Uncertainty remains with the afternoon thunderstorm risk

finger lakes weather forecast thursday june 16 2022 showers thunderstorms severe weather
If thunderstorms can overcome limitations in the atmosphere this afternoon, a significant severe weather event is possible. [Photo by Joan Lockwood]

Severe Storms Possible, but Uncertain

After an impressive light show last night from a complex of thunderstorms, additional strong to severe thunderstorms will be possible this afternoon.

However, as is often the case, there are many factors in play that could enhance or decrease the risk, depending on the interaction of these factors and how they fit into the overall picture.

It is a bit like putting together a jigsaw puzzle with no edges and the pieces flipped face down.

Some models have significantly backed off on the thunderstorm development over our area. This is due to several more technical factors that boil down to lacking widespread instability to fuel continued thunderstorm development and strengthening.

The Storm Prediction Center has the Finger Lakes region in a Level 3 – Enhanced risk zone. This designation is driven by a 30% chance of damaging winds within 25 miles of any given point within the risk area. Logically, this also means that there is a 70% chance of no damaging winds within the same 25 mile area.

All of this is to say that the bust potential is significant. Yet, preparation is always the key to being ready, so let’s now talk about the other side of the coin.

Other models think these limitations can be overcome and that thunderstorms will initiate, strengthen, and organize.

If this occurs, storms will initiate as individual cells over western New York and move into the Finger Lakes region. As long as storm cells remain discrete individuals, large hail and tornadoes will be a risk, in addition to damaging winds.

When and if storms begin to coalesce into line segments or a long-spanning single line, damaging winds will take over as the primary threat.

If you take a worst-case scenario approach, one could expect corridors of damaging winds, several instances of possibly very large hail, and a tornado or two. Even in this case, many areas would be spared of severe weather, though widespread impressive lightning displays that rival what moved through overnight would be possible.

The timing of these storms seems to be in the 3-7 PM timeframe. There are hints of multiple rounds of showers and storms.

I will obviously be monitoring conditions very closely this afternoon and will post updates as is prudent. If a widespread event becomes more evident, I will start a live blog. But, if a non-event becomes clear, I will probably only need to post a single additional update.

finger lakes weather 7-day forecast thursday june 16 2022
This graphic represents an average over the entire Finger Lakes region. Localized variations should be expected. Click to enlarge.

Outside of the Storms

Before the storms potentially move in this afternoon, skies will be a mix of clouds and sun. Breezy south winds will blow, sending temperatures into the 80s to near 90 and dewpoints into the 65 to 70 degree range.

Behind any storms, skies will clear out this evening, but it will remain warm and muggy. Overnight lows of 65 to 70 degrees are likely. Clouds will increase after midnight and a few showers will be possible. This will continue into the daytime hours Friday, with most of the time being dry, but a few showers remaining possible.

High temperatures on Friday will reach the upper 70s with a few places hitting 80 degrees. Blustery northwest winds will blow with gusts around 30 mph.

Cooler air will move in Friday night with lows around 50. Clouds will linger through Saturday morning, only gradually breaking up for the afternoon. Highs will mainly be between 60-65 degrees, though some parts of Cortland County may not escape the 50s. Blustery northwest winds will remain.

Sunday will turn sunny and clear but will remain on the cool side with highs in the mid and maybe upper 60s. Monday is looking dry and a touch warmer with highs around 70.

By the time we get to next Tuesday and Wednesday, the weather is impossibly uncertain. Another heat dome will set up to the west with thunderstorm complexes riding along the periphery. The models are inconsistent in showing where we are in relation to these features.

We could end up in the heat and humidity, or in the path of the thunderstorm complexes, or in a chilly, stable airmass influenced by the storm complexes staying just to our west. It is simply too early to have any confidence whatsoever.

Stay tuned.

More Information:

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finger lakes weather 7-day forecast thursday june 16 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.