Winter Storm Watches posted for northeastern Finger Lakes

finger lakes weather winter storm watches march 20 2019
Winter Storm Watches are in effect for the counties in blue, which include Cortland, Onondaga, and southern Cayuga counties in the FLX Weather forecast area.

What is a Winter Storm Watch

The potential for snow in the Finger Lakes late Friday has prompted the National Weather Service (NWS) to issue a few Winter Storm Watches.

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Original Post:

The NWS issues a Winter Storm Watch to identify areas where heavy winter weather is possible, but not yet certain due to uncertainties in the forecast or the event being too far in the future.

These are both the case with the Winter Storm Watches issued this afternoon for Cayuga (southern), Cortland, and Onondaga counties in the Finger Lakes Weather forecast area. Additional counties in Central New York and to the east of Lake Ontario are also included in the watch. Additional counties could be added to the watch at a later time.

As the NWS astutely points out in their regular forecast discussion, temperatures a couple degrees warmer or colder will significantly alter the outcome of this event.

More time is certainly needed before issuing snow maps for this event. In addition to premature snow maps, be very wary of terms like ‘bomb cyclone’ and ‘noreaster’ which loosely get thrown around in the media to scare and thus attract attention.

The local areas most prone to a significant snow event in this scenario appear to be in the hills south of Syracuse. With borderline temperatures, elevation will likely have a significant role. Areas further west are also less likely to see the heavy snow, which will be enhanced by northwest winds over Lake Ontario.

Travel Concerns

I’ve already begun fielding several questions regarding travel late in the week and the weekend.

The time of most concern for traveling will be Friday afternoon through the overnight Friday night. The potential for snow will still need to be watched overnight Thursday night as well.

Travel conditions should improve over the course of Saturday morning as the snow tapers off to flurries and temperatures push towards the mid 30s.

Otherwise, there will be periods of rain throughout Thursday and early Friday. Travel conditions Sunday look great with sunshine and highs in the upper half of the 40s.

Please, continue to send me emails and messages if you are worried about your travel plans. I can help with your specific needs and concerns. This is a tremendous service I am pleased to offer that you will not find anywhere else.

Be sure to sign up for my email list to get notified of the latest blog posts at The next update will be published Thursday morning with more details on the rain, when it may turn to snow, and the latest on the snow. I do not anticipate producing a snow map until Thursday evening or Friday morning.

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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.

2 Responses

  1. Carol Chaplin

    I was planning to drive from Ithaca to Long Island on Friday. I am wondering if that will pose any driving hazards? Thank you in advance.

    • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil

      If you travel Friday morning, the biggest concern will be the Catskills/Poconos depending on your route. If you travel in the afternoon, road conditions will still probably be in generally good shape. Friday night, the snow will mostly be from Ithaca northward, so going towards Long Island will take you out of the worst areas.