After snow departs today, focus turns to the Weekend

finger lakes weather forecast wednesday december 2 2020 snow coastal low weekend uncertainty
Snow will depart the Finger Lakes by the afternoon, allowing focus to turn towards sorting through a variety of possibilities for the weekend’s weather. [Photo by Gwen Moshier]

Snow Ends This Morning

Low pressure is slowly lifting north and will lose its influence over our weather this afternoon.

A pseudo-front rotating around the low is bringing some widespread snow to the area this morning. This is the last main batch of precipitation to come through the Finger Lakes from this system.

The snow will come down steadily at times, with another inch or two accumulating. The area of snow will gradually track eastward and should exit the eastern reaches of the Finger Lakes region early this afternoon.

The day should end with some sunshine and skies will be mostly clear this evening.

Winds will primarily be from the west-northwest and will be their strongest during the late morning and early afternoon. Wind speeds of 10-15 mph with gusts of 30-40 mph are likely.

Temperatures will mostly be in the mid 30s with pockets of low 30s over higher elevations. A drop into the upper 20s and low 30s will occur this evening, but winds will turn to the southwest and hold temperatures steady overnight.

Thursday will be a mix of sun and clouds with highs jumping into the low and mid 40s. Southwest winds will persist at 5-10 mph. Clouds will thicken late in the day.

finger lakes weather 7-day forecast wednesday december 2 2020
This graphic represents an average over the entire Finger Lakes region. Localized variations should be expected. Click to enlarge.
finger lakes weather 7-day forecast wednesday december 2 2020

No-Hype Weekend Analysis

By Friday, a dip in the northern branch of the jet stream will be working through the Great Lakes, leading to some scattered showers and flurries across the Finger Lakes.

Meanwhile, a low caught up in the southern branch of the jet stream will be working into the Lower Mississippi and Tennessee Valleys. It is becoming increasingly likely that these two features will phase together this weekend, producing some sort of coastal storm for the Northeastern United States.

The major key to this weekend’s weather will be the degree and speed of this phasing. A quicker, more complete phasing favors a stronger, more western storm track. Slower, less complete phasing would produce a low that is weaker and heads east into the Atlantic quicker.

Still on the table as well is little to no phasing, which is what the models were in fairly good agreement on 24 hours ago. This would result in a scenario described in yesterday’s blog, with just a few snow showers this weekend. However, there have been hints at this pattern and a stormy weekend for quite some time, so the shift away from this scenario is not surprising.

So, what does this all mean for the Finger Lakes? First, we need to quickly review what ensemble models are.

An ensemble suite is when a given model is run numerous times, each time with a slight change in the parameters or input. This provides a broader look at the possibilities. If the ensembles are all in good agreement, confidence is high in that scenario. However, when many different possibilities show, confidence is lower.

I typically look to the European model ensembles. The European is consistently the most accurate model in the world, and the ensemble suite has 51 members, giving a wide look at the possibilities.

As of now, nearly half of the ensemble members have 2 inches of snow or less for Ithaca this weekend. On the flip side, about 20% show significant snow, with a few producing an all-out snowstorm.

Given the previous discussion on phasing, it would take a rapid and nearly perfect phasing for a major snow event in the Finger Lakes. The ensembles show this is possible, but not the most likely scenario. Much more likely is a moderate to weak phasing that takes longer to develop, keeping the resultant low further east.

There very well may be a major snow event this weekend, and you will probably start seeing clickbait headlines and impressive screenshots of individual models to strengthen the narrative.

At this time, though, it seems most likely that the Finger Lakes will see just some light snow Saturday, either on the far western edge of this system or from lake effect snow showers due to northwest winds behind it.

Nonetheless, you can be assured that I have been and will continue to very closely monitor this scenario and will have more details on exactly what to expect this weekend over the next 24-48 hours.

More Information:

» Finger Lakes Weather Radar

» Finger Lakes Weather Radar

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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.

  1. Pam Van Gelder

    You ROCK Drew!