Weather settles down through the weekend

finger lakes weather forecast thursday march 15 2018 cold wind snow
The weather will settle down for the end of the week, but it will remain cold and breezy through the weekend. [Photo by Nanci McCraine]

Low Impact Weather

The Finger Lakes will get a break in the weather for the next several days with only a brief period with some minor lake effect snow.

The lake effect snow from Wednesday has finally shifted out of the Finger Lakes as winds become more westerly and dry air begins to work in.

Some breaks of sun should manage to work their way out as early as this morning and should continue into the afternoon.

There is a small disturbance in the jet stream over Ohio that will drift towards us this evening with a few scattered areas of snow. Then, in the wake of this system, a brief period of lake effect will be possible across the Finger Lakes early Friday morning.

Total snow accumulations from this snow will generally be an inch or less, with perhaps two inches in some localized squalls.

Friday afternoon should then turn sunny, with more sun than clouds throughout the weekend.

Temperatures will remain cold though. Highs today will reach the mid 30s, but Friday will end up only reaching the upper 20s. Low 30s are likely this weekend, with Sunday a couple degrees cooler than Saturday. For comparison, average highs are now in the low 40s, so these temperatures are 7 to 15 degrees below normal.

Winds will also remain blustery, especially on Friday. Winds will shift between west and northwest through Sunday when they finally begin to taper off and shift to the south.

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

A couple quick notes on Wednesday’s snow. The forecast held up pretty good until the late afternoon and evening hours.  Instead of gradually tapering off, an intense band of very heavy snow set up from northwest to southeast, impacting much of Cayuga, Tompkins, and Tioga counties.

Lake effect snow is an extremely complex and sensitive phenomenon. Much like severe thunderstorms, there are a number of ingredients that have to come together properly to produce big-time weather. Lake effect is also so small scale that it is often difficult to get a good sense of what it will do more than 24 hours in advance.

This phenomenon is quite unique and nowhere else in the world gets lake effect snow on the scale that the Great Lakes do. Every event, well forecast or otherwise, is another opportunity to study and learn about this amazing weather.

Now, looking forward, the media is already latching onto the next system in the works for early next week.

We are still too far out to nail anything down, but the models have been doing a very good job identifying potential storms this month, often a week or more in advance.

The European Ensemble suite, which continues to outperform most other models, is, in fact, more aggressive with the snow potential over our region than it has been for the last couple of systems. That being said, there is still a wide variety of snow amounts and even the timing of the system.

What does this all mean? Yes, there is something worth watching next week. No, it is not for sure that we are going to get heavy or even any snow from it. But, rest assured that I have already been monitoring this system for several days and will continue to do so through the weekend.

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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 goat milk soap, running until his legs burn, or playing with his three young boys.