High pressure supplies warmer temperatures, late clearing skies

finger lakes weather forecast clouds sun milder northern lights
Skies will clear late today, leading to good viewing conditions should the Northern Lights show up tonight. [Photo by Gwen Moshier] 

Changing Weather

High pressure will track through the Mid-Atlantic region today, resulting in some changes to our weather pattern.

Out ahead of this high, winds over the Finger Lakes remain from the west-northwest. This continues to result in plenty of cloud cover off Lake Ontario, along with a few showers and flurries. At 7 AM, a small band of lake effect was stretching across Cayuga and Cortland counties.

As the morning goes on, the lake effect precipitation will diminish. Clouds will likely stick around into the afternoon. As winds become more westerly and decrease to speeds under 5 mph, the clouds will begin to break up.

The clearing should take place first across the Southern Tier and will slowly work its way north-northeast from there. Most areas should see at least some breaks of sunshine before the sun sets.

Warmer air will start to move in from the west with highs for most in the low 40s today.

Clear skies will become common this evening, coinciding with a potentially strong geomagnetic storm resulting from a solar flare that erupted from the sun on Monday.

Given the strength of the geomagnetic storm, the clear skies, and only a crescent moon that does not rise until after 2 AM, there is at least a chance for the Northern Lights to become visible.

Like with the weather, the media loves to hype cool occurrences in the night sky. So, a word of caution with the media reports surrounding this event:

The Northern Lights are extremely difficult to accurately predict. Their intensity fluctuates rapidly and the true lead time to knowing how they may end up is often less than a half-hour. I personally have been disappointed many times when the Northern Lights have been expected, but never materialize.

Nonetheless, I will absolutely be looking for them tonight and holding out hope that, this time, they do show up!

UPDATE 1 PM- NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center has downgraded the expected intensity of the Geomagnetic Storm from STRONG to MINOR, which decreases the chances of the Northern Lights being seen locally. Still, it is worth keeping an eye out tonight.

There are two small concerns from the weather that may decrease our chances slightly. First, areas of fog may develop this evening where snow is still on the ground. Second, thin clouds will begin to work back into the region after midnight. Overall though, I think conditions for viewing should be good.

Temperatures will stick to the low and mid 30s, so it won’t be too cold, either.

finger lakes weather 7-day forecast thursday december 10 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 thursday december 10 2020

Back to the Weather

Temperatures will continue their upward trend as we head into Friday and the weekend.

South winds will develop tonight and persist into Friday. Top gusts should be near or just over 20 mph.

The thin clouds I mentioned will continue to thicken, though at least some sunshine should be able to filter through.

The warming winds and even partial sunshine will boost temperatures into the low 50s for many areas. Upper 40s are more likely in the higher elevations east of Cayuga Lake, especially across Cortland County.

Friday night’s temperatures will fall to the mid 30s with clouds continuing to thicken. By Saturday, a few showers will become possible as low pressure tracks from the Ohio Valley to an evening position near Lake Erie.

A front will develop ahead of the low but should stay to our north. Despite the clouds, Saturday should therefore see temperatures in the mid 40s.

These temperatures should persist through Saturday night with a chance for low 50s Sunday morning and early afternoon. More rain showers will be possible, and a front will lead to falling temperatures late Sunday.

By Monday, highs will be back in the 30s with a few lake flakes possible.

More Information:

» 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 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.