Spring arrives amid late week snow hype

finger lakes weather forecast wednesday march 20 2019 first day of spring weather hype noreaster friday snow
Wednesday will be a great start to Spring with plenty of sun and highs in the 50s. [Photo by Meteorologist Drew Montreuil]

Nice start to Spring

Spring has officially arrived, and, for a day, it will feel like it with a very nice day ahead.

Skies are mostly clear across the Finger Lakes this morning and much of the day will be sun-filled.

South winds will blow today between high pressure located off the coast of New England and an incoming system that will drop southeast across the Great Lakes. Top gusts should be under 25 mph.

A few thin clouds from that system will work in during the afternoon, but no precipitation is expected.

Temperatures will be above normal today with mid 50s possible along and north of I-90 with low 50s to the south. Some higher elevations across the Southern Tier and Central New York may fall just short of 50 degrees.

A few light rain showers will work in overnight with temperatures holding in the mid and upper 30s.

Forecast Gets Messy

Beyond Thursday morning, the forecast gets extremely convoluted and complicated. The hype regarding snow is cranking up. There are many pieces in motion that make this an especially difficult forecast with very low certainty.

The system dropping southeast through the Great Lakes will merge with a second system moving through the Ohio Valley. These will then spawn/merge with a third low that will develop along the Mid-Atlantic Coast and move north into New England.

This low will be compact but will have a narrow area of heavy precipitation. This band of heavier precipitation has been creeping west on the models and may clip the eastern portions of the region Thursday afternoon and Thursday night.

Temperatures Thursday will peak in the low 40s across the Southern Tier and Central New York with mid and upper 40s further north. Therefore, any heavier precipitation that works in should fall as rain through the afternoon and first part of Thursday night. Outside of the band of heavier rain, scattered showers will be likely.

Things get even more complex as one or two more small disturbances move towards New England and possibly merge with the primary coastal low on Friday.

The degree to which this happens will influence the strength of the coastal low and its ability to pull cold air into the region.

Light rain and snow showers will be likely on Friday with highs in the upper 30s. Strengthening northwest winds Friday evening and Friday night will drop temperatures and precipitation will turn to snow enhanced by Lake Ontario.

A wide range of snow amounts remain possible with the highest accumulations likely just south of Lake Ontario and into the higher elevations south of Syracuse. As is typical with lake effect, the Southern Tier should see minor, if any snow accumulations.

The European model is aggressive with the snow amounts, but its ensembles are very mixed. For review, the ensembles are a set of 51 different versions of the same model, each with slightly different parameters. This gives a sampling of different scenarios. When the ensembles have a wide spread like they do now, forecast confidence is low.

The other major weather models show a weaker low, resulting in less cold air and snow amounts of just a few inches at most. The European too was recently showing this solution and has only started to be aggressive during its last couple runs.

The final complication is the lateness of the season. Computer models struggle with very early or very late snowfalls. As we have seen in recent days, it can snow heavily in late March but with little accumulation to show for it.

Much of this snow would be at night, however, which favors more accumulation. Steady, heavy snow should pull out of the region Saturday morning, though scattered flurries would probably linger into the afternoon with highs only in the 30s.

Where We Go From Here

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Be very wary of hyped up reports calling for a major snow event. While it remains a possibility for some localized areas of the Finger Lakes, there is still a huge amount of uncertainty. This uncertainty will probably remain high and this may be one of those events where we will not have a good idea what will happen until it does.

My plan is to continue to approach this with caution while watching trends in the models through Thursday. By Thursday night or Friday morning, I will publish a snow map, if necessary. I feel anything sooner would be premature and likely need significant adjustments as time goes on.

In the meantime, Finger Lakes Weather seriously needs additional monthly financial support. Recent changes in the funding structure of this service that are beyond my control have placed the future of this type of no-hype reporting in jeopardy.

Please help support reasonable and scientific weather reporting, as well as the personalized, on-demand nature of my services. There truly is nothing else like Finger Lakes Weather in our region and it would be heartbreaking for many, myself included, that have that be lost.

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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.

4 Responses

  1. Pam Van Gelder

    Hi Drew,
    I made a donation but while I received an email confirmation, your donation confirmation page is still “thinking”. Thanks for all you do for us! You rock!

    • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil

      Thank you so much, Pam! I can confirm that the donation was successful. I appreciate your support!

  2. Susan F. DeMasi

    I would prefer to make a one-time donation rather than monthly. How do I do that? I enjoy and trust your forecasting-it seems more accurate for my particular area.

    • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil

      Thank you so much, Susan! Head over to flxweather.com/donate to make a one-time donation.