Breezy with flurries today, heavy rain & wind for Christmas Eve

finger lakes weather forecast tuesday december 22 2020 cloudy flurries windy
Gusty winds and a few flurries are expected in the Finger Lakes today with heavy rain and wind still likely for Christmas Eve. [Photo by Gwen Moshier]

Tuesday-Wednesday Weather

A disturbance passing south of the region this morning has clouds and a few snow showers in the Finger Lakes.

The chance for on and off snow showers will continue into the afternoon and evening, gradually transitioning from snow associated with the disturbance to lake effect. As this happens, a few breaks of sunshine will be possible during the midday and afternoon hours.

Most of the precipitation with the disturbance is to the south over Pennsylvania. The flurries that exist in the Finger Lakes are brief and light. No accumulation is expected during the daytime hours today, and travel conditions should generally remain in good shape.

The one exception will be a few slick spots this morning, mainly across the Southern Tier from Elmira to Binghamton, where patchy freezing fog developed overnight.

Temperatures are starting the day in the low and mid 30s but will not rise much thanks to a persistent northwest wind. Gusts today could reach 30-35 mph, especially during the early and mid afternoon.

Narrow bands of weak lake effect will persist tonight, mainly across Wayne, Northern Cayuga, and Onondaga counties. Locally an inch or so may accumulate, but most areas will see no more than a coating.

The lake effect will dissipate overnight, and Wednesday should start with some sunshine mixing with the cloud cover. Lows will range through the 20s, but a few pockets from Elmira to Dansville could slip into the upper teens.

Clouds will thicken Wednesday as the next weather maker approaches from the west. With winds turning to the south, highs will be above 35 degrees for most areas with low 40s in and around Rochester.

Little change in temperature is expected Wednesday night as winds increase with gusts of 30-40 mph. The highest gusts will be over higher elevations.

finger lakes weather 7-day forecast tuesday december 22 2020
This graphic represents an average over the entire Finger Lakes region. Localized variations should be expected. Click to enlarge.

Christmas Eve-Christmas Weather Maker

Rain showers will begin to enter the region on Thursday morning. Initially, these will be scattered, but through the afternoon, the rain will become widespread.

Periods of heavy rain are likely Thursday afternoon and evening as low pressure tracks north from Pennsylvania, across the Finger Lakes, and to a position near the east end of Lake Ontario by midnight Thursday night.

Rainfall amounts through midnight should be over an inch for most areas, with pockets of 1.5-2 inches. This could lead to some localized ponding of water and will greatly increase the snow weight in the areas hit hard by last week’s snowstorm.

If you are able to do so safely, removing snow from rooftops is not a bad idea for those that got hit with over 2 feet of snow last week.

Wind gusts of 30-40 mph will continue throughout Thursday. For areas roughly east of Cayuga Lake, the wind may increase further Thursday evening with gusts are high as 50 mph. These higher gusts showing the models could be associated with a pseudo-squall line of enhanced rain and wind Thursday night.

The low will start to weaken after midnight as it tracks northeast along the St. Lawrence Seaway. Colder air will move in, causing temperatures to drop from the low 50s to the low 30s in about an hour. A steady drop back into the 20s will take place from there.

This rapid drop in temperature is most likely to come around or after midnight and should take a few hours to make it from west to east across the region. Much of the precipitation should outrun the cold air, though, so the snow expectations with this system are decreasing. Most areas should expect a fresh coating to an inch or two for Christmas morning.

Still, the water leftover from the heavy rain and snowmelt will freeze, causing treacherous travel conditions late Thursday night into early Friday.

Heavy lake effect snow will develop Friday into Saturday, but will mostly stay out of the immediate Finger Lakes region. Traveling towards Watertown or from Buffalo southward will be difficult. Winter Storm Watches are in effect for those snowbelts.

Outside of the lake effect, partly cloudy skies and a few flurries are expected for the weekend, with temperatures gradually warming from the 20s Friday and Saturday into the 30s Sunday and possibly near 40 Monday.

More Information:

» Finger Lakes Weather Radar

» Finger Lakes Weather Radar

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finger lakes weather 7-day forecast tuesday december 22 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 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.