Busy Christmas Week Weather

finger lakes weather forecast monday december 21 2020 clouds snow christmas rain wind snow ice
Another weak weather system will move through Monday night into Tuesday with a more potent weather system targeting Christmas Eve and Christmas Morning. [Photo by Helen Heizyk]

Active Weather Pattern

A series of weather systems will move through this week, culminating with a stronger system for Christmas Eve into Christmas.

Monday will be a quiet day between systems. Clouds will remain thick much of the day, but a few breaks of sunshine should be expected here and there.

A steady southwest wind will blow at around 5 mph as the next system approaches. These winds should push temperatures into the mid and upper 30s with a few areas breaking 40 degrees, mostly near Rochester and Syracuse.

No precipitation will fall during the daytime hours, but the chances for snow showers will increase this evening. The best chance for widespread snow will be across the southwestern corner of the region in Wyoming, Allegany, Livingston, and Steuben counties. An inch or so may fall in these areas with some slick roads.

Elsewhere, the snow showers will be on and off with little accumulation. A few brief heavier bursts could be possible, though.

These will continue into Tuesday morning and gradually transition over to some limited lake effect as winds turn to the northwest. Wayne, northern Cayuga, and Onondaga counties have the best shot at some brief squalls Tuesday afternoon and evening with locally a couple inches possible.

Temperatures Tuesday will top out in the low and mid 30s.

Wednesday will be between systems, similar to today. More sun is expected Wednesday than it is today, but temperatures will again be in the mid and upper 30s with a few low 40s.

finger lakes weather 7-day forecast monday december 21 2020
This graphic represents an average over the entire Finger Lakes region. Localized variations should be expected. Click to enlarge.

Christmas Storm: Hype vs Reality

A stronger storm system will roll through the Finger Lakes on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. This has been generating hype literally since the moment last week’s snow ended. Here is what to expect, without the hype.

South winds will turn blustery Wednesday afternoon and persist through Wednesday night. Gusts of 30-40 mph will become common and will persist into Thursday.

Temperatures will hold steady Wednesday night, then quickly rise on Thursday. Temperatures should top out near 50 degrees Thursday afternoon and remain that warm into Christmas Eve.

Rain showers will move in from the west later Thursday afternoon, increasing in intensity for the evening. At some point Thursday night, a strong cold front will come through. There is some potential for a line of heavy rain and enhanced winds. Locally an inch or more of rain could fall between Thursday afternoon and evening.

With the passage of the cold front, temperatures will plummet from near 50 to the low 30s in less than an hour, followed by a slower but steady drop into the 20s.

Rain will turn to snow, and a few hours of heavy snow will be possible. Snowfall rates over an inch per hour will be possible.

The heavy snow and nosediving temperatures may lead to flash freeze conditions on the roadways, producing hazardous travel conditions overnight into early Christmas morning.

Snow amounts look to be in the 3-6 inch range at this time. Heavier snow seems unlikely since this system will be quickly moving to the east.

The timing of this transition to snow and when the snow ends Friday morning are the main uncertainties and will have obvious impacts on travel.

Lake effect should kick in behind this system with some possibly heavy snows just outside of the Finger Lakes. On Friday, the lake effect will be focused near and south of Buffalo and in the Watertown area. This will gradually come south and weaken for Saturday and possibly linger into early Sunday.

Temperatures will continue to drop on Christmas Day Friday, ending up near 20 in the afternoon and in the teens and single digits Friday night. Saturday will have highs in the mid 20s with 30s returning for Sunday.

More Information:

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finger lakes weather 7-day forecast monday december 21 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.

2 Responses

  1. Rob A

    Will the cloud cover this evening prevent viewing of the Great Conjunction tonight?

    • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil

      Yes, almost certainly 🙁