Cold front brings snow, freeze to Finger Lakes

finger lakes weather forecast wednesday october 17 2018 first snow freeze warning cold front
A coating of snow over higher elevations will be possible this evening with widespread freeze conditions overnight. [Photo by Nanci McCraine]

Strong Cold Front Arrives

A strong, yet moisture starved cold front will press through the Finger Lakes today. Strong winds behind the front will deliver the coldest air of the season.

As of 7:30 this morning, the front was crossing Lake Ontario and just entering western New York. A couple of scattered showers exist along the front, but more impressive bands of lake effect precipitation are already developing.

finger lakes weather forecast cold front surface map 850mb temperatures
This map shows the cold front poised to strike the Finger Lakes this morning. Shaded coloring indicates cold temperatures about 1 mile above the surface.

As winds behind the front shift from south to west, the lake effect will enhance some of the precipitation along the front. Scattered showers will therefore be possible in the Finger Lakes especially during the afternoon hours.

Those winds will gust over 40 mph at times throughout the day today.

Temperatures will climb into the upper 40s before the front arrives, but will quickly drop through the 30s this evening. New lake effect will develop on northwest winds as this happens, with a double connection of moisture off of both Lake Huron and Lake Ontario feeding precipitation over the Finger Lakes.

Rain will start to turn to snow first over the higher elevations of the eastern Finger Lakes, where up to a slushy inch could fall. A coating will then be possible across portions of the southern, then western Finger Lakes as the band of lake effect swings west then dissipates around midnight. Even lower elevations will see some flakes fly.

Dry air will move in and skies may mostly clear before dawn. This will allow temperatures to fall into the upper 20s and low 30s. All of the region will see a freeze tonight except right along lake shores. Frost is unlikely due to the dry air.

Freeze warnings have been issued for several counties in the Finger Lakes. Areas near Lake Ontario do not have freeze warnings with temperatures expected to stay just above freezing in those areas. Still, localized pockets of sub-freezing temperatures are possible, especially well inland from Lake Ontario.

Across the Southern Tier, no freeze warnings have been issued as the growing season is considered over in these areas. Many still have viable plant growth though, so take significant measures to save plant life if that is the case.

finger lakes weather freeze warning map wednesday october 17 2018
Freeze warnings are in effect across the heart of the Finger Lakes, but sub-freezing temperatures are likely even outside of those areas. Click to enlarge map.

Sunshine, Then Warmer

Thursday will be a raw, cold day, but there should at least be a fair amount of sunshine.

A few clouds will still be possible from time to time, but precipitation is not expected.

Wind gusts will be between 25-35 mph, with the strongest gusts over the far eastern Finger Lakes. The wind will be from the northwest most of the day, but will end by turning to the west-southwest.

After the cold start to the day, temperatures will only warm into the low 40s for afternoon highs. A few of the higher elevations in the Southern Tier and Central New York could struggle to reach 40 degrees.

A steady southwest wind will keep temperatures from plummeting Thursday night. Overnight lows will mostly be in the low and mid 30s despite clear skies. Dewpoints will be higher, so some patchy frost will be possible.

Friday will remain sunny with just a few clouds. The wind will continue to bring warmer air in, and temperatures will push towards 60 degrees during the afternoon.

Weekend Weather

Unfortunately, the warm up will be very brief. A new weather system will swing in on Saturday with widespread scattered showers.

Winds will turn to the west and northwest and become gusty once more. Top gusts Saturday will be around 30 mph.

Morning temperatures Saturday will be in the upper 40s with highs reaching the low 50s ahead of the cold front. A quick drop back through the 40s will occur late in the afternoon and into the evening.

Scattered rain showers will develop south of Lake Ontario Saturday night. By Sunday morning, some of these will have turned to snow, mostly over higher elevations. Snow and rain showers will continue throughout Sunday and into Sunday night.

Temperatures Sunday will start in the mid 30s and will rise only into the upper 30s.

Cold, unsettled weather will continue into next week. More chances for rain and snow will be likely.

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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.). Drew and his wife have three young boys and also run a goat milk soap business, Ye Olde Goat Cart. When not working or playing with the boys, he is probably out for a run through the countryside.