A small area of high pressure is sliding through the Finger Lakes today.
For the most part, this high pressure has disrupted the lake effect snow showers that have been around the region for several days. There are still a few stray flakes about this morning, but they will gradually diminish completely.
Clouds, however, will remain plentiful, thanks to low-level moisture trapped beneath the high and aided by a continued northwest flow off of the Great Lakes.
A few breaks of sun may start to show up in the latter half of the afternoon, and tonight, there will be a gradual dissipation of the cloud cover. Skies will remain partly cloudy much of the time, but periods of clear, starlit skies are expected to mix in.
Winds will be lighter today, blowing at around 5 mph until becoming calm late in the day. This evening, the wind will pick back up, but from the south, staying around 5 mph.
Temperatures this afternoon will top out in just the upper 20s and low 30s. Elevation and snow cover will play a role in temperatures tonight, with pockets across the eastern Southern Tier and Central New York dropping into the single digits. Most other areas will range through the 10s and low 20s.
Wednesday will have nearly calm winds with a mix of sun and clouds. Some of the day may end up quite sunny before a deck of overcast builds in late in the day. Temperatures will get a small bump upwards with highs in the mid 30s.
Clouds will increase and thicken Wednesday night ahead of a strong weather system that will be moving into the Great Lakes. No precipitation is expected Wednesday night. Southeast winds will increase up to 10 mph, helping hold temperatures in the low and mid 20s overnight.
Strong Weather System
An intense low pressure system will move into Michigan on Thursday. Out ahead of this system, warm air will push northward.
Ahead of and along the warm front, precipitation will break out across the Finger Lakes. This is likely to occur sometime later Thursday morning or early in the afternoon. At first, the precipitation will be a mix of rain and higher elevation snow.
With temperatures in the mid 30s and rising, even areas that see snow at first will see little to no accumulation and mainly wet roads.
Precipitation will taper off by the evening as it transitions to rain everywhere. On and off showers are likely and winds will start to increase. Winds Thursday night will be 15-20 mph with gusts of 40-50 mph possible. The strongest winds will be over the eastern half of the region.
Temperatures will continue to rise Thursday night and should make it into the upper 40s by early Friday. The wind should decrease some after sunrise as they shift to the south. Precipitation will also increase Friday morning as a cold front approaches.
The cold front will be powerful, with temperatures tumbling from the upper 40s into the 20s within an hour or two, and then dropping further Friday afternoon. Rain will turn over to a brief but heavy period of snow, and flash freeze conditions are possible.
The snow will only fall for an hour or two, limiting accumulations to a general 1-3 inches. Southwest will pick up immediately behind the front with speeds of 15-20 mph and gusts of 35-45 mph. Locally stronger gusts are likely along and west of I-390, especially Friday evening.
Lake effect snow will quickly develop in the cold air, but will primarily be focused outside of the Finger Lakes region.
By Saturday morning, temperatures will be widespread in the single digits and low 10s. High temperatures will probably not even reach 20 degrees. Blustery southwest winds will persist, producing wind chill values below zero throughout the day.
Snow showers will be possible, even though the organized, heavy lake effect will be elsewhere. Locally, a few inches may of snow may occur, mostly over the eastern Finger Lakes. Anything that falls will be very fluffy, and the blustery winds will cause reduced visibility and snow drifts.
Winds will turn to the west for Christmas Day on Sunday, leading to an increase in snow showers throughout the Finger Lakes. Wind gusts over 30 mph will remain possible, leading to more blowing and drifting snow. Again, some areas could see a couple inches of accumulation. Temperatures Christmas morning will average out around 10 degrees and afternoon highs will be in the low 20s.
Winds will turn to the south on Monday, ending the lake effect snow. Clouds will remain plentiful, though, with highs making it to the mid 20s. Some snow showers will be possible for the middle of next week as temperatures moderate more on Tuesday, only to fall again by Wednesday.
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This graphic represents an average over the entire Finger Lakes region. Localized variations should be expected.
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Always enjoyable photography accompanying your posts, but especially so today by Helen Heizyk. The colors are a beautiful blend.
We are trying to drive 12 hours South–departing sometime on Friday or Saturday–usually we do this as a 2 day trip–driving from Ithaca to pick up 86 W–then taking 15S to pick up 81 in Harrisburg PA–all the Way to Asheville NC –usually with an over-night stop somewhere in Virginia, and then onto my parent’s house in Asheville the next day. Is there a window of time on either Friday or Saturday where it will be safest to attempt this trip? If conditions are terrible, we may need to wait, but this is my mom’s last Christmas (she has advanced cancer) and I’d really like to get her out of nursing home she’s been temporarily in all week and home with my dad for Christmas if possible….
thanks for any advice!
Meteorologist Drew Montreuil
Hi Kristen. I am very sorry to hear about your mother. You should be able to make this trip without too many problems. The timing of the cold front on Friday is the biggest question, but current projections have it through the area by the early afternoon. The snow associated with the front should be brief, leaving most of the afternoon open to precipitation-free conditions. The front will be moving in from the southwest, so it will clear out of northern PA even sooner, with dry conditions thereafter. Likewise, Saturday does not have any precipitation from PA through NC. So, stay tuned for fine tuning on when conditions improve Friday, and you should be good to go. Feel free to post your question again over the next few days for direct updates!
I’m planning a similar trip Friday (NY to NC), so I’ll be following your thoughts on this! Thanks, Drew.