Long duration snow event set to impact the Finger Lakes in two phases

finger lakes weather forecast snow map sunday january 31 2021 tuesday february 2 2021
Expected snow during PHASE 2 ONLY, starting late Monday and ending early Wednesday. The heaviest snow will fall late Monday night through Tuesday morning.

Event Overview

A multi-day snow event will unfold across the Finger Lakes as a large and powerful storm system redevelops along the East Coast and then stalls out.

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As of Sunday afternoon, low pressure was moving through the Ohio Valley with the first signs of coastal redevelopment starting to show offshore of the Carolinas. Through tonight, the coastal low will continue to develop and become the dominant storm center.

The storm will continue to strengthen on Monday, but will lose its northward progression, instead looping back to the west toward the southern coast of New Jersey. The low will remain there through Monday night and Tuesday morning as it continues to strengthen.

Eventually, the low will start to track back to the northeast, possibly developing a new center of low pressure off the New England coast.

There is high confidence in the overall picture described until Tuesday afternoon. Whether the low meanders to the northeast or a new low develops is still a large question that does have an impact on the weather in the Finger Lakes.

This evolution will bring snow to the Finger Lakes in two phases. Phase One is already underway as light snow spreads into the Southern Tier ahead of the Ohio Valley low. This snow will taper off and even end Monday morning.

Phase Two will begin sometime late Monday afternoon, Monday evening, or possibly not even until Monday night. A band of snow will work its way in from the southeast, spinning off the low pressure center off the coast of New Jersey.

This snow band should persist into Tuesday morning, but how the low moves or evolves on Tuesday will determine both how far west into the Finger Lakes it goes and how long it maintains its strength.

Through Tuesday, the snow band will gradually weaken and transition over to lake effect snow off Lake Ontario. Conditions for lake effect will be marginal at best, and the snow should continue to lose intensity Tuesday night before ending Wednesday morning.

Snow amounts expected from PHASE 1 ONLY, Sunday night into Monday morning. This forecast is unchanged from Saturday evening.

Storm Impacts

No changes in the forecast are expected for Phase 1 of this storm. As I described last night, snow accumulations will remain locked over the Southern Tier with the highest amounts near the NY-PA State Line.

As the snow winds down Monday, travel conditions for much of the day will be in good shape. I expect few if any problems while the sun is up on Monday, except perhaps near the NY-PA State Line.

As snow moves in from the southeast, travel conditions will start to deteriorate. Again, the timing of this occurrence is uncertain, as is the northwestward progression of the snow.

I do expect the band to make it into most of the Finger Lakes region, weakening as it does. Tuesday morning’s commute will be messy throughout the region and will likely require extra time. It does not look like a crippling snow for the commute, though.

Snow will gradually weaken through Tuesday and Tuesday night, but should linger throughout the Finger Lakes, especially in the north where Lake Ontario will contribute extra moisture.

I have placed an area of 8-12” snow amounts for Phase 2 where the best overlap of the snow band Monday Night-Tuesday Morning and the lake enhancement late Tuesday occurs. This is a low confidence forecast due to the complications of the incoming snow band and the wild card of lake enhancement.

I can see an alternative scenario of a broader area of 8-12” snow with locally higher amounts, or a scenario where few if any places reach the 8” threshold. This is my best shot given the data I have available now, my interpretation of it, and my experience forecasting for our region.

Other outlets are bound to have different takes on this, possibly with very significant differences. Each forecaster has their own methods, favorite models, and unique history of forecasting experience. This system is more complex than usual with multiple low pressure redevelopments, lake enhancement, and stalling storm systems. Many other snow maps you may see will combine Phase 1 and Phase 2 into a single map. I have split them up given their distinct nature, the lull between the phases, and the difference in areas most impacted.

It is my hope that the snow map at the top of the blog does not need further adjusting, but if I do need to make adjustments, I will likely publish them during the mid-afternoon hours on Monday, if not with my regularly scheduled blog post Monday morning.

Please continue to monitor the forecast for more updates!

More Information:

» Finger Lakes Weather Radar

» Finger Lakes Weather Radar

» Zip Code Forecasts

» Your Forecast

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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.

  1. John Gregoire

    As of 0630 Mon AM we have a new 3 inches and snowing. Altitude is 1500 to 1700 ft. This on top of 6 inches we had on the ground. Stay well, John (Mecklenburg 4 SW)