Lull Thursday before lake effect returns Friday-Saturday

finger lakes weather forecast thursday january 21 2021 cloudy low pressure lake effect cold
A cold front tonight will bring lake effect back into the region with some areas of heavy snow Friday into Saturday. [Photo by Gwen Moshier]

Moderate Lake Effect Event

An area of low pressure north of the Great Lakes sent a warm front through the region early this morning.

Southwest winds and quiet conditions today will allow temperatures to return to the 30s. A few places along and north of I-90 may even sneak into the upper 30s for a time this afternoon.

Clouds will remain plentiful, but a few glimpses of sunshine cannot be ruled out. The winds will be strongest in the northwestern quadrant of the region where gusts over 30 mph will be possible. Winds will gradually become less the further southeast you go.

A cold front will move into the region from the north this evening, triggering an outbreak of snow across the northern half of the Finger Lakes. The snow will dissipate as it heads further south. Some areas could see around an inch from this initial snow.

Friday will be marked by a spray of flurries and squalls off Lake Ontario as winds turn to the northwest. Conditions are favorable for squalls with snowfall rates around an inch per hour, which could cause brief travel issues.

It will be the type of day where one moment, it is not snowing, and then next moment, visibilities are under a quarter-mile. Fifteen minutes later, the snow is done again until the pattern repeats itself.

West-northwest winds will blow at 10-15 mph with gusts as high as 30 mph. Temperatures will start the day in the upper 20s to near 30 and will only rise a couple degrees during the day.

The lake effect will become better organized Friday evening with one primary strong band of snow and several weaker bands. The primary band will start across Wayne, northern Cayuga, and Onondaga counties before gradually dropping south.

By Saturday morning, the band will still be well defined, but not as strong, as it stretches roughly from Geneseo to Penn Yan to Ithaca.

Most areas across the northeastern Finger Lakes should see a couple inches of snow Friday night, but there is a chance for a narrow corridor of heavy snow with totals over six inches of very fluffy snow. At this time, this seems most likely across southern Wayne, central Cayuga, and southern Onondaga counties.

finger lakes weather 7-day forecast thursday january 21 2021
This graphic represents an average over the entire Finger Lakes region. Localized variations should be expected. Click to enlarge.

Monitoring Next Week

The snow will gradually taper off Saturday, but I suspect flurries will linger across the hills of Central New York deep into the afternoon. Temperatures on Saturday will mostly be around or slightly above 20, but some higher elevations may not escape the mid teens.

Saturday night will be cold, but lake effect clouds should prevent the temperatures from bottoming out. Sunday morning lows should range from 5 to 10 degrees in the higher elevations to the mid teens near the lakes.

Clouds will gradually dissipate on Sunday, leaving a good deal of sunshine, especially in the afternoon. High temperatures will remain suppressed, though, with low 20s for most areas.

Skies may remain clear Sunday evening, allowing temperatures to quickly drop. Areas immediately adjacent to lakes may stay in the teens, but most places will fall back into the single digits. Pockets of sub-zero temperatures will be possible.

Clouds will eventually move in near or after dawn Monday as a storm system approaches from the southwest. Confidence is increasing the snow will overspread the area Monday night into Tuesday with at least some accumulation.

A cold high pressure system will build in behind the low, keeping the rest of our week quiet, but chilly, with highs mostly between 20-25 degrees.

An active pattern looks possible for next weekend or early in February, but there is no confidence in any specific threats at this time. Temperatures look as though they may moderate back towards highs in the 30s for early February.

More Information:

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finger lakes weather 7-day forecast thursday january 21 2021This graphic represents an average over the entire Finger Lakes region. Localized variations should be expected.

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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.