Focus shifts to next winter weather event

finger lakes weather forecast snow ice end warm lake effect next storm thursday
As conditions improve across the Finger Lakes this morning, focus shifts to the next weather system set to arrive late Thursday. [Photo by Gwen Moshier]

First Storm Winds Down

After a period of snow, sleet, and freezing rain overnight, dry air has overtaken the Finger Lakes early this morning.

Low pressure continues to track northward through western Pennsylvania. Dry air has wrapped around the low and into the Finger Lakes, ending the heavy precipitation and leaving an icy mess behind.

When I published my forecast on Sunday, I stressed two important factors that led me to predict lower snow amounts. First, that the ice would make it much further northwest than expected, and that the dry air would end the storm early.

Both of these came true, and for some areas, had an even greater impact on reducing snow totals than even my already aggressive forecast predicted. This once again shows that meteorology is so much more than simply reporting what computer models show and requires a truly scientific approach.

Now, prior to 6 AM, most of the precipitation has already moved out of the Finger Lakes. What does remain is a mix of plain rain in the southeastern Finger Lakes, changing to freezing rain for the northeastern Finger Lakes. Further west, a few flurries remain.

The trend this morning will be for just a few spits of occasional precipitation and warming temperatures. Most of the Finger Lakes should climb above freezing this morning, and a surge of low 40s should make it as far northwest as Bath, Penn Yan, Auburn and Syracuse.

Travel conditions will remain hazardous until temperatures climb above freezing, but conditions should rapidly improve as the temperatures rise.

Winds will turn to the northwest and increase this afternoon, pushing cold air back through the region. Temperatures will quickly fall, with most areas in the 20s or low 30s by 3 PM. Winds will start to gust between 25-35 mph and snow showers will move back into the region.

After light snow for a couple hours, lake effect will take over as the primary mechanism for snow overnight. Wayne, northern Cayuga, and Onondaga counties may see several inches in localized areas overnight.

By Wednesday morning, the lake effect will be dissipating with clearing skies. Temperatures will be in the single digits for areas that do not see lake effect, with low teens for those near lakes and under lake effect clouds.

finger lakes weather 7-day forecast tuesday february 16 2021
This graphic represents an average over the entire Finger Lakes region. Localized variations should be expected. Click to enlarge.

Next Winter Weather Event

After a quiet day Wednesday with a mix of sun and clouds and temperatures in the low and mid 20s, another low pressure system will take shape over the Gulf of Mexico.

This low will take a similar path to the storm we just experienced, coming onshore near Alabama and continuing northeast through the Appalachians.

However, the pattern is not completely the same. For example, high pressure will move through the region tomorrow and set up over northern New England on Thursday. This feature was not present with our current storm, and could have two impacts on this new system.

First, high will prevent the rapid northeastward speed of the low, allowing for more time for coastal redevelopment. Second, the high may be able to push colder air in from the northeast to counteract some of the influx of warmer air.

Over the next 24 hours, how this all comes into play will need to be worked out. As of now, I suspect that this event should remain mostly or all snow, resulting in a moderate, but not extreme snow event. I hope to have a snow map no later than Wednesday morning. Much of the region may again end up with a 4-8 inch forecast.

Precipitation from this second event will most likely start sometime Thursday afternoon with light to moderate snow through Thursday night. Snow showers may linger into Friday, but most of the accumulation should take place Thursday night.

A pattern shift will slowly take place over the weekend, leading to a more western storm track. This could lead to some influxes of mild air intermixed with generally near average temperatures as opposed to the consistent cold air of the last several weeks.

More Information:

» Finger Lakes Weather Radar

» Finger Lakes Weather Radar

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finger lakes weather 7-day forecast tuesday february 16 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.