Temperatures bottom out tonight, moderate some this weekend

finger lakes weather forecast
Widespread sub-zero temperatures are likely tonight with some cold pockets getting as low as -20 degrees. [Photo by Pete Smith]

Cold Canadian High Pressure

An area of high pressure centered over the St. Lawrence Valley in northern New York will bring the coldest air yet into our region tonight.

Temperatures in the Adirondacks and North Country this morning range between -20 and -35 degrees beneath this high pressure system. Here in the Finger Lakes, most areas are near or above zero thanks to some lake effect cloud cover. There are a few pockets where skies have been clear where temperatures are at or below -10.

The high pressure will only drift eastward a little today and tonight, ending up over Vermont and New Hampshire by Saturday morning.

The eastward drift will allow winds over Lake Ontario to pivot, resulting in a westward movement to the lake effect clouds and any lingering flurries that exist. Sunshine will increase from the east and south with clouds lingering longest in the Rochester area.

Temperatures will manage to get into the low teens today, but reaching 15 degrees seems like too tall of an order. Clear skies, nearly calm winds, and an extremely dry airmass will all make for efficient cooling once the sun sets.

By Saturday morning, all but a few lakeshore locations should be below zero with many areas between -5 and -15 degrees. There will likely be pockets of cold where temperatures reach -20 degrees. Even with this extreme cold, it may be hard to break record lows. The Cornell climate stations outside Ithaca and Geneva have record lows of -23 (1982) and -16 (2005) respectively. Interestingly, though, that -16 represents the all-time record low for Geneva (records dating back to 1969), while Ithaca’s -23 is also close to its all-time record low of -25 (records going back to 1893).

A light southeast wind will pick up after midnight with speeds up to 5 mph. These winds will turn to the south during the day Saturday. Sunshine will be plentiful through the morning before some thin clouds build in during the afternoon.

Given how cold it will be to start, afternoon highs will represent a significant amount of warming as temperatures poke into the low 20s.

finger lakes weather 7-day forecast friday janaury 21 2022
This graphic represents an average over the entire Finger Lakes region. Localized variations should be expected. Click to enlarge.

Staying Cold

A weak weather system will swing through Saturday night with a few flurries. Lake effect will kick up behind this system Sunday morning.

At first, snow in the Finger Lakes will come from Lake Erie with winds coming in from the west. These should mostly be light and scattered snow showers, but some steadier, higher intensity snow is possible, especially in the west.

By the afternoon, winds will turn to the northwest and the Lake Ontario band will drop south into the northern Finger Lakes. Some squally conditions near and north of I-90 may be possible as this happens before lighter snow showers take over.

Temperatures Sunday will be much warmer to start, with a close to average low in the mid teens. Afternoon highs will again top out in the low 20s.

Snow showers will linger through Sunday night, but by Monday, winds will turn to the south and the lake effect will move out and dissipate.

Some subzero temperatures will again be possible Monday morning, especially in the lake effect dissipates quickly overnight. The south winds will help temperatures push into the mid 20s during the afternoon. Temperatures should then remain more or less steady through Monday night and Tuesday.

During this time, some widespread light snow will move in late Monday afternoon, through the night, and into early Tuesday.

Behind this system, another shot of arctic cold will move in. Temperatures will be near zero Wednesday morning with highs possibly not reaching 10 degrees. While uncertain conditions could line up for another bitter night Wednesday night.

There continue to be signs of moderating temperatures starting next weekend and continuing into early February. This does not look to be a warm pattern, but rather a pattern closer to the climatological average, where it is chilly but with lower chances for sub-zero nighttime temperatures.

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finger lakes weather 7-day forecast friday janaury 21 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.