Squalls, lake effect flare up behind strong cold front

finger lakes weather forecast friday january 22 2021 lake effect snow map
A narrow but intense band of lake effect will develop tonight, then drop south and weaken Saturday.

Snowy into Saturday

A cold front will move through the Finger Lakes this morning, setting our region up for some brief daytime squalls and areas of heavy nighttime lake effect.

At 7 AM, the front was situated just to our north over Lake Ontario. Over the next several hours, the front will press southeastward, changing the wind direction from the west to the northwest.

The front will pick up a band of lake effect snow from Lake Ontario and bring it south as a squall. Some areas will see a rapid drop in visibility as snowfall rates approach one inch per hour. Travel will quickly become slick.

Additional localized squalls will be possible this afternoon as disorganized lake effect begins to take shape southeast of Lake Ontario. Between squalls, a little sun could poke out.

The squalls will be brief and not all areas will see maximum intensities. Still, be prepared for changing conditions throughout the day.

Winds will be 10-15 mph with occasional gusts to 30 mph. With the influx of cold air, temperatures will not rise much, with highs within a couple degrees of 30.

As the sun sets, temperatures will drop back into the teens and 20s. The lake effect will strengthen and become organized into a well-defined, yet narrow band.

Heavy snow will be possible across the northeastern quadrant of the Finger Lakes with a narrow stripe of over 8 inches in Wayne, Cayuga, and southern Onondaga counties. As with all narrow lake effect events, confidence in the exact placement of the band is at least somewhat uncertain, and snowfall amounts will vary greatly from one location to the next.

Toward dawn Saturday, the band will drift south where it will gradually weaken. The lighter blue areas on the map, including the Penn Yan and Ithaca areas, will see most of their snowfall Saturday morning. Again, though, localized variations are likely.

Flurries are likely to linger across some of these areas through Saturday afternoon and Saturday night, possibly even lasting to Sunday morning. Additional accumulations after noon Saturday should be minimal.

Saturday’s temperatures will top out in just the upper teens and low 20s. Tomorrow looks windier than today, with gusts near 35 mph. With very fluffy snow expected, significant blowing and drifting is likely.

The lingering lake effect snow and clouds will keep temperatures in the teens for most of Saturday night. The one exception will be the western Southern Tier, where single digits are likely.

finger lakes weather 7-day forecast friday january 22 201
This graphic represents an average over the entire Finger Lakes region. Localized variations should be expected. Click to enlarge.

Cold with Some Snow

High pressure should eventually bring an end to the lake effect clouds and snow on Sunday. By the afternoon, most of the region should be sunny.

It will remain cold, though, with highs in the low and mid 20s. Clear skies will remain into Sunday night, allowing temperatures to fall.

Only areas immediately along a lakeshore should stay in the teens, with most areas dropping well into the single digits. A few pockets could slip below zero, but that should not be too common.

Clouds will gradually increase on Monday as a storm system moves through the Ohio Valley toward the Mid-Atlantic. No precipitation is expected during the daytime hours Monday or even Monday evening. South winds ahead of this system will give temperatures a boost into the mid and upper 20s.

Snow should move in late Monday night and linger for much of Tuesday. Heavy accumulations continue to look unlikely in our area, though some moderate accumulations across the southern half of the region remain a decent possibility. No one is expected to get a foot of snow, but a stripe of 6”+ snow could develop.

High pressure will build in behind this system, bringing partly cloudy skies Wednesday, Thursday, and possibly Friday. Temperatures all three days should be in the mid and upper 20s. With few clouds, nighttime temperatures will drop into the single digits.

Temperatures should take another step up next weekend with highs in the 30s. That pattern should continue well into the first week of February at least.

More Information:

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finger lakes weather 7-day forecast friday january 22 201This 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 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.