Addressing late week snow chances

finger lakes weather forecast tuesday february 25 2020 rain snow lake effect
Snow will become increasingly likely as the week goes on, but the largest snow totals will be outside of the Finger Lakes. [Photo by Helen Heizyk]

Pattern Set Up

I have been fielding many questions about the snow chances later this week, and based on the questions, there seems to be a lot of confusion floating around.

Let’s first take a look at how the weather will evolve over the next several days and then get into more specifics of what is and isn’t known yet.

Waves of low pressure will bring batches of precipitation to the region over the next few days. The first batch of light, scattered rain showers is already through the region this morning.

After a mostly quiet day, new precipitation will move in tonight. For areas roughly west of Seneca Lake, this will fall mostly as light snow. To the east, rain is expected. Those that see snow should see an inch or so in lower elevations with 1-3 inches in higher elevations.

Scattered rain showers will linger behind the main precipitation for much of Wednesday. A stronger low will then track northeast near or over our region.

This low will bring rain into the area late Wednesday, but as it passes by, cold air will turn the rain to snow. Snow will taper off Thursday morning.

The low will then stall out due north of the region and slowly dissipate over the course of Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. This will set up a prolonged period of cold, blustery west or west-northwest winds that will produce lake effect snow.

These winds are not favorable for lake effect in the Finger Lakes, though we will likely see on and off snow showers from Lake Erie.

Temperatures this week will be in the 40s today, upper 30s and low 40s Wednesday, and in the 20s Thursday through the weekend.

So who sees snow?

There are three main windows for snow in the Finger Lakes. First is the light snow overnight tonight, which has already been addressed.

Second is the rain turning to snow Wednesday night and early Thursday. This may produce a period of heavy snow, especially over higher elevations that change to snow quicker. Most lower elevations will probably not see much accumulation, but the typically colder areas need to be watched for a quick, plowable snow.

As with the case most of the winter, these change-over events are full of uncertainty and large variations from one location to the other. The upper limit on snow through Thursday morning right now appears to be around six inches.

Lastly is the lake effect late in the week. For the Finger Lakes, only minor accumulations are expected, though there is some room for uncertainty. Should the lake effect meander south later in the event, Friday night or Saturday, accumulations would be possible near and especially north of I-90.

In the west, areas west of I-390 and in Wyoming County in particular will see heavier snow totals, locally on the order of a foot or so.

The huge snow amounts will be contained to the Tug Hill region, which has yet to see a large lake effect snow event this year. This event will be significant in those areas, with totals measured in feet. I again stress that those snow amounts will only be over a small area far from the Finger Lakes.

It is very possible that some lower elevations in non-lake effect prone areas may see as little as one-three inches of snow from today through Saturday.

I will of course continue to monitor the forecast closely, with special attention on the rain to snow event Wednesday night and the position of the lake effect later in the event. Stay tuned.

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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.

2 Responses

  1. Is the I-390 snow during the Friday-Saturday time frame?

    • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil

      More on Thursday.