Winter Tightens Icy Grip
Winter will continue to unleash bitter cold air on the Finger Lakes as arctic air streams south from Canada.
Temperatures Wednesday morning are mostly in the mid and upper single digits across the central and northern Finger Lakes with near-zero and low single-digit readings elsewhere.
Winds will turn more northerly today, tapping into yet more cold air that will move into the region.
Afternoon highs today will range from the low to mid-teens. However, with wind gusts of 25-30 mph, the wind chill will make it feel more like +5 to -5 during the day and as cold as -15 during the evening hours.
With the wind shift, lake effect snow will also push south into the Finger Lakes from Lake Ontario.
Initially, just a small, narrow band will drop south this morning, first across Wayne, Northern Cayuga, and Onondaga County. A quick burst of heavy snow is likely with an inch or so of accumulation in under an hour.
This band will weaken as it tracks further south and should spread from roughly Batavia to Ithaca this afternoon.
In the band’s wake, a spray of flurries and squalls will develop with the heaviest bands across the northern Finger Lakes.
Accumulations will generally be on the light side, partially because the air is so cold that the snowflakes will be thin and needle-like rather than big puffy flakes. A few places near Lake Ontario could see 3-6 inches while most other areas see less than two inches.
Wind Chill Advisories
Wind Chill Advisories are in place for most of the Finger Lakes, with the exception of the counties along Lake Ontario and in the far west.
Temperatures tonight will drop a few degrees colder than they are this morning, with sub-zero readings away from the lakes and single digits near the lakes and across the northern areas.
During the day Thursday, temperatures will struggle to warm. Most areas will fail to get out of the single digits. Those that do will only just get above 10 degrees.
Wind chill values during the morning and evening will be between -10 and -20 degrees with sub-zero wind chills lingering all day.
Frostbite can occur in less than 30 minutes with these wind chill values.
Thursday night and Friday morning may be even a bit colder. The winds will be lighter, but should still send windchills to the negative teens.
Briefly Warm Up Comes With a Price
Temperatures will start to moderate slightly Friday into Saturday.
High temperatures Friday will rise into the mid and upper teens while Saturday may even reach 20 degrees in a few places.
This “warm-up” will be the result of a disorganized weather system that will spread some light snow showers through the area Friday into Saturday.
Accumulations with this system will be on the order of an inch or two.
A stronger storm will then take shape over the Atlantic Ocean, opening the Finger Lakes back up to bitter north winds on Sunday.
With highs only in the mid to upper single digits, winds will gust as high as 40 mph on New Year’s Eve. This will send wind chills back into the danger zone, especially Sunday morning.
Generally speaking, the bitter cold is expected to remain in place well into the new year.