Sunshine increases today, but clouds return for the weekend

finger lakes weather forecast friday december 18 2020 sunny high pressure cloudy unsettled weekend
High pressure will bring increasing sunshine to the Finger Lakes today, but it will be short-lived with clouds returning Saturday. [Photo by Gwen Moshier]

High Pressure Builds In

A sprawling area of high pressure extends from Quebec, Canada to the Gulf States this morning and will bring increasing sunshine to the Finger Lakes.

The day is starting off with some cloud cover low in the atmosphere, partially aided by cool winds flowing over Lake Ontario. These clouds will stick around for much of the morning, but skies will turn sunnier this afternoon.

Winds will be very light today with speeds around or under 5 MPH. Most of the day, winds will be from the northwest. As the center of the high passes over this evening, winds will turn to the south for the overnight.

Thin clouds will also return overnight as some unsettled weather builds in behind the high pressure.

Temperatures will be wintry today with highs mostly in the mid 20s. Evening temperatures will rapidly drop thanks to the combination of clear skies, nearly calm winds, and the fresh snowpack.

As usual with this type of setup, temperatures will vary greatly depending on geographic features. Cities and areas near lakes will fall into the teens, but outlying cold pockets should easily fall into the single digits. By Saturday morning, a few isolated sub-zero temperatures are possible.

The south wind and thin clouds should slow the temperature fall and result in morning lows a couple degrees higher than they would be otherwise.

Clouds will thicken on Saturday as high pressure loses its influence. Precipitation is not expected during the daytime hours, though.

South winds will help temperatures recover from the chilly start, with highs for much of the region in the low and mid 30s. Areas where the snowpack is thickest, from Elmira to Cortland to Binghamton, are more likely to stick to the mid and upper 20s.

finger lakes weather 7-day forecast friday december 18 2020
This graphic represents an average over the entire Finger Lakes region. Localized variations should be expected. Click to enlarge.

Unsettled Pattern

The first in a series of disturbances will move in for Saturday night and Sunday.

Light snow showers are expected overnight Saturday and should continue into Sunday morning. Locally an inch or so may fall, but generally, few impacts are expected.

As the snow moves out in the afternoon, it may mix with or turn to rain, especially north of I-90. Sunday’s highs in those areas may reach the upper 30s while the rest of the region remains in the mid 30s.

Monday will have a mix of sun and clouds with light south winds. Temperatures will reach the low 40s for roughly the northern half of the region with upper 30s to the south.

A few rain and snow showers will drift through on Tuesday, once again with little to no impact on day-to-day life. High temperatures will be in the mid to perhaps upper 30s.

Wednesday will be another quiet day with morning sun giving way to afternoon clouds. Highs will be around 40 for much of the region.

Frequently, when a big winter storm strikes, there is an inclination to jump on any potential for the next big system. This is happening with a system for the middle of next week, with the hype enhanced by the fact that it is Christmas Eve and Christmas when said system is expected.

The system that may move through next Thursday is nothing like the storm that we just experienced. The pattern is much less certain to produce a significant system, and even if it does, there will be major questions on precipitation type.

I am watching the models and trends closely and will share more details as they become clear, but as of now, there is no need to be anxious about our Christmas weather.

More Information:

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finger lakes weather 7-day forecast friday december 18 2020

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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.

3 Responses

  1. Carolyn

    I’ll be driving out of the Ithaca area on Sunday – it doesn’t sound like the snow will be too bad. Would there be a good time to leave to miss some of the precipitation? Thank you Drew and hope you and your family have happy holidays.

    • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil

      Right now, it looks like there will be less precipitation during the latter half of the afternoon vs the rest of the day. Happy Holidays to you and yours, too! 🙂

      • Carolyn

        Thank you!