Calm Before the Storm
High pressure has built into the Finger Lakes and will bring 36 hours of quiet weather before one of the higher impact winter weather events of the season unfolds.
Sunshine will mix with thin clouds today and early Friday before clouds thicken and increase by Friday afternoon. Light winds will also be in place, with wind speeds under 5 mph today, tonight, and early Friday.
The strength of the March sun and lack of an appreciable northerly flow will allow temperatures today to bounce upward. Highs today will mostly be in the mid 40s, though some upper 40s from Elmira to Binghamton and possibly as far north as Ithaca will be possible.
Friday will be similarly warm, with widespread mid 40s and a few warmer pockets possible. Overnight lows tonight will be in the mid and upper 20s.
A cold front will move into the area Friday evening, possibly with a few rain showers early on before snow spreads across the area. Most of the snow should be light through midnight as it becomes widespread throughout the region.
Early Storm Details
After midnight, snow rates will increase as low pressure begins to move north through the Carolinas and into the Mid-Atlantic. The heaviest snow seems most likely over the southeastern half of the region, including Elmira, Ithaca, Cortland, and Syracuse. Moderate snow accumulations are likely by dawn with localized snowfall rates of an inch per hour.
Snow will diminish Saturday morning in the northwestern half of the region but continue to fall heavily in the southeast. The snow will then taper off during the afternoon and should mostly end by sunset.
Early snowfall projections show a moderate to high chance for double-digit snow amounts over the southeastern Finger Lakes. The greatest snow totals will likely end up east of the Finger Lakes region.
I am using vague terms like “southeast” and “northwest” purposefully, as the exact details are not yet clear, and there are rarely definitive lines in nature, but rather gradients that demand less specific labels, especially this far out.
Northwest winds will increase Saturday morning with frequent gusts over 40 mph through the afternoon. Temperatures will be falling through the 20s and into the 10s, meaning a fluffy, dry snow is likely to fall. The wind will have no trouble blowing this around, creating very low visibility and significant snowdrifts. Isolated power outages may also be possible.
Because of the wind and cold, even areas that see lower snow totals will see a high impact from this event. Travel Saturday anywhere in the region should be avoided.
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Behind the Storm
Winds will gradually drop Saturday night but may still be strong enough to cause some blowing and drifting snow into Sunday.
Sunday will have some scattered snow showers, early on from lake effect and in the afternoon from a weak piece of atmospheric energy passing through. Morning temperatures will be between 5-15 degrees, with afternoon highs of 25-30 degrees.
Winds will turn to the south late Sunday and will persist for much of the upcoming week. This will quickly leave the wintry weather behind and give us a further taste of Spring.
High temperatures on Monday should return to the mid and upper 40s. Tuesday will be in the upper 40s and low 50s. Wednesday will be similar, but Thursday should at least push towards 60 degrees, if not easily exceed it. Temperatures should remain at least in the 50s into next weekend as well.
With the sustained warmth coming on the backside of the heavy snow, snowmelt should be significant. Thankfully, flooding will not be an issue thanks to a quiet weather pattern. Outside of a few minor rain showers Tuesday, the rest of the week looks dry and quiet.
Mild weather should remain into the following week as well, though it may not be quite as warm as next week.
This graphic represents an average over the entire Finger Lakes region. Localized variations should be expected.
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