For a region as winter-weary as ours, any signs of a warm up is sure to cause a lot of hope and excitement. Here is a no-hype look at what we can expect next week in the Finger Lakes.
First, a crash course in global weather patterns. The jet stream is a ribbon of strong winds in the upper atmosphere, about 35,000 feet above the ground, that continually circle the globe. There are a number of jet streams across the globe and even over the United States at any given time.
The jet stream is responsible for steering weather patterns and air masses and generally corresponds to a separation of cold air to its north and warm air to its south. When the jet stream dips south, it is called a trough. When it pushes north, it is a ridge.
Most of the winter, we have been in a deep trough that has given us direct access to the coldest air in the hemisphere over northern Canada and even Siberia. Finally, at least for a few days next week, that trough will ease as a ridge builds over the middle of the continent.
As the jet stream bulges north into south-central Canada, warm air will take hold across the Great Plains and Midwest. Meanwhile, the bitter cold air will get locked away over eastern Canada. In between these two air masses, near the jet stream, is where temperatures will warm somewhat, but will also probably bounce around from day to day.
The Finger Lakes is in this zone. The core of the warm air will be well to our southwest, while the core of the cold will be lurking relatively near by to our north. I expect we will get modified bits and pieces of both air masses next week.
Still, any moderation in temperatures, when combined with the increasingly strong March sun, will be a big improvement to our weather. Instead of temperatures in the 30s being a rare thing, this should become more of the normal next week. We may even be able to sneak in a couple days above 40º. Low temperatures should be well above 0º.
It should also be a fairly quiet week, with high pressure at the surface in control of most of the region. The warmer temperatures and sunny skies next week should do a decent job reducing some of the snow pack in a nice, gradual way that will not lead to widespread flooding problems. Localized ice jams will still be possible though.
It isn’t spring, but it is a move in the right direction at least!
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