Chilly rain ends with a little snow mixing in

finger lakes weather forecast thursday march 18 2021 rain cool snow mix
Steady light rain will fall today, ending as a little wet snow, mainly over higher elevations. A long stretch of sunny and increasingly warm weather is ahead. [Photo by Gwen Moshier]

Cool Thursday-Friday

A strong storm system moving through the Ohio Valley is sending precipitation into the Finger Lakes, even as a strong high pressure system builds into the Great Lakes.

Without the high pressure, heavier rain would likely make it north into the Finger Lakes. Instead, the high will block the northward progression of the rain, leaving steady but light showers in our area.

Some areas of fog are also present this morning, especially in the higher elevations of the southeastern Finger Lakes.

The highest rain amounts today will be around a half inch across the Southern Tier. Amounts will quickly drop with northward progression, with just a tenth of an inch, if even that, north of I-90.

Temperatures will top out in the upper 30s to just above 40 during the midday and early afternoon hours. As the afternoon progresses, temperatures will start to drop as north winds pick up.

The first areas to see a changeover to snow will be the higher elevations of the Bristol Hills into Allegany and Wyoming counties. Snow may start to show up here as early as 3 or 4 PM. By this time, the northern edge of the precipitation will also be moving south and will roughly be along I-90.

The changeover to snow will race the ending of the precipitation. Higher elevations will likely change over for a brief time, while lower elevations will see precipitation end before a changeover can occur. Only a coating to perhaps an inch or locally two is expected in the hills.

Precipitation should move south into Pennsylvania by 8 or 9 PM with just a few stray flurries around for the evening thereafter. North winds will continue to pump cool, dry air into the region with 25-35 mph wind gusts.

By Friday morning, skies should be turning mostly clear and temperatures will be in the upper teens and low 20s.

Friday will be sunny throughout the day, but chilly. North winds will gradually diminish, but still may gust to or over 30 mph through the morning. High temperatures Friday will mostly be in the low 30s, though a few mid 30s will probably show up as well.

finger lakes weather 7-day forecast thursday march 18 2021
This graphic represents an average over the entire Finger Lakes region. Localized variations should be expected. Click to enlarge.

Warm & Dry

High pressure will continue to dominate our weather through the weekend and well into next week. For most of this time, the high will be to our east, which means warmer air will have free passage back into the region.

Winds will shift to the southwest Friday night, holding temperatures in the mid 20s despite clear skies. Saturday’s winds may go back to the northwest for a time, but will be very light and will not hold temperatures back much.

Look for highs Saturday afternoon to be in the low to mid 50s with another sun-filled day.

The warming trend continues on Sunday with highs approaching 60 degrees as winds become south-southeasterly. Clouds will again be next to impossible to find.

More of the same is expected on Monday with highs in the low 60s. Temperatures will be similar on Tuesday, but with a few clouds mixing in, particularly later in the day.

Some showers will be possible on Wednesday next week with a more unsettled pattern thereafter. Still, temperatures will remain mild, with upper 50s and low 60s likely into next weekend.

All throughout this sunny, dry pattern, afternoon relative humidity levels will drop, helping to dry out the dead vegetation from last year. The dry air and warm temperatures will make for two ideal brush fire conditions.

The third condition, wind, will not be present, so the threat will not be as high as it could be. Still, caution will be needed, especially this weekend, when relative humidity values in the afternoon drop below 30%.

More Information:

» Finger Lakes Weather Radar

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finger lakes weather 7-day forecast thursday march 18 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.