Cold air has begun to pour back into the Finger Lakes this morning as an arctic cold front sags south.
Dry air and a lack of upper atmosphere support have little to no precipitation along the front. However, temperatures dropping below freezing may lead to some slick sidewalks and untreated roads.
Temperatures early Friday morning were in the upper 20s to near 30 across the Finger Lakes. It will be a steady drop throughout the day and into the night, though. By 3 PM, temperatures in the teens will become widespread. After sunset, single digits will begin to appear.
Driving the temperatures down will be a stiff north wind, blowing with speeds of 10-15 mph and gusts as high as 30 mph.
Skies will remain mostly cloudy throughout the day and some light lake effect snow is possible, especially west of Seneca Lake. Accumulations should be under an inch.
The wind will shift ever so slightly to the northeast over Lake Ontario tonight, allowing for clear skies to move into the I-81 Corridor and mixed skies in Cayuga, Tompkins, and Tioga counties. The coldest temperatures tonight will set up in these areas as a result.
Most areas east of Cayuga Lake should drop at least a couple degrees below zero by Saturday morning. From Cortland to Syracuse, lows may get as frigid as -10 to -15. To the west of Cayuga Lake, many areas will be near or just above zero degrees with continued lake effect cloud cover.
Winds will decrease, but will still blow at up to 10 mph. West of Cayuga Lake, this will produce wind chills of -10 to -15. East of Cayuga Lake, wind chills will be -15 to -20, while the I-81 region in Onondaga and Cortland County will see wind chills of -20 to -30. Those two counties are under a Wind Chill Warning, while the rest of the region is under a lesser Wind Chill Advisory.
These wind chill alerts will not expire until Saturday afternoon with temperatures slow to warm Saturday morning. Afternoon highs Saturday will generally be between 5 and 10 degrees, but again, the I-81 region may only claw a couple degrees above zero.
Saturday will have some limited lake effect, mainly across Wayne and Monroe counties. A combination of lake effect clouds and some non-lake effect clouds will keep skies mostly cloudy throughout the area.
Sunday Night-Monday Winter Storm
Skies will clear Saturday night as high pressure moves through the region. Winds will be lighter, so wind chill will be less of a factor. However, the clear skies should still allow for pockets of frigid air.
Temperatures will likely vary widely, with mid single digits near the lakes ranging down to temperatures near -10 degrees in the hills south of Syracuse.
Winds will turn to the southeast during the predawn hours as the high slides into New England. Sun-filled skies will help temperatures warm steadily with highs ranging from the mid 20s to near 30 degrees.
Clouds from the approaching winter storm will move in late in the afternoon and snow will spread north into the region by the mid-evening hours.
At this point, there is no doubt that this winter storm will impact the Finger Lakes. The models continue to hone in on the details.
Two pieces of energy, one dropping south into North Dakota and the second over Nevada and Utah, will merge today over the Plains. This combined system will move into the Deep South and Carolinas, triggering a new low developing along the coast.
The high pressure system that will move through early Sunday will block the eastward progression of the low, causing it to track further inland through the Mid-Atlantic, Pennsylvania, and eastern New York.
This is a classic path for overhyped snow amounts in the Finger Lakes and a heavy snowfall over Western New York.
I expect a period of heavy snow overnight Sunday across the entire region. By Monday morning, sleet will mix in over the eastern half of the Finger Lakes while dry air also moves in and greatly reduces precipitation amounts. I would suspect that the precipitation will end for a time after sunrise Monday before lighter snow returns for the afternoon as the low pulls away.
The greatest snow amounts in our region will likely be in the Rochester area. For the southeastern half of the region, much lower snow amounts are likely.
Amounts will depend on the presence of sleet and whether the dry slot moves in and ends the precipitation early Monday morning. It is still a bit early to key in on those, but be very wary of calls for a foot or more, except for in the northwestern quadrant of the region.
Needless to say, I will continue to update the forecast through the weekend with the latest no-hype information you can trust.
Some lake effect snow will flare up southeast of Lake Ontario late Monday into early Tuesday. A weaker system will spread some light rain and snow showers in on Wednesday. More cold air and lake effect will follow late in the week.
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