Friday March 2 Winter Storm: Forecast Details & Snow Map

finger lakes weather forecast friday march 2 2018 snow storm snow map accumulation storm information
A significant winter storm with heavy snow and strong winds will blast the Finger Lakes region on Friday with a wide variety of impacts.

Storm Overview

A significant winter storm will make for dangerous travel conditions around the Finger Lakes on Friday. This is a complex system and it is very important to read the forecast and understand its intricacies — simply looking at a snow map will not adequately prepare you for this system.

Precipitation will move into the Finger Lakes Thursday afternoon as a few rain showers which will transition to a steady rain Thursday evening as low pressure tracks into northwestern Pennsylvania.

finger lakes weather forecast snow map friday march 2 2018 winter storm
Snow totals are very uncertain across the Finger Lakes, but it seems most likely that the highest amounts will be over the western Southern Tier and Central New York. Click the map to enlarge.

Cold air will work in tonight as the low tracks across Pennsylvania. Rain will change to snow first over the higher elevations of the Southern Tier, then over the northern Finger Lakes towards midnight, over the eastern Finger Lakes after midnight, and lastly across the valleys of the central and eastern Southern Tier a bit before dawn on Friday.

A second low pressure will then develop off the coast of New Jersey, becoming the dominant system. Snow may come to an end for western areas of the Finger Lakes by noon Friday, but heavy snow will continue over the eastern Finger Lakes and Central New York.

The complexities of this system are immense, from timing the change over from rain to snow to determining where the heavy snow band will set up after noon on Friday. The result will be highly variable snow amounts throughout the region.

Additionally, winds will be strong from the northwest on Friday. Blowing and drifting snow will become problematic with near blizzard conditions possible at times. Poor travel conditions are likely even after the snow tapers off.

Phase 1- Thursday Evening & Friday Morning

The first part of this storm will begin Thursday evening and continue into Friday morning as the first low tracks across Pennsylvania.

Rain will move into the region from southwest to northeast, starting as some scattered showers and transitioning to a steadier rain.

Snow will begin to take over as the main precipitation type first over higher elevations in the western Southern Tier as early as 8 or 9 pm. Snow will gradually spread north towards Rochester, then east along I-90 around midnight.

After midnight, the change over to snow should begin across the central and eastern Finger Lakes. The last areas to turn over will be the valleys of the Southern Tier a couple hours before sunrise.

By dawn Friday morning, significant snow accumulations over the western Finger Lakes will have taken place. Several inches will have fallen further east, but with more to come.

The snow should taper off over the western Finger Lakes during the morning, possibly even coming to an end for some areas. Further east, heavy snow will persist throughout the morning.

During this phase, winds will also become strong, with gusts over 40 mph possible. This will create significant blowing and drifting, resulting in near blizzard conditions at times.

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Phase 2- Friday Afternoon & Evening

As the second low takes over, a frontal-type boundary will extend northwest of the low somewhere into Central New York. Moderate to heavy snow will continue through the afternoon near this boundary.

This boundary will likely drift westward through the afternoon as it weakens, spreading light snow showers back into the central and western Finger Lakes, including for some areas that had seen the snow stop.

Additional significant accumulations are expected over the eastern Finger Lakes and especially Central New York during this time period while areas further west only see an additional inch or so.

The exact location of this boundary is uncertain and could have major impacts on the accuracy of the snow accumulation forecast over the eastern Finger Lakes and Central New York.

Strong winds will begin to focus over the eastern areas while tapering off some further west. Still, significant travel hazards will exist with blowing and drifting snow.

By Friday evening, the entire region should taper to lighter snow showers with little to no additional accumulation.

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Final Notes

Despite its uncertainties, this storm is very likely to be a high-impact event. There is some bust potential, where temperatures remain just warm enough for mostly rain and only minor snow accumulations. There is also potential for the storm to overperform with widespread amounts over a foot.

The above forecast is not based on any single computer model, but a blend of data with a heavy dose of personal forecasting experience and represents my best shot at what will happen.

The geographic labels I use, such as “western Finger Lakes” are vague and intentional. They are meant to give a general sense of the overall storm patterns, not to nail down specifics on a town-by-town basis. For that, please check your zip-code forecast or ask me for clarification.

I plan to have a live video update and question-and-answer session Thursday evening at 8:15 PM-9:15 PM. Please feel free to message me or comment with your questions before then as well though.

I will also have a blog post update Friday morning.

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Meteorologist Drew Montreuil
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.). When not forecasting, he can be found working at the local library, making goat milk soap, running until his legs burn, or playing with his three young boys.

31 Responses

  1. Patti
    |

    FYI Cornell University will close on Friday March 2 as of 5am. All non-essential staff are excused from work and there will be no classes or events through the evening. https://emergency.cornell.edu/

  2. Dee
    |

    I travel from Naples to Cdga via rt 21, I have numerous hills to drive up, I also drive through South Bristol. So I take it it could be a foot or more?

    • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil
      Meteorologist Drew Montreuil
      |

      Yes I am expecting a foot or more for those areas now.

  3. Marck
    |

    Hi Drew, What do you think the commute around Interlaken/Ovid, New York will look like? I know you don’t really cover these areas but I thought you might at least know the conditions in the morning.

    • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil
      Meteorologist Drew Montreuil
      |

      Oh, I do absolutely cover that area, Marck 🙂 It is going to be a very difficult, maybe even impossible commute during the morning.

      • Marck
        |

        Ok Thanks for the heads up. Also, Apologies for the mistake in words. I just recently started following you and didn’t really see much of these areas.

  4. Dee
    |

    Started to snow in Napkes

  5. Rebecca elliott
    |

    I’ll be coming from Trumansburg to Cornell tomorrow and back during normal business hours. Will it be safe? What do you expect the commute to be like? Thanks as always!

    • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil
      Meteorologist Drew Montreuil
      |

      Morning commute is going to be very very difficult. The evening won’t be quite so bad but still not great.

    • Rebecca Lesses
      |

      Cornell is closed starting 5 am Friday morning.

  6. Dick Feldman
    |

    I’m running a conference with about 30 out-of-town people coming in. The conference starts tomorrow, Friday, evening and goes all day Saturday. The attendees come from central New York and eastern PA mostly. I’m trying to figure out what to tell them. They would almost all be driving, though a few from farther away think they’re going to fly in. Any comments or suggestions?

    • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil
      Meteorologist Drew Montreuil
      |

      Hi Dick. Getting into Ithaca is going to be very tricky throughout Friday. By the afternoon, so to the west of Ithaca should taper off, but near Ithaca and points east will still likely be in the thick of things. Everyone should taper off by the evening hours.

  7. Steve
    |

    What will the morning and afternoon commutes, Canandaigua to Geneseo and back, look like?

    Thanks for all you do for our region.

    • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil
      Meteorologist Drew Montreuil
      |

      Hi Steve. The morning commute will be vert very difficult if not nearly impossible. The afternoon should be better though with only scattered snow showers by then.

  8. Mary
    |

    I am traveling from Ithaca to Vestal at 1:00pm and Vestal to Ithaca at 8:30pm to meet with clients who have 10 minute to 45 minute commutes. Should I reschedule now or wait till after your next forecast today to decide?

    • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil
      Meteorologist Drew Montreuil
      |

      I would reschedule now. The trip in the evening may not be too horrid, but the afternoon leg could be very, very difficult.

  9. Andrea
    |

    I am flying out of Elmira Friday evening, do you think the majority of the snowfall there will have already happened by 6pm? Trying to plan in case of a delay! Thank you!

    • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil
      Meteorologist Drew Montreuil
      |

      Most should be done by then, yes, but it will still be windy so there may still be some lingering problems.

  10. Darlene Gentils
    |

    “Thank You For All You Do”…I Work Nights In Health Care in P.Y. …..Your Forcasts Helps Me Plan For Safer Travels…

  11. Pat
    |

    Hi Drew, we have an appointment in Rochester at 11 (traveling from Syracuse). I assume I should reschedule that!
    Keep up the great work.

    • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil
      Meteorologist Drew Montreuil
      |

      Yes you will want to reschedule that.

  12. John Gregoire
    |

    Thanks Drew. When following the clicks to local and localweather radar, my security program red lights saying there are several viruses associated with that radar link and very strongly recommends not continuing. Thanks for the good forecast.

    • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil
      Meteorologist Drew Montreuil
      |

      Thanks for letting me know that. Try typing in FLXweather.com/radar directly.

  13. […] – Read Montreuil’s complete forecast by clicking here. […]

  14. David Poles
    |

    Thanks Drew, I always wait for you to weigh in. Awesome detailed explanation as always

  15. Janet Newman
    |

    Thank you Drew,
    I live in Auburn, but my Dad in declining health is in Ithaca. Normally, I go back and forth, but because of weather forecasters like you, I am planning on staying in Ithaca overnight tonight and tomorrow, so I can be closer to him and assured of being able to get to him if needed. I hope to be able to drive back home sometime Saturday.

    • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil
      Meteorologist Drew Montreuil
      |

      That sounds like a great plan, Janet. I am glad I could help!

  16. Shane
    |

    What do you expect the morning commute to look like in Ithaca on Friday?

    • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil
      Meteorologist Drew Montreuil
      |

      Very messy with heavy snow falling, strong winds blowing the snow, and several inches of accumulation already piling up.

    • Liz Ryan
      |

      And I’m heading from Ithaca down to Binghamton around 6am Friday. When do you think we can guess well whether the temp will be high enough to be a “bust” or to call off the commute? Thanks! This is super helpful.

      • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil
        Meteorologist Drew Montreuil
        |

        At this point I think the bust potential, while still existing, is fairly low. I would plan for a very difficult commute.