An area of high pressure over eastern Canada will supply cool but sunny conditions to the Finger Lakes today.
Temperatures this morning are sharply divided. Areas in the east, which saw clearing early yesterday evening and have a couple inches of snow on the ground, are starting out in the single digits. Just to the west, where the clearing took longer to arrive and little to no snow is on the ground, upper 10s and low 20s are common.
Sunshine and northwest winds will mix the atmosphere up into a more uniform temperature spread by this afternoon, though of course, there are always differences across our complex region.
Look for highs to range from the mid 30s in some of the broad river valleys of the Southern Tier and along the shores of the larger Finger Lakes, down to around 30 degrees in the hills of Central New York.
For the most part, skies will be sunny today. A few stray clouds may meander through from time to time, especially near Lake Ontario. Wind speeds will be around 5 mph.
Tonight, a subtle front will push southwestward from New England. This will lead to an increase in clouds and perhaps a few stray flurries. While the clouds are in place, temperatures will remain in the 20s. But, if there are any periods of clear skies before and after the front, 10s will be possible, especially in the areas with snow cover.
Winds will be from the north on Wednesday as high pressure continues to supply cool, dry air to the region. High temperatures will again reside in the 30-35 degree range.
A deck of clouds high in the atmosphere will attempt to push in from the southwest but will have some difficulty in doing so. Therefore, skies will be mixed throughout the day, with some periods favoring at least filtered sunshine, while others are cloudier. The further southwest, the higher the ratio of clouds to sun, while to the northeast, it will be more sun than clouds.
The clouds will eventually win out Wednesday night and will thicken as winds turn to the northeast. These are classic signals of an incoming weather system. Despite the clouds, the northeast winds will entrench cold air into the region with lows in the upper 10s and low 20s Thursday morning.
Thursday-Friday Details Emerging
As one strong low tracks into the Great Lakes and a second, slow-moving low develops along the East Coast, a prolonged period of wintry weather is possible across the Finger Lakes.
Precipitation will begin to move in from southwest to northeast on Thursday. The strong high over eastern Canada will do its best to block the precipitation but will not succeed. However, the high will continue to supply cold air to the region, keeping precipitation wintry.
By noon Thursday, the precipitation should be roughly halfway into the Finger Lakes. At first, much of what falls will be an icy mix of snow and freezing rain. During the afternoon, precipitation will spread to the rest of the Finger Lakes as it turns to snow.
The timing of the onset of precipitation is something that will likely need adjusting. If you have travel plans Thursday and are unsure what to do, I would opt to stay home for two reasons.
First, the precipitation will come down hard from the onset, and travel conditions will likely deteriorate quickly. Second, often times in these situations, the models are too slow with the onset of the precipitation, so it could very well start earlier than expected.
Snow will increase in intensity Thursday evening and continue through the night. Travel will be difficult.
I personally have travel plans and events Thursday both during the day and during the evening, and would much rather not miss out on either event. So, you can be assured that this forecast and advice comes with a large dose of personal impact and is not given lightly.
As the coastal low takes over on Friday, precipitation will continue, but will become more focused over the eastern portion of the region. It may snow steadily throughout the day in some areas, with several more inches of accumulation.
Snow totals are likely to be highly variable across the region, depending on both location and elevation. The highest amounts are likely to be in the hills of Chemung, Schuyler, Tompkins, Tioga, Cortland, and Onondaga counties. The lowest amounts will be in the far western Southern Tier and across the Lake Ontario lowlands.
The exact snow amounts are still uncertain and will depend on temperature profiles, the transition from ice to snow Thursday, and the path of the low on Friday and its associated precipitation shield. On a low end, totals may range from 2 to 6 inches. On a higher end, well over a foot may fall in select locations. The truth likely lies in the middle.
Unfortunately, the snow that falls will be very heavy and wet, making it difficult and hazardous to shovel.
Precipitation will taper off late Friday and transition to lake effect flurries. These will stick around into early next week.
Stay tuned for continuing updates as the details come into better focus over the next 48 hours.
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This graphic represents an average over the entire Finger Lakes region. Localized variations should be expected.