Milder mid-week before snow and cold return

finger lakes weather forecast tuesday janaury 4 2022 sun clouds mild cold front lake effect snow
Temperatures will peak on Wednesday with low and mid 40s, but by Friday, highs will again struggle to reach 20 degrees with at least some snow likely. [Photo by Gwen Moshier]

High Pressure, Cold Front

It will be a quiet day across the Finger Lakes with high pressure over the Mid-Atlantic in firm control of our weather.

There are some lake enhanced clouds off Lake Erie that will linger across the northern two-thirds of the Finger Lakes this morning. Where the clouds have been in place the longest overnight and are the thickest, temperatures are starting out in the 20s.

Across the Southern Tier, where skies are clear, and into Central New York, temperatures are starting out in the teens.

With the center of high pressure to our southeast, and with a developing low over the Dakotas and Minnesota, a broad southerly flow of air is setting up across the Great Lakes region, including here in the Finger Lakes.

Southwest winds will become more southerly as the day goes on today with light speeds under 10 mph. Skies will become sunny, though some occasional clouds will continue to mix in. Most of the area should see afternoon highs in the upper 30s to near 40 degrees.

Clouds will become thicker overnight while south winds increase. Wind gusts of 25-35 mph will be common, with the highest gusts over the higher elevations south of Syracuse and Canandaigua.

The clouds and winds will hold temperatures steady through the evening and overnight, with mid and upper 20s across roughly the southern half of the region and low 30s to the north.

Clouds will remain in place for much of Wednesday, but a little sunshine may poke out during the afternoon hours. South winds will continue with little change in strength.

Temperatures should push into the low and mid 40s throughout the area Wednesday afternoon. A cold front will then push into the area Wednesday evening. The front may send several squalls through the Finger Lakes Wednesday evening. Accumulations will be low, but brief periods of hazardous travel conditions will be possible. More on this potential tomorrow morning.

finger lakes weather 7-day forecast tuesday january 4 2022
This graphic represents an average over the entire Finger Lakes region. Localized variations should be expected. Click to enlarge.

Sloppy Late Week and Weekend Weather

Some intense lake effect snow will develop off Lake Erie late Wednesday night and into Thursday. Some of this snow may make it into Batavia and Rochester but will generally stay west of the Finger Lakes.

Instead, Thursday will be a quiet and mostly cloudy day locally. Temperatures will be typical for January, with highs in the low and mid 30s.

Winds will turn more westerly late, possibly bringing the lake effect band into the northern half of the region. Meanwhile, low pressure to the south will start to spread snow into the southern half of the region Thursday evening.

The models are further south with the snow than they were yesterday at this time, bringing mainly light snow overnight followed by lake effect Friday. This scenario of a couple of inches Thursday night, scattered lake snows Friday, and some blustery winds to cause blowing snow should be considered the base, minimum scenario.

I actually expected the models to take this southward jog, as they almost always do in the 3-4 day window before a weather event like this. I, therefore, have strong suspicions that the actual storm track will be further north, with a gradual trending of the model coming back north starting with the runs later today or tomorrow.

If this does happen, then the potential for several inches of snow Thursday night and Friday will increase. I do not expect a blockbuster event in our region and think that, even in the snowiest scenario, double-digit snow amounts would be hard to come by. Those will be reserved for New England once the coastal low strengthens.

In conclusion, we are in the window of high uncertainty right now if strictly looking at the run-to-run model output. When considering the typical behavior of these models, it is reasonable to have a healthy skepticism that they are currently underestimating the snow on the northern edge of this system, including in the Finger Lakes.

At a minimum, if the models do not shift back to the north, Friday will have some snowy travel thanks to lake effect and blowing snow. At a maximum, a moderate snowfall with difficult travel conditions will be possible. Monitoring the trends in the models more than the specific model output itself over the next 12-36 hours is key, with a final resolution of the expectations coming thereafter.

Regardless of the specifics, Friday will see a return to cold temperatures in the upper teens and low 20s. Lake effect behind the system will wind down Friday night and Saturday will be a partly cloudy day with highs in the upper 20s.

Another system will move in on Sunday, probably with a mixed bag of precipitation. A question to consider will be how much, if any, ice results.

Temperatures will get knocked down again behind this system with highs Monday struggling to reach 20. Lake snows will get going southeast of Lake Ontario with some heavy snowfall possible.

The core of the cold will move through early Tuesday before the rest of next week settles in a typical January range of 25-35 degrees for daytime highs.

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finger lakes weather 7-day forecast tuesday january 4 2022
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.