A pair of weather systems over the Midwest and northern Gulf of Mexico will team up to bring the first winter weather event to the Finger Lakes tonight and early Wednesday.
As the low pressure system over the Midwest tracks east into the Great Lakes, the Gulf of Mexico low will track up the East Coast. Overnight, the two lows will interact with each other, resulting in snow and mixed precipitation across the Finger Lakes.
Before that, though, the daytime hours today will be dry. Clouds ahead of the systems will be plentiful. It will be a grey, quiet day with light southeast winds around 5 mph. Temperatures will remain cool, with highs mostly near or just below 40 degrees.
The first wave of snow will spread north early this evening. The snow should enter the Southern Tier sometime around 6 PM and reach I-90 by around 8 PM. For the first few hours, the snow will be on and off. A few brief heavier bursts may be possible, but most of the snow will be light.
Snow intensities will begin to increase around midnight as the two lows strengthen their interaction. A couple hours of heavy snow will follow, but by as early as 3 AM, rain and sleet will begin to mix in across the south.
Through the predawn and early morning hours, snow will continue to transition to mixed precipitation and plain rain from south to north. At the same time, the precipitation should become more showery as the steadiest precipitation lifts north.
This will not leave a whole lot of time for snow to accumulate, and most areas should see around an inch, maybe two. Typically warmer urban and near-lake areas may see little to no accumulation, while some higher elevations may be able to just exceed two inches.
Travel Wednesday morning will depend greatly on location, elevation, and time. The changeover from snow to ice, ice to rain, or snow right to rain, will vary even within a single zip-code and thus cannot be pinpointed accurately.
If your commute primarily occurs after sunrise, there may be some slick spots, but most roads will probably be in decent shape. Those out and about before the sun is up may encounter more difficulties, requiring a little due caution and extra time.
Because this is the first winter weather event of the season, it has gotten more buzz than it would perhaps get in the middle or end of winter. But it is by no means a major event, and many may be surprised at how little snow there is by tomorrow morning.
A small push of warmer air will move into the area tomorrow behind the early morning precipitation. High temperatures should make it into the mid 40s with west winds around 10 mph.
A few additional spits of rain will be possible throughout the day. Late, some lake effect will begin to organize off Lake Erie. This will spread some rain showers, turning to flurries during the evening, across the southern two-thirds of the region. A few additional showers and flurries off Lake Ontario will be possible right along the lake shore.
Lake effect, now all snow, will continue into Thursday. The snow will gradually taper off in the afternoon, with no more than a coating for most areas. Some of the hills in the western Southern Tier could pick up a couple of inches.
The west wind will be blustery on Thursday with speeds around 15 mph and gusts around 35 mph. Temperatures will be similar to today, with highs around or just under 40 degrees.
Cold southwest winds will take over Thursday night and persist through Friday and the weekend. Morning lows Friday will be down into the 20s throughout the region, and afternoon highs will top out in the mid 30s.
Some stray snow showers will be possible in parts of the Finger Lakes, but with little to no accumulation. Heavy snow will develop across far western New York, including the Buffalo area. Travel along I-90 west of about Batavia will become very difficult through the weekend as the lake effect persists with accumulations measured in feet, not inches.
But here in the Finger Lakes, the lake effect will mostly remain a non-factor. In fact, Saturday should have some sunshine mixing with clouds. Any clearing of the skies will send nighttime temperatures in the 15-25 degree range, while daytime highs are expected to remain in the mid 30s.
Warmer air will be possible late next week as a stronger weather system makes its way into our region.
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