An area of low pressure passed through the Finger Lakes last night. Cold air is now entering into the region on gusty northwest winds.
Precipitation is changing from rain to snow early this morning. The snow will become more widespread through the morning before transitioning to more localized snows this afternoon.
The snow will be slow to accumulate this morning with temperatures sticking near or above freezing. Most areas will only see a coating to perhaps an inch by lunchtime. Some areas will not even see that.
The temperature will continue to slide back this afternoon, dropping into the 20s first over higher elevations, and eventually for all areas by the evening.
A few squalls may develop this afternoon separate from the primary lake effect, causing briefly difficult travel conditions. These seem especially likely from Penn Yan west and south between 1-3 PM, thanks to a band of lake effect from the Georgian Bay in Canada.
Otherwise, the snow will consolidate to the favored lake effect areas under northwest winds, namely from Wayne county southeastwards towards Cortland county, and in the western Southern Tier. Snow will begin to accumulate faster here as temperatures continue to drop.
The snow will gradually shift westward during the evening and overnight as winds turn more northerly. The lake effect should be greatly diminished after midnight, with just a few flurries lingering at dawn.
In addition to the snow, it will be windy today. Wind gusts of 40 mph are possible throughout the region, with gusts over 45 mph in the Southern Tier and near the southern tips of the Finger Lakes.
The wind will combine with snow to cause travel difficulties this afternoon and especially this evening in the lake effect areas.
By Friday morning, temperatures will be in the lower half of the teens with a few upper single digits in the typically coldest areas. Friday afternoon’s highs will be near or just shy of 20 degrees.
Lake clouds will quickly dissipate Friday morning, leaving skies sunny for the middle of the day. New clouds will build in late ahead of this weekend’s storm system, which is currently straddling the Pacific Coast of British Columbia, just north of Seattle.
Weekend Weather Expectations
Before getting too far into this weekend’s weather, the post I made late Tuesday detailing the reality and hype surrounding this system is still a valid and worthwhile read. If you have not yet taken the time to read it, please do so: https://flxweather.com/2020/01/14/weekend-winter-storm-sorting-through-the-early-hype
Over the last few days, the models have not changed too drastically in their simulations. Typical waffling back and forth with the track and strength of the system has been occurring.
This system has been lurking just offshore for at least the last 18 hours, giving us a partial upgrade in available observational data, but not the full benefits of having the core of the storm over land. That should occur today, which in turn should spur more confidence in the models tomorrow.
The biggest question locally continues to be whether or not sleet mixes in during the peak of the precipitation Saturday afternoon. The jury is still out on this, though my experience tends to make me lean towards a mixed precipitation event, and thus lower snow totals.
Another interesting aspect of this system is the trajectory the precipitation will take to arrive here. Coming from the southwest, the precipitation will first encounter higher elevations over western Pennsylvania. Some models indicate that these higher elevations will wring out extra moisture in those areas, causing a shadow effect of lighter precipitation locally.
I have seen this phenomenon happen before in winter weather events, so it is very interesting to see the models actually picking up on it as well. This would be another strike against a significant event in our region.
The final strike will be the relatively short duration of the heavy precipitation. While the precipitation will likely come down quite hard, it will only last a few hours before tapering off to a mix of rain and snow showers Saturday night.
In the end, our impacts may be limited to a 4-8 hour window of poor travel conditions late Saturday afternoon and early Saturday evening with modest snow amounts.
Temperatures will jump into the mid 30s Saturday night, but will then spend most of Sunday in the 20s. Like today, winds will be strong and lake effect will be in the region. These winds will be more westerly, so the snow will likely come from Lake Erie. A few areas could see an additional couple inches.
Winds turn more northwesterly Monday, bringing Lake Ontario back into play for the northeastern Finger Lakes. While the snow Monday may be rather insignificant, it looks as though it will flare up Monday night in the same general areas expecting the most snow today.
The snow will come to an end early Tuesday as high pressure builds in. The rest of next week looks quiet. Temperatures Monday and Tuesday will stick in the low 20s, but 40s look possible again as early as Thursday.
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