Mid-Winter Weather for the Finger Lakes

finger lakes weather forecast wednesday december 18 2019 snow squalls lake effect windy arctic cold front
Snow squalls behind an arctic cold front will make travel tricky at times today in the Finger Lakes. [Photo by Meteorologist Drew Montreuil]

Squalls, Lake Effect, and Arctic Cold

Winter will have its way with the Finger Lakes for the next couple days as an arctic cold front brings squalls followed by lake effect and the coldest air yet this season.

Areas of snow are scattered about the Finger Lakes this morning as a cold front enters from the west. A few heavier bursts exist within a larger area of snow showers.

Roads will be slick at times for the morning commute, especially when and where the heavier bursts hit.

Additional squalls with heavy snow and gusty winds will be likely on and off through the day. These squalls are a bit analogous to summertime thunderstorms. They will come and go rather quickly, but it will not be possible to tell when and where they will be until they actually develop and begin to move around. Individual squalls will move southeast.

Most areas should see a squall at some point today, and many areas will see multiple heavy snow bursts.

During squalls, visibility will drop significantly and white out conditions will be possible. The heavy snow will coat roads in a matter of minutes, making travel treacherous. Wind gusts over 30 mph will not help matters.

Outside of the squalls, like a summer afternoon between storms, some sunshine will be possible and conditions will be improved. The wind will remain gusty though, so areas of blowing and drifting snow is expected. Winds will primarily be from the west-northwest.

Temperatures today will rise a few degrees this morning into the mid and upper 20s, but will fall during the afternoon. By dinnertime, most areas will be in the teens with wind chills dropping below zero.

Squalls will diminish late in the afternoon, but a band of lake effect snow from Lake Ontario will drop south and weaken this evening. Squally conditions will be possible with this band, especially north of a Penn Yan-Ithaca line.

Lake effect snow will churn southeast of Lake Ontario through the night and into Thursday. Wayne, Cayuga, Onondaga, and northern Cortland counties will see several additional inches of accumulation.

Outside of the lake effect, temperatures will fall back into the single digits overnight.

The lake effect will continue lightly in the same areas on Thursday before eventually fizzling out. Mostly cloudy skies with a glimpse or two of sunshine will be possible elsewhere.

High temperatures Thursday will top out in the mid and upper teens.

Weather Settles Down

High pressure will build into the region on Friday and stick around for an extended stay. This will bring us a break in the active weather and, eventually, some not-as-cold temperatures.

A few stray snow showers from Lake Ontario may linger into early Friday morning, but eventually, conditions will become too hostile for lake effect underneath the high pressure system.

Friday and Saturday morning will both be cold with a range of temperatures depending on cloud cover, snow on the ground, and topography. The coldest areas, over the western Southern Tier and Central New York, may slip below zero one or both days. Most other areas will be in the single digits with teens holding along the lake shores.

Sunshine is likely Friday, later Saturday, and into Sunday and Monday. Precipitation is not expected during these times.

Daytime high temperatures Friday should get back to near or above 20 degrees. Saturday will push into the 30s, and 40s are likely by Sunday. Another day of 40s is possible on Monday before cooler air pushes back and returns temperatures to the 30s for the middle of next week.

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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.