Winter Weather Advisories issued ahead of complex winter weather

finger lakes weather forecast snow map thursday february 6 2020
Several inches of snow will fall near Lake Ontario by Thursday morning while sleet and freezing rain dominate the southern half of the region. This map is through 9 AM Thursday ONLY and does not include Friday’s snow.

Phase I – Wednesday Night-Thursday

All the Finger Lakes, Central New York, and Western New York are under Winter Weather Advisories from late tonight into Thursday.

A Winter Weather Advisory is not as serious as a warning, but is issued when wintry weather will cause travel concerns.

The culprit will be an area of low pressure that will track northeast to a position near Elmira by Thursday afternoon. The interplay between incoming warmer air and preexisting cold air will make for a wide range of precipitation types throughout the region.

Precipitation will first move into the region between 11 PM and 1 AM tonight. This precipitation will start as snow, but for the southern half of the region, will quickly turn over to sleet. Further north, mostly snow is expected.

The initial push of precipitation will only last a few hours before tapering off. Before dawn arrives, new precipitation will be moving in from the south.

This precipitation will be a bit less widespread compared to the first batch, but will still be significant enough that everyone should see at least some additional precipitation in the 6-9 AM window. This second batch will mostly be sleet to the north and freezing rain further south.

Already by 8 or 9 AM, plain rain will start to take over in the areas shaded in the gray T-1” zone on the map above.

On and off showers are likely throughout Thursday. Areas north of a Dansville-Geneva-Syracuse line, or roughly  the I-90 and I-390 corridors, will continue to see freezing rain with temperatures failing to climb above 32 degrees. Travel conditions here will remain slick.

Further south, precipitation should stay rain through the late morning and afternoon hours. Temperatures here will be in the mid and upper 30s.

The areas shaded in blue have the best chance for seeing plowable snow Friday morning, but not everyone within that shaded area will end up getting that much snow.

Phase II – Thursday Night – Friday

Showers will continue through Thursday evening, but cold air will start to advance southeastward. Rain will turn to freezing rain, then sleet, then snow. The entire region should become snow before 6 AM Friday.

Most of this precipitation will be light, but travel conditions will remain less than ideal through the night thanks to the ice.

A new low pressure will then track into southeastern New York, enhancing the precipitation Friday morning. There are a couple major questions that remain with this phase, however.

First is how quickly the cold air takes over and changes precipitation to snow. If this happens before the precipitation intensifies, snow totals will be higher.

Second is the placement of the heaviest band of snow. A relatively narrow corridor will see 3-7 inches of snow in a short time Friday morning. This could happen over the eastern Finger Lakes, or it could set up outside of our region to the east.

Areas further west will see an additional couple inches, but it should not cause too many problems. The snow will taper to flurries Friday afternoon and evening before coming to an end.

Important Notes

This is an extremely complex set up for our region. Most of the time, there will be a variety of precipitation types falling across the region. Elevation and terrain will have a large impact on localized variation and the timing of transition from one type to the next.

With that in mind, I have attempted to give as much detail as possible in my descriptions and on my maps. There will be variations in what actually happens, though.

The bottom line is to prepare for icy, snowy travel over the next two days. The best window for travel will be in the late morning and afternoon on Thursday for areas south of I-90 and east of I-390.

Second, the snow map I published above is ONLY for the first part of this system. I have seen maps that lump both parts in together, making for the appearance of higher snow amounts. However, since there are two distinct phases, I feel breaking things down gives a better feel for the impacts of the event.

Lastly, there were a couple comments in my recent survey about my preference in publishing a single map per event and holding off until there is confidence. I do not do this to make myself look good, but to decrease confusion and increase usefulness of the forecasts.

Especially in the social media age, publishing multiple maps leads to confusion, as Population A will only see the first map, Population B will only see the second map, and a much smaller Population C will get to see both and realize there was an update.

That being said, I do understand that some people need to make plans further in advance. Please, if that is the case, just ask me what you need to know. That is the power of my core value of ACCESSIBILITY, which is on equal footing as accuracy.

I frequently give people personalized information to help their specific needs days ahead of an event. While publicly I need to keep the narrative consistent and clear, privately I can go into more detail to fit your personalized needs.

I will continue to work towards finding the balance between waiting for clarity and giving lead time for events. My additional map above for Friday is an attempt at doing so. Every event is different, and some are more easily put into a graphical format than others.

In the end, know that I take every comment and suggestion seriously and will continue to do my best to give you the information you need to prepare for and deal with whatever the weather throws at us.

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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.

21 Responses

  1. Crystal

    Hi Drew,

    I’m planning to drive to JFK from Cortland Friday afternoon. If I go south through Scranton and leave at 1 pm will the conditions be ok?

    • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil

      Hi Crystal…sorry for the delay, just saw this! You can expect moderate snow as you leave with increasingly gusty winds…but the snow will be heading north, so conditions will improve gradually. I’d plan for double the time to get to Scranton, then a bit extra to geet to JFK from there.

  2. Lori Welsh

    Excellent point! (“Especially in the social media age, publishing multiple maps leads to confusion, as Population A will only see the first map, Population B will only see the second map, and a much smaller Population C will get to see both and realize there was an update.”)

  3. Denise Fiacco

    Your website & Facebook page are the VERY 1st ones I go to for Weather Information. I have and will continue to share both as your details are the most precise for our area (I am in Newark). It definitely helps that folks can reach out to your with questions. Thank you for offering to answer questions. Be safe! Thank you for your dedication.

    • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil

      Thank you for your kind words, Denise!

  4. Val

    Thank you for the update! I plan to drive east towards north of Long Island Midday Friday. How would weather conditions be then, for driving?

    • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil

      It is going to be a snowy trip until you get east of the Catskills. Be ready for some very heavy snow in southeastern NY until you punch out of the snow and into the rain.

  5. Tom L

    I am headed to Keuka Lake on Thursday, should arrive about 8-9 pm. If I read this correctly I should miss the snow and am likely to be traveling in rain? Coming up from eastern PA.

    • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil

      Yes mostly, though some ice may be mixing back in by the time you get to Keuka. The earlier you can arrive the better.

    • Jackie W.

      Hi, Drew:

      I’m a little bit out of your range (14803) but was wondering where the heck is all the snow? Any chance we might have better slope conditions at Swain by Saturday?

      Thanks, friend.

      • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil

        Hi Jackie! Swain may be able to get a couple inches of snow to help conditions a bit. This seems to just be one of those icy, messy winters unfortunately.

        PS- You aren’t outside my forecast zone 🙂

  6. Nicole

    Hi Drew,

    I have a big interview in Binghamton on Thursday at 11am and am driving from Geneva. I was planning on leaving at 8am to give myself extra time, but my car is not the best in slippery conditions. I’d prefer not to postpone and was even thinking of driving down tonight to get a hotel room even though not ideal. I would appreciate your guidance! (And I really appreciate your work.)

    • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil

      Hi Nicole,

      The safest option would probably be going down tonight.

      That being said, there is going to be a small window where the precipitation probably lets up. That will probably move through before 8am, but it may give road crews some time to clean up. As the new precipitation moves in and you head south, there will be pockets of ice, but an increasing amount of plain rain. I would be most concerned about the very start of your journey and any higher elevations.

      It is a very close call between your route being mostly fine tomorrow and it being rather slick…

      • Nicole

        Thank you so much Drew, I really appreciate it. Incidentally my interview location was just changed from Binghamton to Ithaca, so I’m thinking the hour drive from Geneva to Ithaca, starting around 9am to give myself plenty of time for 11am interview, should be better chances of cleared roads and rain instead of ice?
        After that I was planning on driving down to my parents in PA, which from Ithaca is about a 2.5 hour drive straight south, and it seems that the driving conditions between noon and 3pm should be better, or at least plain rain instead of ice? Or, if it were you would you postpone that trip?

        Thank you! Will be donating to your site for the great no-hype and personalized, honest work that you do.

        • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil

          You are welcome! Leaving at 9 and only getting to Ithaca should work well for you. Assuming you will be taking 96A to 96…the place to watch will be in the Ovid area. Cutting over to 89 would decrease the chances of any ice further.

          Going down into PA should be fine Thursday afternoon with scattered rain showers. There could be a little lingering freezing rain in the highest elevations of northern PA, but that should be pretty rare.

          Thank you for your support! I greatly appreciate it!

  7. Nathan Zimmerman

    Thanks for the updates Drew. We are planning to drive from Buffalo to Waneta Lake (via I-390 from Mt. Morris to Bath) on Saturday. Will the second event be over by then?

    • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil

      Hi Nathan! Yes phase 2 will be long gone by Saturday. Just a few lake effect flurries are expected, if even that.

  8. Trish

    Thank you for the accessibility and answering my question on FB. Yesterday I changed my Thursday 820 appointment to 220 that afternoon.

    • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil

      Glad to help! 🙂

  9. Sherry

    TY, Drew. Traveling from Ithaca/Lansing to DeWitt for important post-surgery medical appointment scheduled for 11 AM Friday. Usually a 1-hour trip. Prefer to avoid postponing. Any suggestions?

    • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil

      Things will be turning over to rain by that time but some roads will still be sloppy. Give yourself a good chunk of extra time and it should be doable.