Winter returns as cold front sweeps through the Finger Lakes

finger lakes weather forecast janaury 4 2017 wind cold snow windchill
Temperatures will fall back into the 20s this afternoon, but will feel even colder with strong winds.

Temperatures will fall back into the 20s this afternoon, but will feel even colder with strong winds.

Temperatures Dive Today

The temperature has been consistently holding in the upper 30s and low 40s since Monday across the Finger Lakes. This morning is no exception, with mostly steady temperatures overnight.

However, colder air is racing west as low pressure north of Lake Ontario spins a cold front through the region.

This front will cross through the Finger Lakes during the midday and early afternoon hours.

There may be a bit of precipitation with the front, but it should be quick moving and generally not a cause for concern. This precipitation could be all rain, or a mix of rain and snow.

The temperature will drop as the front moves through. There will not be a sudden, extreme drop of several degrees in mere minutes, but over the course of two to three hours, temperatures should fall from the 30s back into the 20s.

In addition to the drop in afternoon temperatures, it will become quite windy, especially for areas west of Cayuga Lake, including Canandaigua, Geneva, and Penn Yan. Winds could gust to 45 mph over these locations, while the eastern Finger Lakes sees winds on the order of 35-40 mph.

The wind, combined with temperatures in the low and mid 20s, will make it feel like the single digits by this evening.

Also keep in mind that, as temperatures drop below freezing rather quickly this afternoon, some roads will get icy and some flash freezing may be possible.

lake effect snow accumulation map western new york tug hill lake erie lake ontario january 4 2017 janaury 5 2017 january 6 2017
Lake effect snow will gush off of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, but will mainly stay outside of the Finger Lakes. Click to enlarge.

Lake Effect Snow Develops

With low pressure sitting north of Lake Ontario pumping cold, but relatively moist air over the waters of the Great Lakes, conditions are ripe for heavy lake effect snow.

Lake effect snow will start to organize east of both Lake Ontario and Lake Erie as soon as this evening. The Lake Ontario band will be healthier, but snow off Lake Erie will become better organized on Thursday. Lake effect snow will continue through Friday, and possibly even linger into the weekend.

The winds throughout this event are expected to remain from the west or southwest. This will keep the vast majority of the snow out of the Finger Lakes. Travelers along I-90 south of Buffalo or along I-81 north of Oswego County should expect dangerous travel, however.

Some of the snow off of Lake Erie will make it into the Finger Lakes from time to time. A couple of inches could fall over a few areas that see a heavier squall or two. The best chance for this is over the eastern Finger Lakes, where some higher elevations often help enhance the snow off of Lake Erie under a west wind.

Outside of those stray squalls and occasional flurries, the Finger Lakes will remain mostly snow free.

Meteorologist Drew Montreuil
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Meteorologist Drew Montreuil has been forecasting the weather in the Finger Lakes region since 2006 and has degrees in meteorology from SUNY Oswego (B.S. with Honors) and Cornell (M.S.) When not forecasting, he can be found working at the local library, making soap, or playing with his two young boys.

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  1. […] FLX Weather Meteorologist Drew Montreuil notes that temperatures will dive throughout the day, as that cold front makes it’s way through the region. That will mean some spotty lake effect snow for some, but nothing that will have a serious impact on travel in the immediate area. […]