Snowy Tuesday, Squally Wednesday

finger lakes weather foreacast tuesday december 17 2019 snow amounts
Winter Weather Advisories continue for most of the Finger Lakes as snow falls steadily throughout the day, causing tricky travel conditions. [Photo by Gwen Moshier]

Tuesday’s Widespread Snow

Snow is falling across the Finger Lakes this morning and will continue to do so throughout the day.

This snow is being triggered by low pressure that is moving into the Mid-Atlantic region this morning. The low will track northeast toward Long Island today.

Much of the snow across the region this morning is light to moderate, but there are a few more intense bands, especially over the eastern Southern Tier. Additional heavier bands will be possible throughout the day.

A few small breaks in the snow will also be possible, but by and large it should be a steady snow for most of the day.

12:30 PM Update

The back edge of this system has not held together well. It will snow lightly on and off through the afternoon, but conditions from here on out should be better than expected. Accumulations will likely end up a touch lower than expected as a result.

finger lakes weather snow map tuesday december 17 2019
Widespread snow will fall throughout Tuesday with the highest amounts over the southeastern Finger Lakes where locally over 6 inches may fall. Click to enlarge.

There is no change to my thinking for accumulations. Most of the region should fall in the 3-6 inch range, with some higher amounts possible across the southeastern Finger Lakes.

Roads will continue to be sloppy to snow covered depending on treatment plans put in place by the road crews. Give yourself extra time and be cautious when traveling.

Temperatures will not move much today, remaining in the upper 20s to near 30 degrees. Winds will be light as they swing around from the east this morning to the northwest tonight.

Wednesday’s Squalls

The steady snow will taper off late this afternoon and early this evening. A few scattered snow showers will drift through overnight with little to no additional accumulation.

Winds will turn to the southwest overnight, keeping temperatures generally in the 20s. A cold front will move through during the morning hours, with winds turning to the west and increasing.

Once the front moves through, the rest of the day will be characterized by on and off bursts of snow. These squalls will track from northwest to southeast. While any individual squall should not last more than 20-40 minutes, during that time, the weather will become hazardous.

Very heavy snow rates, large snowflakes, and wind gusts of 30-40 mph will create near white-out conditions. Roads will quickly turn slick as snow accumulates in a matter of minutes. Travel during squalls will be difficult and reduced speeds and headlights will be necessary.

finger lakes weather what is a snow squall warning
Snow Squall Warnings are a new alert that have been issued for the last couple of winters. They identify areas of dangerous travel conditions due to intense snow squalls with near-zero visibility and rapidly changing road conditions.

Snow Squall Warnings may be issued by the National Weather Service to alert for particularly intense squalls.

Between the squalls, some sunshine will be possible. Blowing snow is likely even when it is not actively snowing.

Snow accumulations on Wednesday will only be a couple inches at most, but it will be the intensity of the squalls that is noteworthy.

Temperatures Wednesday will drop through the 20s and into the teens by late in the afternoon. Many areas will drop into the single digits overnight.

The on and off squalls should end as the sun sets, but a band of lake effect snow may still create tricky travel as it sags south across the region during the evening. The band will weaken and dissipate as it moves south, but a spray of lighter lake effect snow will develop behind it. An additional couple inches may fall over Wayne, Cayuga, and Onondaga county as a result.

Quieter Weather Settles In

Lake effect snow showers are likely to continue on Thursday. The best chances for snow will be over the northeastern Finger Lakes (Auburn, Syracuse) and in the western Finger Lakes, where some snow from Lake Erie will be present.

Accumulations on Thursday should be limited to a fluffy inch or two in the more persistent snow bands.

Outside of the lake effect, some sunshine may be possible.

Thursday will be cold with highs ranging through the teens. The coldest temperatures will be over Central New York, where even getting to 15 degrees will be a challenge. Wind chills will be even colder with gusts throughout the day between 15-25 mph.

High pressure will build in Thursday night, ending the lake effect snow. Skies should at least partially clear.

With the clear skies, a fresh snow cover, and light winds, temperatures will drop into the single digits once again. Some places may even slip below zero. If clouds linger south of Lake Ontario, those areas may stay in the teens.

Friday will be quite sunny, but still on the cold side with highs around 20 degrees. After another cold morning Saturday, temperatures will start to rebound with afternoon highs approaching 30 degrees.

Saturday, too, should be more sunny than not with high pressure remaining in the area.

Sunshine and dry weather continues for Sunday, but with the high now to the east, winds will swing around to the south. Temperatures should reach at least 40 degrees during the afternoon. Monday, too, will be quiet and mild.

Temperatures will retreat for the middle of next week, but precipitation should remain scarce.

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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.

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