As Phase 1 winds down, snow chances increase for Phase 2 Friday

finger lakes weather forecast thursday february 6 2020 snow ice freezing rain sleet friday snow amounts
Spotty ice and rain will continue today before precipitation increases tonight. Snow and wind will have a meaningful impact on the day tomorrow. [Photo by Gwen Moshier]

Phase 1 – Thursday

As expected, an icy mix of snow, sleet, and freezing rain has moved through the Finger Lakes during the predawn hours.

Much of the precipitation is now northeast of the area with a few scattered pockets of freezing drizzle or sleet remaining. This is the lull in the precipitation that I have been talking about.

Travel remains slick this morning, but conditions should slowly improve without steady precipitation this morning. Most areas south of I-90 should warm above freezing by the late morning, further improving travel conditions.

Spotty rain and, north of the Thruway, freezing rain will continue throughout the day. The ice will spread southeastward this evening with showers becoming more common. Travel this evening will be more difficult than it will be for most of today. Still, this will only pose moderate travel difficulties.

Phase 2- Friday

The chances for accumulating snow have grown for the Finger Lakes on Friday, though several key questions still need to be resolved.

Precipitation will become more widespread and heavier by dawn Friday. This will especially be the case east of I-390.

Most of this will be snow, but some sleet or freezing rain may hold on until sunrise for areas from Watkins Glen to Syracuse and eastward. How quickly this mixed precipitation turns to snow is one major issue.

The second is placing the heaviest band of precipitation. Models yesterday shot westward with the band over most of the Finger Lakes. Overnight, the models went back to the east. This waffling of the models is not uncommon, and I suspect the westward push was a temporary aberration.

Still, I would like to see a couple more runs of the models to confirm my thinking before publishing a snow map, as the difference between the heavy band of precipitation being over our region or staying east results in a major change to the forecast. Publishing a map now, and then needing to change it significantly by this afternoon, would cause a huge amount of confusion.

If my thinking is confirmed, most of the Finger Lakes will end up with a 4-8 inch forecast with an area of 8-12 inches across northeastern areas and along the shore of Lake Ontario.

What we can say is that at least a moderate snowfall is likely tomorrow for much of the Finger Lakes with a small potential for a significant storm.

The snow will be heaviest in the morning with snowfall rates over an inch per hour likely. The snow will become lighter in the afternoon, but winds will increase and temperatures will drop, keeping travel conditions treacherous. I anticipate the travel impacts to be much greater tomorrow than they are today.

Spotty power outages will be possible thanks to the weight of the ice and snow, followed by northwest wind gusts of 30-40 mph. The strongest gusts will be over the southeastern half of the Finger Lakes region.

Winter Storm Watches are in effect for Phase 2 of the storm for most of the region and will likely be turned to a mix of Winter Weather Advisories and Winter Storm Warnings later today.

Local News from the Cortland Voice

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Weekend Weather

While the main area of snow will pull out Friday afternoon, some lake effect snow will develop in its wake. Areas along the shore of Lake Ontario, as well as the favored areas for lake effect on a northwest wind throughout the eastern Finger Lakes, could see a couple extra inches through Friday evening.

The lake effect should become lighter Friday night, but flurries will linger into Saturday, mostly north of I-90 from Lake Ontario, and across the Southern Tier from Lake Erie.

Saturday will be a cold day. Morning lows will start in the teens and upper single digits. Afternoon highs will stay in the mid and upper teens. Winds will not be as strong as on Friday, but may still gust over 20 mph. This will keep the wind chill between -5 and +5.

High pressure will build in late Saturday, ending most of the lake effect and clearing skies. Winds in the evening will become nearly calm. Temperatures will rapidly fall in the evening with many areas outside of the influence from cities and lakes dropping to or below zero.

However, south winds will increase overnight and temperatures will start to rise. By dawn, most areas should be well above zero, though a few pockets of subzero temperatures may remain. Temperatures will quickly rise through the teens and 20s Sunday morning with afternoon highs reaching the mid 30s.

A few flurries will be possible Sunday morning with some breaks of sun in the middle of the day.

Light snow moves back in Sunday night with an inch or so of accumulation before it turns to rain showers for Monday.

FUTURE UPDATES

  • Friday Snow Report (Between 3-5 PM Thursday)
  • Normal Friday Morning Blog Post (Between 7-8 AM Friday)
  • Normal Saturday Morning Blog Post (Between 7-8 AM Saturday)

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Meteorologist Drew Montreuil
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 and also run a goat milk soap business, Ye Olde Goat Cart. When not working or playing with the boys, he is probably out for a run through the countryside.