Ice Storm Threatens
A perfect set up for freezing rain will develop over the Finger Lakes as heavy precipitation moves into portions of the region Saturday evening into early Sunday.
A strong frontal boundary will continue to drift southward as cold air moves into the region at the surface.
Temperatures today will retreat through the 30s and will start to fall below the freezing point from northwest to southeast during the afternoon and evening hours.
Meanwhile, warmer air will move in from the south above the surface. By this evening, temperatures a mile or so above the surface will be 5 to 10 degrees warmer than at the surface.
A wave of precipitation will move along the front and into the region tonight, preceded by scattered showers throughout the afternoon.
Since there will be precipitation in the area well before the steadier rain, it is hard to pinpoint a start time, but conditions should begin to deteriorate between roughly 4-10 pm from northwest to southeast.
The heaviest and steadiest precipitation will likely set up along and north of a Buffalo-Rochester-Oswego line with a sharp cut off in precipitation amounts to the south and east.
With the coldest air coinciding with the heaviest precipitation, significant ice accumulations are likely near Lake Ontario and across the northwestern Finger Lakes.
Winter Weather Advisories have been upgraded to Ice Storm Warnings for the areas between Rochester and Buffalo.
Meanwhile, temperatures across the eastern Southern Tier may remain just above freezing with only some spotty showers, resulting in little to no ice in those areas.
Impacts and Uncertainties
While the general pattern of this system has high confidence, the details are sketchy and complicated.
Firstly, any time there is a sharp gradient in the weather between high amounts and low amounts, the confidence decreases quickly. The slightest wobble can have significant impacts on the forecast.
Do not focus too much on the exact amounts listed for the cities on the map above, but instead be aware of the overall pattern, with higher amounts of ice further north and west.
The impacts of this ice storm will mostly be on vegetation and wires. Travel conditions will be slick at times, but the ice will not accumulate nearly as well on the roadways. Still, if you can avoid travel from this evening through the overnight, do so.
Also coinciding with the highest ice amounts will be the gustiest winds. The same areas that may see a half-inch of ice will also be the most likely to see 30 mph wind gusts.
This will result in tree damage and power outages. Most of the rest of the Finger Lakes will most likely only see some sporadic power outages.
Temperatures should warm above freezing fairly quickly Sunday morning, especially south of I-90. Many areas should make it into the 40s on Sunday with some 50s also showing up.
Heavy Rain, Strong Winds Sunday Night
Ice is not the only threat we will face this weekend. A strong cold front will push through the region Sunday night and early Monday.
A period of heavy rain and strong winds, possibly accompanied by some thunder, will move through with the front.
Between Sunday evening and Monday evening, many areas will see an inch to an inch and a half of rainfall.
This could prompt some localized flooding concerns. Flood watches have been issued so far for the western Finger Lakes.
Winds will gust over 40 mph with a few 50 mph gusts possible as well. The winds will be strongest between midnight and noon on Monday.
Rain will turn to snow later Monday with a coating to an inch or two possible, especially over higher elevations.
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