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Flash freeze may impact holiday travel for Central New Yorkers

A satellite image of the United State shows large white clouds swirling over most of the country except for parts of the southwest.
National Weather Service
A satellite image of the United State shows large white clouds swirling over most of the country except for parts of the southwest, Dec. 22, 2022.

An incoming winter storm and rare weather event known as a flash freeze may impact holiday travel in the Central New York region.

A winter storm bringing snow to other parts of the country will initially bring heavy rain to Central New York, but then temperatures are expected to plummet Friday, according to the National Weather Service.

Meteorologist Mark Pellerito said the change will bring icy conditions later that day, which could make it dangerous to drive.

“Anything that will be sopping wet at that time—which after a bunch of rain will be the case as well as snow melt—will freeze over. Roads will rapidly become icy with some rain changing to snow on top of that," Pellerito said.

Pellerito said he expects Friday afternoon to be the most dangerous time to travel because of the freezing conditions, and for those traveling west, a blizzard warning is predicting up to 3 feet of snow in Western New York.

“If you're heading on, say, the New York Thruway by Buffalo, and points south of there, or if you're heading north of Syracuse, especially to the east of Lake Ontario, there could be some very heavy lake effect snows with some very gusty winds drifting, blowing and drifting snow," he said.

The storm will also bring strong winds, which will send wind chills into the single digits. Pellerito said that by Christmas, Western and Central New Yorkers will be in an "arctic wonderland."

For those who must travel, Pellerito said to prepare a kit with food, water and warm clothing for your car.

“Always monitor the latest weather forecasts and conditions. And also make sure you know, if it turns out that you slip off into a ditch somewhere, you're not going to be the only one. There are going to be a lot of people who need help at the same time.”

Emergency response times may be delayed because of weather conditions, he said.

Karl Winter is a graduate student studying broadcast and digital journalism at Syracuse University's Newhouse School of Public Communications, expected to graduate in May 2023. As a multimedia reporter, Karl helps produce audio and digital content for WAER. Karl moved to Syracuse from Stockton, California, and attended undergraduate college at Pepperdine University in Malibu.