Winter Storm Monday AM Update: Phase 1 Ends Soon

finger lakes weather forecast monday february 1 2021 winter storm updates
Get the latest important updates on the two-phase winter storm that will continue to impact the Finger Lakes region into Wednesday. [Photo by Meteorologist Drew Montreuil]

Storm Updates

Snow is widespread across the Finger Lakes early this Monday morning as Phase 1 of our long-duration winter storm enters its final stages.

The snow managed to make it a bit further north than expected, with less influence than expected from the dry, arctic high pressure system that moved through this weekend.

These types of small details can be hard to pinpoint but can result in surprises in the evolution of a winter storm. That is why there is higher uncertainty the more complex a system becomes.

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The snow from Phase 1 is associated with low pressure over the Ohio Valley. This low has been on the decline as a coastal low strengthens and will dissipate later this morning. So far, this redevelopment is going roughly as expected.

As the first low dissipates, so too should the snow from Phase 1. Between 9 AM and Noon, the snow should drastically decrease and even end for most places.

The best chance for snow showers to persist will be in the Southern Tier, with on and off bouts of light to moderate snow through the afternoon.

Phase 2 will begin this evening as heavy snow works in from the southeast. The push northwest by this snow will be slow, arriving in Chemung, Tompkins, and Cortland counties between 5-7 PM. By 10 PM, the edge of the snow will be close to or just through Penn Yan, Auburn, and Syracuse.

The snow will have a difficult time reaching areas west of Steuben, Ontario, and Wayne counties during the nighttime hours.

The evolution of the snow during the daytime hours tomorrow remains tricky, but a gradual weakening and westward trend should occur. Areas east of Cayuga Lake may even see the snow stop for a time before the snow begins to pivot back toward the east.

Snow will gradually pull east Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, though some light lake effect snow will fill in behind the primary snow bands. These snow showers should be light but may linger well into Wednesday.

finger lakes weather forecast snow map sunday january 31 2021 tuesday february 2 2021
This map, which was published Sunday afternoon, still has the general idea of what to expect for snow during Phase 2. Slight updates to the map may be necessary, especially near the southern end of Seneca Lake and into Chemung and Tioga counties. Updates will be published this afternoon between 2-4 PM.

Storm Impacts

The highest snow amounts from this storm will center on the area where the band remains in place the longest. These areas need to not only get into the snow early enough tonight to capture the heaviest snow rates, but also need to hold on to the snow throughout Tuesday for those several extra inches that will set them apart.

Multiple models have shown remarkable consistency in pinpointing the area surrounding the southern end of Seneca Lake as the bullseye of precipitation. Sometimes when the models show a bullseye like they are now, it is just noise.

However, given that different models are agreeing on this, and that a similar thing happened with the December storm in the Binghamton area, the possibility of seeing maximum snow amounts in that area should at least be considered.

Therefore, I would say that this area — northern Schuyler, southern Seneca, and southeastern Yates counties — has the best shot at a foot or more of snow. From there, snow amounts will gradually taper off in all directions.

The basic idea I had in the snow map I published last night, shown again here for reference, still holds. I would say that the 8-12” area may need expanding southward into Chemung and Tioga counties.

There remains uncertainty on the western, northern, and eastern edges of the 8-12” zone with exactly how much to expand or contract those boundaries.

The western cut-off in heavier snow amounts through Monroe, Livingston, and western Steuben Counties still looks reasonable.

I will publish a final, adjusted snow map this afternoon in the 2-4 PM time frame, once the morning models are available and can be analyzed relative to the continued evolution of the storm.

For travel conditions, expect some messy roads this morning with an improvement towards midday and the afternoon. This improvement will be diminished the further south you go.

Travel conditions will deteriorate this evening from southeast to northwest. Once the heavy snow starts, it should continue through the night. The Tuesday morning commute will be difficult for many and some delays and cancellations will probably be necessary.

During the day Tuesday, travel conditions should deteriorate in the far west (west of I-390), improve some in the far east (I-81 area), and remain sloppy through most of the Finger Lakes region. Poor travel conditions will persist through Tuesday night with only a gradual improvement on Wednesday.

Wind gusts from the north-northwest will increase to 25-30 mph on Tuesday and Tuesday night. Winds will become more northwesterly on Wednesday with gusts of 30-35 mph. Blowing snow is likely as a result.

Temperatures will generally hold in the low and mid 20s throughout the storm.

A quick look ahead shows some sunshine and milder temperatures in the 30s on Thursday, followed by some mixed precipitation, possibly including ice, for Friday. Another shot of cold air will settle in for the first part of next week.

More Information:

» Finger Lakes Weather Radar

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finger lakes weather 7-day forecast Monday february 1 2021
This 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.

2 Responses

  1. Maria

    Would Wednesday around 3pm going to safe to drive/ arrive in Ithaca for move-in in Cornell?

    • Meteorologist Drew Montreuil

      Yes, everything should be done and over with by then.