January 12-13 Finger Lakes Winter Storm: Maps, Information, and Updates

finger lakes weather forecast winter storm snow ice friday january 12 2018 saturday janaury 13 2018
All the information you need to know on the snow and ice in the Finger Lakes during the January 12-13, 2018 winter storm.

Everything You Need To Know

This post will continue to be updated with the latest information you need to know during the snow and ice storm in the Finger Lakes on January 12-13, 2018.

Live Storm Updates

Significant storm updates will be posted in this section through the afternoon and evening. A new blog post will be made Saturday morning.

10 Pm Friday (Final Update)-

Heavy sleet is turning to heavy snow across the Finger Lakes. This change over to snow is much faster, by 2 to 3 hours, than expected.

If this trend continues, snow amounts on the map I posted this morning should be in good shape or, in some cases, may even be a touch low.

The morning will tell the story with what happens! Stay safe and have a good night.

8 PM Friday-

Sleet and freezing rain continue to march east across the Finger Lakes with a wide swath of the region now seeing frozen precipitation.

The precipitation has expanded and become more widespread and heavier. This trend will continue through the night.

Snow is already taking over in western New York with a viewer from Penfield, near Rochester, also reporting snow. This changeover is ahead of schedule. This trend will need to be monitored this evening.

5:45 PM Friday-

Here is the recording from my hour-long live weather update Q&A show. As I mention in the show, the ice seems a little slower than the map that I posted below this morning. I would add about an hour or so onto the times shown on the map.

Please continue to send me your reports, especially as the mixed precipitation types move across the Finger Lakes.

finger lakes weather update cold front flash freeze timing
Cold air has begun entering the Finger Lakes with temperatures falling into the 30s in Rochester as of 2 PM. Sub-freezing temperatures will soon enter New York State before spreading east later this afternoon and evening. Click image to enlarge.

2:30 PM Friday-

Cold air has begun to work into the Finger Lakes region. Rochester from 59 degrees at noon to 42 degrees at 1 pm and is now heading into the 30s.

Subfreezing temperatures are lagging behind this rapid drop by a couple of hours, but will soon enter into New York State.

Once the temperature drops in a given location, expect the ice to begin 2 to 3 hours later as a rough estimate.

I will be doing one hour of live video this afternoon from 4:30 to 5:30 pm. I will be updating on the location of the ice and will be taking questions. The video will be embedded here and broadcast on Facebook.

12 PM (Noon) Friday-

Most counties in the Finger Lakes are under Flood Warnings at this point due to significant rises and ice jams on area streams.

Remember to never drive through floodwaters and always obey all road closures!

Steady, sometimes heavy rain had briefly let up but is settling back into the region. Runoff and snowmelt will continue to cause flooding issues into Saturday.

Temperatures across the Finger Lakes are in the upper 50s and low 60s, but the cold front is entering into western New York. Buffalo’s noontime temperature is down to 41 degrees, with sub-freezing temperatures across southern Ontario.

Looking at some of the latest data, the onset of the flash freeze may be up to an hour slower than what I have on the map below, but generally, the forecast looks to be in decent shape.

Storm Synopsis & Hazards Overview

A strong cold front will pass through the Finger Lakes Friday afternoon. Temperatures along the frontal passage will rapidly drop from the 50s into the 30s. Temperatures will drop below freezing within an hour or two of the frontal passage.

Rain will turn to freezing rain at that time, followed by a transition to sleet and eventually snow.

Very heavy precipitation is likely Friday night into Saturday morning as low pressure develops and lifts north along the front from the Mid-Atlantic into New England.

Significant amounts of snow and ice are likely in the Finger Lakes, causing nearly impossible travel conditions and sporadic power outages.

The storm will wind down during the midday and early afternoon hours on Saturday, but blowing snow and bitter cold temperatures in the teens will keep travel conditions poor into Saturday evening.

Furthermore, a continued threat for ice jam flooding will persist into Saturday, even as temperatures cool.

Friday Afternoon-


Rain will turn to freezing rain and sleet. Up to 1/10″ of ice accumulation.

Friday Night-


Sleet and ice will turn to heavy snow. Up to 1/10″ of ice accumulation and varying snow amounts up to 8 inches.

Saturday Morning-


Very heavy snowfall. Travel nearly impossible. Additional snow of 5-10 inches.

Saturday Afternoon-


Snow ends. Blowing snow. Poor travel conditions persist.

Forecast Maps & Explainations

Rain to Ice Transition

finger lakes weather forecast rain to ice transition time friday january 12 2018 flash freeze
The APPROXIMATE time at which temperatures will drop below freezing, leading to a period of freezing rain and then sleet. Click image to enlarge.

The timing of the transition from rain to ice is a very important one. Most areas will see this transition sometime during the mid to late afternoon hours.

This will have significant impacts on the evening commute.

As temperatures fall below freezing, a flash freeze may occur where water on the roads quickly freezes.

With additional freezing rain and sleet on top of the flash freeze, travel conditions will rapidly become very hazardous.

The times on this map are approximations and generalizations! The map is designed to give you a ballpark estimate of when conditions will deteriorate.

It is very important to monitor conditions and to plan ahead to avoid being caught in the flash freeze.

The Zip-Code Forecasts have been updated to match this map and should be consulted for specific information for your town.

Ice to Snow Transition

finger lakes weather forecast ice to snow transition time friday january 12 2018
The APPROXIMATE time at which icy precipitation will turn to heavy snow. Click image to enlarge.

Timing the change from ice to snow is less certain and more difficult than the rain to ice transition.

It is possible that the window for freezing rain will be brief before precipitation turns to sleet.

For a refresher, freezing rain falls as liquid then turns to ice once it reaches the surface. Sleet falls as pellets of ice.

Most areas will see a change over to snow sometime during the evening or early overnight hours.

How rapidly this change over occurs will impact snow and ice accumulations.

The times on this map are approximations and generalizations! The map is designed to give you a ballpark estimate of when conditions will deteriorate.

The Zip-Code Forecasts have been updated to match this map and should be consulted for specific information for your town.

Storm Total Snow Accumulations

finger lakes weather forecast storm total snow accumulation map firday january 12 2018 saturday janaury 13 2018
Approximate storm total snow and sleet accumulations between Friday, January 12, 2018, and Saturday, January 13, 2018. Click image to enlarge.

The core of the heaviest precipitation is expected right over the Finger Lakes.

Snow amounts will vary across the region based on how quickly the ice turns to snow.

A large area will likely see a foot or more, with localized amounts over 18″ near the shore of Lake Ontario and into the north-central Finger Lakes. This includes Wayne, Ontario, northern Seneca, and northern Cayuga counties.

A sharp gradient in snow totals is expected over the eastern Finger Lakes where the transition from ice to snow will take longer.

The evolution of this gradient is uncertain and even a very slight difference in storm track or speed could have significant impacts on the snow amounts for places like Ithaca, Cortland, and Syracuse.

East of the Finger Lakes, very little snow accumulation is expected with most of the precipitation falling as sleet before dry air works into those areas Saturday morning.

Snow across the Finger Lakes, however, should linger through the morning and into the midday and early afternoon hours.

In addition to the snow, gusty winds will cause significant drifting and poor visibility. Temperatures will also fall through the teens, making it very difficult for road crews to clean up.

Travel is highly discouraged and may be impossible in many areas Saturday morning.

Important Links

FLX Weather Radar

Interactive, mobile friendly, and color-coded for precipitation type.

Zip-Code Forecasts

Specific forecast details for all zip-codes in the Finger Lakes.

Message Drew

Send meteorologist Drew Montreuil a question through the Messanger App and get a quick, personal response.

Weather Alerts

See what alerts are in place for your county, including any flood advisories and warnings.

Social Media

Connect with FLX Weather on Facebook and Twitter. Your live weather reports and updates will be vital, especially Friday afternoon and evening! Please let me know what you are seeing!

Final Notes

The combination of ice and snow make this a particularly tricky storm to forecast. The stakes are high with significant accumulations possible, impacting travel during the Friday evening commute and throughout Saturday.

Please avoid travel if possible during this winter storm. Continue to monitor the latest updates and please let me know what you see throughout this storm.

Finger Lakes Weather has three core values: Honesty, Accessibility, and Accuracy. This is, as always, a no-hype forecast you can rely on. I have spent hours on this post alone in an attempt to nail down as many specifics as possible to keep you informed and will continue to update as often as possible.

Please plan to tune in for live video updates Friday afternoon between 4-6 pm. This is subject to change, but I will do all I can to provide up to the second information as rain turns to ice across the region.

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Follow Meteorologist Drew Montreuil:
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.). Drew and his wife have four young boys. When not working or playing with the boys, he is probably out for a run through the countryside.

17 Responses

  1. Liz

    8pm – rain now turning to ice to Romulus

    • Liz

      and by 10pm it is now snowing in Romulus

      • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil

        Thanks! That change over to snow is way ahead of schedule.

  2. Melissa

    I’m in Ithaca up on south hill, and am supposed to get off work around 11:30 pm. Will I be able to make it down the hill and over to the West side? What do you think?

    • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil

      Hi Melissa. I think by 11:30 travel is going to be very, very difficult. I am sorry you have to work so late. Navigating that hill is going to be treacherous.

  3. Sandy

    Drew, what is the likelihood of a greater amount of snow south of the lakes, due to orographic lift and/or elevation? For example in the hills south of Cayuga or Seneca. And, will the elevation affect the transition from rain to ice to snow? Thanks.

    • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil

      I think the natural variation in snow amounts common in large storms will be a larger factor than elevation this time. The cold air at the surface will be a very thick, substantial layer with the warm air well aloft in the atmosphere. There may be some slight differences in timing, but generally, there should not be too many or very large differences.

  4. […] – Read Montreuil’s full morning update at FLXWeather.com […]

  5. Nancy

    Yesterday’s map said low confidence. What is your confidence in this snow map? Thank you for your great work!

    • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil

      I am least confident where the gradient is tight over the eastern Finger Lakes. I am quite confident further west with the high snow amounts. I am not expecting to make any additional changes to this forecast.

  6. Sharon Warren

    Thank you, Drew! Been waiting to see what you said about this storm, since you’re usually more accurate than others. Just sent a donation! Thanks for all you do!

    • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil

      Thank you so much for your donation!

  7. David Poles

    This site is indispensable

    • David Poles

      PS I sent Drew a few dollars, need to do so again
      All the users should consider a donation

      • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil

        Thank you so much, David!

  8. John Gregoire

    Drew our rain as of 0700 was 1.11. Snow gone. Shame all that ran off the frozen ground. You are in opposition to NWS estimates and frankly I hope you are the correct forecast!

    • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil

      I haven’t seen their updates this morning. I will have to go see what they think!