Dangerous Cold Returns
The Finger Lakes is bracing itself for a shot of extreme cold and lake effect snow that will persist into the weekend.
An arctic cold front is crossing the Finger Lakes this morning with little fanfare, but a large dome of arctic air behind it.
Meanwhile, a strong coastal storm continues to move north off the coast of the Mid-Atlantic.
Combined, these two features will work together to bring the coldest air we have seen yet this winter into the region.
After high temperatures in the teens today, temperatures will fall below zero for most areas overnight.
Some places may not rise back above zero degrees until Sunday with highs Friday and Saturday near or below zero.
What makes this cold especially dangerous, however, will be the wind.
Frequent gusts of 30-40 mph will develop Thursday afternoon and continue through Saturday night. Some of the strongest winds, with gusts near 40 mph, will come Friday afternoon.
Combined with the bitter cold, these winds will create dangerous wind chills as low as -30 degrees all across the Finger Lakes and at all hours of the day.
Wind chills this cold can cause frostbite to exposed skin in as little as 10 minutes. Wind Chill Warnings have been issued for this threat.
Please take the cold seriously and limit time outdoors. If you must go out, make sure to cover exposed skin completely.
Lake Effect Snow Trouble
To make matters worse, lake effect snow is likely to be a constant presence during this cold blitz, especially over the northern and eastern Finger Lakes.
Lake snows will develop by late Thursday afternoon, even as the cold front and coastal storm brings some widespread light snow to the far eastern reaches of the Finger Lakes.
The lake effect snow should remain parked over the northern and eastern Finger Lakes through Saturday night with occasional flurries and squalls elsewhere.
The highest snow totals will be along the shore of Lake Ontario, where over a foot could fall by Sunday morning.
Double-digit snow totals may extend south into Cayuga and Onondaga counties while a large swath of the northern Finger Lakes sees over 4 inches.
The lightest amounts will be across the Southern Tier, where only an inch or so is expected.
This snow will be very lightweight and will easily blow around in the strong winds. Significant drifting, poor visibilities, and the lack of effectiveness of rock salt at these cold temperatures will make travel difficult.
It is strongly advised that those with travel plans prepare for the snow and cold with an emergency kit that includes blankets and a charged cell phone. You do not want to become stranded unprepared in this cold.
Pattern Change in Sight
On Sunday, winds will turn to the south and clear the snow out of the area.
Temperatures will start very cold but will warm significantly during the day with highs pushing towards or above 20 degrees.
The temperature will continue to rise into Monday, with highs reaching the low 30s for most areas, along with some mixed precipitation.
Thankfully, there does not appear to be another shot of brutal cold lurking next week.
Temperatures should hover near normal around 30 degrees for much of next week and the week after.
Towards the end of the month, there continue to be indications of a warmer pattern with above normal temperatures persisting into February.
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