Lake effect snow takes over late as widespread snow tapers off

finger lakes weather forecast friday february 19 2021 snow lake effect snow weekend weather
Widespread snow will transition to lake effect by this evening, with flurries and squalls continuing through Saturday. [Photo by Jim Kennedy]

Lake Effect Snow

Widespread light snow continues across the Finger Lakes as we reside on the fringe edge of a larger area of unsettled weather.

While the primary low of this weather complex resides off the coast of the Carolinas this morning, a secondary, much weaker low resides near Buffalo.

The main impact this ill-defined area of lower pressure will have will be to continue light snow showers in our region, but also to give temperatures a slight boost thanks to light south winds ahead of the feature.

Temperatures should make it into the low and even mid 30s for a time this afternoon after working through the 20s this morning. The rising temperatures and light nature of the snow mean additional accumulations today will be minor and mostly confined to the morning hours.

Winds will turn to the west, then northwest, as the low pressure slides east and cooler air will start to filter back into the region. The widespread snow will end, but some lake effect snow will develop in its wake.

finger lakes weather forecast lake effect snow areas
This map shows the relative chances for an area to see over 4 inches of lake effect snow Friday night and Saturday. Locally, as much as 6-8 inches could fall if conditions align properly, but uncertainty remains high.

The models best suited for lake effect show disorganized flurries and squalls this evening and through the night. Conditions become a bit better for lake effect on Saturday, and a more defined band should try to develop over the northern and northeastern Finger Lakes.

Even still, temperatures will only be moderately cold, and winds will continue to shift just enough to disrupt a prolonged lake effect event for any given location.

This also makes pinpointing the areas of heaviest snow nearly impossible. Given the uncertainties, the National Weather Service has issued Winter Storm Watches for the northern and northeastern Finger Lakes. These will be changed to warnings or advisories in time, but the fact that they are still watches is indicative of the uncertainty.

Most areas should see at least a couple periods of lake effect snow tonight through Saturday. These may come in bursts that will bring briefly poor travel conditions and a quick inch of accumulation.

The best chance for two or more inches tonight will be from Wayne to Onondaga county. I think the chances for any location seeing over four inches tonight is low.

During the day Saturday, the snow should focus a bit further south, heading into central and southern Cayuga county and northern Cortland County. Wayne county will continue to see snow as well. Locally an additional 4-6 inches may be possible, but most areas will probably see 1-3 inches.

finger lakes weather 7-day forecast friday february 19 2021

This graphic represents an average over the entire Finger Lakes region. Localized variations should be expected. Click to enlarge.
finger lakes weather forecast lake effect snow areas

Turning a Corner

High temperatures Saturday will end up in the mid 20s. This may be the coldest high temperatures we see for the near future.

Lake effect will taper off Saturday evening, and by Sunday morning, most of the region should be sunny. A light south wind will team up with the sunshine to push temperatures back into the low 30s Sunday afternoon.

Mid 30s are possible on Monday after a morning warm front moves through. This front will likely have a burst of snow with it, which could make travel a bit delayed Monday morning.

Another system will bring some snow and rain showers on Tuesday with highs in the mid 30s. Wednesday looks dry with some sunshine and highs pushing into the 40s.

Temperatures may retreat some Thursday and Friday with highs in the 30s. A stronger weather system may be possible late next weekend with wind, rain, and warmer temperatures. A generally milder pattern should persist into early March.

More Information:

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finger lakes weather 7-day forecast friday february 19 2021This graphic represents an average over the entire Finger Lakes region. Localized variations should be expected.

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Meteorologist Drew Montreuil
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.