Early Week Weather
Low pressure remains off the coast of Maine this morning while high pressure expands across the Midwest and Southeastern United States.
For about the next 24 hours, this setup will continue to produce some lake effect snow off of the lower Great Lakes.
A well-organized band is coming off Lake Ontario well north of the Finger Lakes, while Lake Erie is spraying our region with intermittent, mainly light snow showers.
The trend this morning will be for diminishing snow showers, though a few stray flurries will be possible at any point. Skies will also remain cloudy throughout the day, with only a brief, stray peek of sunshine here or there.
During the second half of the afternoon, winds will start to turn from the west-northwest to the northwest. This will cause the Lake Ontario band to drop south, and it may begin to enter the far northeastern reaches of the region during the mid to late afternoon.
The band will continue to drop south this evening, losing its organization and possibly breaking into multiple smaller streamers for a time. Localized accumulations of two or three inches may be possible, especially across Cayuga, Cortland, and Onondaga counties.
The lake snows will dissipate again tomorrow morning. Skies will again remain cloudy on Tuesday.
Temperatures both today and Tuesday will mainly be in the low 30s. Some of the typically warmer areas may reach the mid 30s, while higher elevations stick to the upper 20s. Overnight lows will range from the 10s in areas without lake effect to the mid 20s where it is snowy.
The wind today will also be a bit blustery for a time, with speeds over 10 mph and gusts approaching 30 mph. Some minor blowing and drifting of any snow that fell yesterday or last night will be possible, but any snow that fell Friday has long since frozen into a hard layer that will be unaffected by the winds.
Any clearing Tuesday night could lead to pockets of single-digit temperatures while other areas range through the 10s and low 20s.
The best chance for some sun will come on Wednesday, though it will still be mixed with clouds. Clouds will eventually win out as a thickening layer of overcast builds in late in the day. Highs will be in the mid 30s.
Separating Truth from Hype Late This Week
Last Friday, I cautioned about hype building over the weekend regarding the weather late this week. And indeed, I’ve heard terms like “historic snowfall” thrown about with abandon.
As I also said on Friday, there were a few models showing some extreme possibilities. However, the idea of several feet of snow falling has all but disappeared, which is not in the least bit surprising.
When projecting the weather out more than 5-7 days, computer models can be prone to feedback looks that create intense, or in this case, “historic” output. As the event in question draws near, the “edge” gets taken off and a more realistic scenario is presented.
That is not to say that the weather will be a quiet Christmas lamb late this week. No, there is still plenty to talk about and monitor, and the temperatures at least may lead us on a bit of a roller-coaster. But a crippling snowstorm does not look to be in the works.
The weather will start to act up on Thursday as a strong low pressure system builds into the Great Lakes. This will push a warm front into the area with an initial batch of precipitation, which could be heavy.
Precipitation type is questionable and some of the precipitation may start out as snow. The earlier it arrives on Thursday, the more likely snow will become. Over time, though, the snow should transition to rain as temperatures climb through the 30s.
The main questions for Thursday will be timing the precipitation and its changeover, and how this may impact the morning commute. Those are details that are not yet able to be fully worked out.
Temperatures will continue to rise Thursday night and could push towards 50 degrees by Friday morning. Winds will increase from the southwest and become strong with on-and-off rain showers likely.
Sometime on Friday, an intense cold front should push through the region. Temperatures will nosedive, with an almost instant drop into the 30s and a rapid fall thereafter through the 20s and possibly into the 10s.
Rain will turn to snow with flash freeze conditions possible. Accumulations of a few inches look possible, but the precipitation will probably not be too long-lasting, as is often the case behind a cold front.
Winds will continue to be strong into Saturday and possibly Sunday. By far the coldest air yet this season will build in, with highs Saturday possibly not even reaching 20 degrees. Lake snows will be around, but the location and intensity are too uncertain this far out.
There is still uncertainty with the evolution of this system and shifts in the details could alter the expectations. However, the current state of affairs with the models points away from a major snow event and more towards a warm front-cold front situation with wide fluctuations in temperatures accompanied by plenty of wind. Stay tuned.
This graphic represents an average over the entire Finger Lakes region. Localized variations should be expected.
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