What the Finger Lakes needs to know about the Halloween Storm

finger lakes weather forecast thursday october 31 2019 halloween storm wind rain severe thudnerstorms
A strong storm system will blast into the Finger Lakes with heavy rain, severe thunderstorms, and strong winds. [Photo by Meteorologist Drew Montreuil]

Plenty of Weather Tricks

Mother Nature is pulling out her full bag of tricks with a major storm system that will be the most impactful weather event of the fall so far in the Finger Lakes.

The range of weather conditions over the next 36-48 hours spans the full spectrum, from high winds to severe thunderstorms to snow.

Low pressure is over the Ohio Valley this morning and will strengthen through the day as it moves northeast. Tonight, the low will pass directly through the Finger Lakes, but the significant impacts will continue into Friday.

Storm Impacts & Timeline

The weather Thursday morning will be quiet and mild in the Finger Lakes. A stray shower may be possible and winds will be a bit gusty, but not yet overly strong.

An initial batch of rain will move through during the early and mid afternoon hours. This rain will have embedded downpours that could cause minor flooding concerns due to leaf clogged drains.

South winds will increase with gusts of 40-50 mph. The highest gusts will be over higher elevations.

Models continue to support the idea of a lull in the precipitation during the late afternoon and early evening. There will still be showers and downpours scattered about, but the widespread precipitation may end for a time.

Obviously, this would be great for trick-or-treating. Keep your fingers crossed, eyes on the radar, and check back this afternoon for updates.

The storm system will really start to unleash its power this evening, starting with the potential for a squall line of severe thunderstorms.

This idea has been gaining support on the models over the last 24 hours and should now be a serious consideration in the evolution of this system.

A line of heavy rain, strong winds, and some lightning will start to develop around 7 or 8 pm somewhere over the Finger Lakes. Areas near and east of Seneca Lake have the best chance at seeing severe thunderstorms from this line. Any thunderstorms will be able to enhance the wind with damaging gusts over 60 mph.

Believe it or not, there is even a minimal tornado risk with this set up. The risk will be greater to the south over Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic, but I can think of at least one other late season squall line in our area that did produce tornadoes in northeastern Pennsylvania in early December 2006. Will a tornado touch down? The chances are very low, but are not zero.

Areas of heavy rain will continue through the evening, even behind the squall line. Again, some areas of flooding could be possible, but any flooding should stay relatively minor. Nonetheless, flood watches are in effect for portions of Central New York.

The wind will briefly die down behind the line but will whip back up again overnight.

Up to this point, temperatures will be in the 60s through the afternoon and evening. Once the cold front plows through, temperatures will rapidly drop. By dawn Friday, most of the area will be well into the 30s.

The strongest winds of the storm will kick in overnight, coming from the southwest and continuing for much of Friday. High Wind Warnings are in effect for most of the Finger Lakes and all Western New York. Top gusts could exceed 60 mph in the warning areas, resulting in downed trees and power outages. Halloween decorations will be especially prone to wind damage.

finger lakes weather high wind warning thursday october 31 2019 friday november 1 2019
Damaging wind gusts over 60 mph are possible in the areas under a High Wind Warning. The strongest winds will develop overnight and continue through Friday.

Precipitation will be limited on Friday, but a few streamers of lake effect will be possible off Lake Erie. Early in the morning Friday, some of this may fall as snow over the western Southern Tier and higher elevations. Little to no accumulation is expected, though. Outside of the lake effect, some sun will poke through the clouds.

The weather will finally calm down Friday evening as winds drop and skies clear. This will lead to temperatures in the 20s and 30s Saturday morning. Saturday will be sunny and dry, but Sunday morning may have a few more lake effect showers and flurries.

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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. langburn

    Hi, Drew. The NWS high wind warning for Southern Cayuga seems to start at 4AM… Friday morning? Do you see it coming in earlier than that, like before midnight Thursday? Thanks!

    • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil

      Hi Langburn. The peak of the winds will be in the hours before and after dawn Friday…that is when the warning criteria 60+ mph gusts should be expected. I do expect 40-55 mph gusts later this afternoon and evening before the squall line before a lull until things ramp up further. And, of course, the squall line itself could have 60+ mph thunderstorm gusts.