With little snow falling over the past few weeks, are there any signs of winter’s return to the Finger Lakes?
Short Term: Through January 24
The weather over the next seven days does not look favorable for snow in the Finger Lakes.
In fact, temperatures will only go up for most of this time period.
Today, Wednesday, will be a dreary and cool day. Fog, drizzle and scattered rain showers will persist through much of the day, and temperatures will change very little. Most places will hover in the upper 30s to near 40 degrees.
Thursday will be a bit dryer, but will still be quite cloudy with a shower or two in the morning. Temperatures will be near to slightly above 40 degrees.
Friday and Sunday will both see temperatures well into the 40s, with a few locations flirting with 50 degrees. Saturday, too, will at least see the 40s, but there is a chance for even warmer temperatures well into the 50s.
Precipitation over these three days will be limited to some showers Friday night. These will be all rain.
A new storm system will press into the Finger Lakes next Monday and Tuesday. There could be a little ice as this system first comes in, but again, most of the precipitation will be rain.
Between now and next Tuesday, no snow is expected anywhere in the Finger Lakes.
Medium Range: January 25-31
The weather has a few chances to turn more wintry for the last week in January. Given that this is still two weeks away, it is key to remember that uncertainty is very high. At this range, it is possible to begin to get an educated guess about the day to day weather, but specifics are dicey at best.
One excellent tool in this range is called an ensemble suite. This is a package of computer simulations where the same model is run about 50 times, each using slightly different conditions and/or equations to simulate the weather. Ensembles give a broad look at what may be possible and give a general sense for how possible an event may be, based on how many of the ensembles show the event.
Still, even if 40 out of 50 ensemble members show an event, the 10 that don’t may be right, or all 50 can be wrong. Ensembles, like any computer model, are a tool, but should not be taken as gospel truth!
The ensembles for the European model, which is typically the most accurate model, do show a few chances for snow. About 10-20% of the ensemble members have been consistently showing a moderate to heavy snow event on or around the 25th. Will it happen? Probably not. There are also a few ensemble members that show temperatures pushing 60 degrees at the same time! It is something to keep a watch on over the coming days.
Most ensemble members show snow in the closing days of January. Much of this snow is light, on the order of a couple of inches. The ensembles show temperatures in this time in the 30s, which makes me doubt the models are seeing lake effect or any harsh winter weather. There are a handful of ensemble members that show little to no snow.
Long Range: February
The jury on what to expect in February remains out. At this range, we are mostly looking at general trends for temperatures and the large-scale weather patterns.
The longer range computer models seem to be having a difficult time with February, flip-flopping back and forth between a warmer than normal and colder than normal month.
The general sense I gather, however, is that the first third of February may turn out colder and stormier than the later two-thirds.
The ensemble solutions that do bring heavy snow to the Figner Lakes seem to do it during early February, possibly through an active storm track along the east coast.
By the middle of the month, however, the storm track may reset itself back to our west, where it has been for most of January, resulting in more up and down temperature swings and generally warmer than normal weather.
This is, of course, still very preliminary. However, the overall trends are not looking great for snow lovers.
If snow, and by virtue overall precipitation, remain below normal through the remainder of the winter, the slight drought that lingers will persist into the Spring.