on Sunday, before the expected snow starts falling in the Empire State.

Folks who can stay home during the storm should do so, she said. Those who must travel during the storm should properly prepare. For example, she said, charge your phone, bring food, water, blankets and extra clothes.

The state Department of Transportation and Thruway Authority are prepared to plow and clear roads, with more than 3,400 workers available to clear roads.

Utility companies are prepared should power fail as a result of high winds accompanying the storm.

New York Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Acting Commissioner Jackie Bray during the news conference said that her major concern is that the rate of expected snowfall is predicted between 1 and 3 inches per hour, which is in the range when state officials ask motorists to steer clear of the roads.

Plows, Bray said, will be working around the clock. She reminded motorists to drive slowly in snow and not to pass snowplows, which travel at 35 mph, as they clear roads.

“Just be careful, be smart,” Hochul said.

Winter storm timing in Rochester NY

Weather Service meteorologist Liz Jurkowski said that the storm, which is moving north, arrived on the New York- Pennsylvania border around 7 p.m. and should reach Rochester late Sunday and throughout Monday.

Snow will be followed by some sleet around midnight before the heaviest snow is expected to fall in the Rochester region early Monday through later in the morning including during Monday's morning commute, she said.

Travel could be very difficult to impossible for those who need to travel during the Monday morning and evening commutes. Significant blowing and drifting snow is expected on Monday. Jurkowski said that the highest wind gusts are expected along the Lake Ontario lakeshore.

How much snow will New York get?

Charles Truitt of Genesee Park Boulevard in Rochester clears snow from the sidewalk in front of his house.
Charles Truitt of Genesee Park Boulevard in Rochester clears snow from the sidewalk in front of his house.

Here are the projected snowfall totals for areas in New York.

  • Albany: 6 to 14 inches

  • Binghamton: 5 to 9 inches

  • Auburn: 7 to 10 inches

  • Elmira: 5 to 9 inches

  • Poughkeepsie: 3 to 7 inches

  • Buffalo: 12 to 20 inches

  • Lake Placid: 6 to 13 inches, 18 inches at higher elevations

  • Batavia: 12 to 20 inches

  • Rochester: 10 to 14 inches

  • Niagara Falls: 12 to 20 inches

  • Utica: 5 to 9 inches

  • Syracuse: 5 to 9 inches

  • Canandaigua: 8 to 12 inches

  • Saratoga Springs: 6 to 14 inches

  • Watkins Glen: 7 to 10 inches

  • Seneca Falls: 7 to 10 inches

  • Bath: up to 12 inches

  • Hornell: up to 12 inches

  • Ithaca: 5 to 9 inches

  • Newark: 10 to 14 inches

  • Warsaw: 12 to 20 inches

  • Penn Yan: up to 12 inches

NYSEG and RG&E prep for Winter Storm Izzy

A snow plow heads on Arnett Boulevard toward Genesee Street to clear snow from secondary roads.
A snow plow heads on Arnett Boulevard toward Genesee Street to clear snow from secondary roads.

New York State Electric & Gas and Rochester Gas and Electric are preparing for significant snowfall associated with Winter Storm Izzy expected to impact the entire Rochester region. As a result of the storm, customers may experience service disruptions.

In preparation for the event, the companies have pre-staged more than 1,500 resources, including line and tree personnel, damage assessors and wire guards, across the state to assist with restoration efforts. Company and contractor crews will be onsite and prepared to facilitate an effective and efficient response should outages occur.

The line and tree crews will be prepared to respond to any snow or wind related issues with bucket trucks, auger trucks, wood chippers, dump trucks and backhoes.

NYSEG and RG&E will provide updates throughout the event to the general public on their website and social media channels.

Winter storm cancels hundreds of flights

This article originally appeared on Rochester Democrat and Chronicle: Rochester NY Weather: Winter storm pummels Monroe County with snow