Arctic Front brings midday squalls, bitter cold

finger lakes weather forecast wednesday november 21 2018 thanksgiving travel forecast snow squall
A broken line of heavy snow bursts will move south through the Finger Lakes at APPROXIMATELY the times shown on the map. Some areas may see lighter snow than others.

Wednesday Travel Impacted by Squall

An arctic cold front will blast through the Finger Lakes today with a burst of intense snow and wind that will make travel dangerous for a brief period.

These types of events happen several times each year and are often stronger and better organized than today’s squall looks. However, since it is the day before Thanksgiving, road traffic will be much heavier than usual, resulting in an increased risk associated with this squall.

The squall should move from north-northwest to south-southeast during the middle of today. The timing shown on the map at the start of this blog is an approximation. The actual timing could vary as much as an hour or two, but this is the best guess this morning.

finger lakes weather what is a snow squall warning
The National Weather Service may need to issue its newest type of alert on Wednesday- a Snow Squall Warning. Should a warning be issued, avoid travel until the squall passes. Click the image to enlarge.

The squall may be broken with individual heavy cells between breaks of lighter or little snow. This is akin to a broken line of severe thunderstorms, where some areas see strong storms, but neighboring communities miss out.

For the areas that get the full brunt of the squall, conditions will rapidly deteriorate as the squall moves in. Visibility will become low and near white-out conditions may develop as the heavy snow combines with gusty winds.

The heavy snow will quickly accumulate on roadways. Plow crews will have only minutes to activate and being clearing snow. Roads will go from dry or wet to slippery within moments.

A flash of lightning or two is not out of the question.

The most intense part of the squall will only last 10-20 minutes. Lighter snow may persist for up to 45 minutes.

Travelers should be aware of this potential today and be ready for rapidly changing conditions. Use headlights and find a safe place to park while waiting for the squall to pass.

The main squall will be preceded by an area of lighter snow by about 2 hours. Behind the squall, several hours of mainly dry conditions are expected before lake effect develops this evening. Most of the Finger Lakes should see at least a little lake effect snow tonight and no one area should see very much.

Total snow accumulations today from the squall will be around an inch or less. Lake effect this evening could accumulate up to two inches in some areas, particularly between Rochester and Ithaca.

Some lake effect off Cayuga Lake will be possible early Thursday morning in and around Ithaca as well with a couple additional inches falling.

Bitter Cold Thanksgiving

Temperatures today will rise into the low 30s ahead of the squall but will drop back into the mid 20s this afternoon. With northwest winds gusting to 30 mph, wind chills this afternoon will drop into the teens.

By Thursday morning, temperatures near Lake Ontario and where the lake effect lingers through the center of the Finger Lakes will drop into the low teens. Across the Southern Tier and Central New York, single digits are more likely.

High temperatures on Thursday will be in the upper teens to near 20 degrees, making it one of the coldest Thanksgivings on record.

Morning lake effect should dissipate by the afternoon, leaving sunny skies across the Finger Lakes.

Mainly clear skies will continue through the overnight as high pressure builds in. This will lead to a frigid Black Friday morning with sub-zero temperatures widespread in areas away from the lakes and single digits near the lakes. Some valley locations in the Southern Tier could drop below -10 degrees.

Winds will turn to the south and increase on Friday. With more sunshine, these winds will help temperatures rise quickly. By the afternoon, many areas will be flirting with 30 degrees with mid and upper 20s in the Southern Tier.

Weekend Weather

Temperatures will continue to go up this weekend as a storm system approaches from the southwest.

Clouds will move in Friday night and will thicken early on Saturday. Temperatures will warm into the low and mid 40s by the afternoon.

Rain, not snow, will arrive during the afternoon and will continue into Saturday evening and overnight. By Sunday morning, the rain should mostly be over.

Rainfall amounts should be well under a half-inch.

The rest of Sunday will be cloudy with some occasional breaks of sunshine. High temperatures will reach the mid and upper 40s.

Another storm system will move through on Monday with rain ending as a touch of snow. Temperatures will return to the 30s with lake effect snow possible next week.

finger lakes interactive weather radar
Click the banner to go to the radar page!

Interactive Local Weather Radar

Stay ahead of today’s squall with the Finger Lakes Weather Interactive Radar!

Finger Lakes Weather’s radar not only shows the position of precipitation locally, but can also display warnings and advisories. Zoom into your neighborhood, or zoom out for a look around the region or nation.

Completely mobile friendly and compatible with any size device, so you can always view the radar as long as you have internet access.

Bookmark and stay ahead of the storms!

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.

3 Responses

  1. John Gregoire

    Drew, Is there a source of data on the amount of sunshine received this year? It seems to have been so ‘Ithacating” this year. We surely live where it’s gray! Happy Thanksgiving to your family from ours.

    OS -love these math capchas.

    • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil

      Happy Thanksgiving to you as well, John!

      For some very limited sunshine data, head to this link and look at the Monthly Weather Summary (CLM) and Seasonal Climate Report (CLS) data:

      • John Gregoire

        Thank you. Not exactly current are they. To wag it I’d say last year we had about equal amts of clear, PC, and C/