Complex Winter Weather Event
The first phase of a complex winter weather event continues Tuesday morning across the Finger Lakes, with phases two and three expected to unfold throughout the day and into Wednesday.
An area of low pressure is tracking directly over the Finger Lakes this morning. Widespread snow is accompanying this low pressure system, with the heaviest accumulations across the northern and western Finger Lakes.
Further east, temperatures are near or even above freezing. This, combined with more on-and-off precipitation, have kept snow amounts low thus far.
Fairly steady snow will continue for the I-390 and I-90 corridors through the morning while areas further south and east see some bursts of heavy snow alternating with breaks in the precipitation.
Phase two of the storm will begin later this morning as arctic air begins to move in behind the low pressure system as it tracks off to the northeast. For areas already north and west of the low, the temperature will simply get colder than it already is.
However, for areas south and east of the low, the passage of the arctic cold front may be marked by a heavy snow squall with near white-out conditions. Furthermore, temperatures will quickly drop below freezing, leading to a possible flash freeze.
This could make travel very hazardous this afternoon as the wetness on the roads quickly turns to ice.
The third phase of this system will develop tonight as lake effect snow gushes off of Lake Ontario and into the Finger Lakes. The lake effect should persist overnight and into Wednesday before it dissipates Wednesday afternoon.
Snow Amounts- MODERATE
There will be moderate impacts from snow accumulations during this event. Snow will make travel difficult in many areas, but no one should get buried with a huge amount of snow.
Some parts of the Finger Lakes will end up wondering what the fuss was all about with only a couple inches falling.
The heaviest snow accumulations, including what has already fallen, will be across the northern and far western Finger Lakes, where both phases one and three will dump moderate amounts of snow.
Lowest snow totals will be across the central Southern Tier where temperatures this morning are warm and lake effect snow will be more limited.
The accompanying snow map is only for NEW snow accumulations from 7 am Tuesday through 2 pm Wednesday and does NOT include what fell Monday night.
Wind & Wind Chill- MODERATE
Winds will increase during the day today with gusts over 30 mph becoming common. These winds will continue overnight.
On Wednesday, the winds may increase even more, with gusts over 40 mph possible.
This will cause areas of blowing and drifting snow, which will hamper efforts to keep roads clean.
Additionally, the wind will reduce visibility further during heavier snow squalls with near white-out conditions likely at times.
As temperatures drop into the teens tonight, wind chills will fall to +5 to -5 degrees. High temperatures Wednesday will only be around 20 degrees, keeping the wind chills near 0 degrees.
Flash Freeze/Ice- HIGH (Eastern/Southern FLX)
The potential for a flash freeze event is high across the eastern and southern Finger Lakes.
A flash freeze is where temperatures quickly fall below 32 degrees, causing a rapid freezing of water and slush on roadways.
Travel can become very hazardous during a flash freeze.
Areas that may experience a flash freeze include Corning, Elmira, Ithaca, Cortland, and Syracuse.
This is expected to occur Tuesday afternoon and may be accompanied by a heavy snow squall.