Concern for severe thunderstorms today

finger lakes weather forecast thursday august 12 2021 severe thunderstorms hot humid
While uncertainty remains high, there is potential for widespread severe thunderstorms this afternoon in the Finger Lakes. [Photo by Meteorologist Drew Montreuil]

Hot Again, Too

Today will have the best chance for thunderstorms so far this week across the Finger Lakes as a small disturbance moves into the area.

Showers and storms are ongoing early this morning from southern Canada, back through Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois. While most of the current activity will dissipate of move south this morning, the concern will be for additional storm development this afternoon.

Unfortunately, the weather models have been putting on a horrendous performance and can be trusted very little. Yesterday was the biggest severe weather day of the year, with over 570 damaging wind reports across the Upper Great Lakes and Mid-Atlantic regions. For the most part, the models missed most of that activity.

This follows a trend I noticed in our last hot and stormy pattern in late June and early July, where the models would vastly underestimate storm organization and intensity.

As such, with several models showing scattered thunderstorms and one model developing a more impressive line of storms across our area, my concern is raised.

For this morning, most of the region should remain dry, though a few lingering showers from the west will be possible. As these head into the late morning hours in the eastern half of the region, I would not be surprised to see some localized redevelopment into a few small storm cells.

Any late morning shower activity may briefly hold temperatures back, but for the most part, temperatures will be pushing towards 90 degrees by the midday and early afternoon hours. Dewpoints will be in the low 70s, simultaneously pushing heat index values into hazardous territory and setting the stage for the potential afternoon storms.

If thunderstorms develop, they should quickly form a line over southern Canada and/or western New York during the mid afternoon hours. This line will quickly drop southeast through the Finger Lakes. In a worst case scenario, widespread damaging wind gusts and possibly a brief, isolated tornado will be possible.

With such high uncertainty, but recognizing the pattern for what it is, it is best to prepare as though a significant severe weather event will unfold this afternoon while hoping it doesn’t. Securing loose outdoor objects and having a plan in place to take severe thunderstorm warnings seriously are good first steps.

Obviously, I will be monitoring the situation closely and will share updates and possibly live blog as conditions warrant.

finger lakes weather 7-day forecast thursday august 12 2021
This graphic represents an average over the entire Finger Lakes region. Localized variations should be expected. Click to enlarge.

Cold Front Friday

Temperatures tomorrow will not be quite as high, with most areas in the mid 80s with pockets of upper 80s. It will remain very humid though, with dewpoints at or above 70.

Afternoon showers and storms will again be possible, though the chances for severe weather are not as great as today. Still, a few robust afternoon thunderstorms are not out of the question.

Showers and storms will increase Friday evening as a cold front moves into the area. Most of the night should have showers in the area, with a gradual decrease in activity as we approach dawn Saturday.

By Saturday morning, the front should be through most, if not all, the region. A few stray showers will linger early, followed by increasing sunshine and a steady northwesterly breeze. Temperatures should drop into the mid 60s early Saturday morning, with afternoon highs topping out in the mid 70s. Dewpoints will fall comfortably into the 50s by the afternoon.

Sunday will see winds turn more northerly, holding highs to the low 70s. Skies will be mixed with no precipitation expected. Monday will be similar, but milder as we lose the north winds. Highs will be in the upper 70s.

The middle of next week remains uncertain due to Tropical Storm Fred. Fred has emerged back over water after crossing the rugged terrain of Hispaniola. The mountains took their toll on Fred, and the storm is barely clinging onto remaining a tropical cyclone this morning.

Conditions over the next few days are not great for strengthening as Fred travels northeast towards southern Florida and the eastern Gulf of Mexico. Still, several models do have Fred with modest strengthening thereafter, followed by a path up the Appalachians and into the Northeastern US by the middle of the week.

Fred is expected to remain a small storm, so it would take a perfect alignment to bring rains for Fred into our region. That does remain a possibility, though. Stay tuned.

More Information:

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finger lakes weather 7-day forecast thursday august 12 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.