The Finger Lakes region is finding itself in an active, slightly more wintry weather pattern that shows no signs of slowing down.
For today, wintry weather will be at a minimum. Temperatures are starting the day well above freezing and will not move much throughout the day. Most places will stay above 35 degrees, and a few will be around 40 for much of the time.
With the mild temperatures, most of what falls today will be rain. There will not be a lot of precipitation, but persistent drizzle and light rain showers will be possible. Over higher elevations, snow will mix in and eventually become dominant through the second half of the day. Little to no snow accumulation is expected.
Drizzle, showers, and flurries will continue into the evening hours before gradually tapering off by midnight. Skies will remain cloudy through the overnight as the next weather system quickly approaches.
Temperatures should reach or fall below the freezing mark for most, if not all the region early Thursday. A band of precipitation will move in from the southwest as warmer air makes another push northward.
A few areas may start off with some rain early Thursday, but an icy mix is more likely for most areas. Throughout the morning, the icy mix will transition to rain, but some colder pockets may hold on to the ice into the midday hours. This is most likely across Cortland County, but pockets of ice will be possible throughout the region.
This precipitation will be heavier and longer lasting than the wintry mix on Tuesday morning, so the potential for icy roads and hazardous travel conditions is higher.
However, there is some uncertainty, and with temperatures right on the edge between being below and above freezing, there is at least a chance for a quicker changeover to rain.
It is best to plan for icy conditions Thursday morning. Delaying travel plans until the afternoon is not unreasonable, but if you must travel in the morning, stick to the main roads, which will be well treated and well traveled, keeping the ice limited.
The precipitation will move from southwest to northeast across the region between 6-9 AM. It should reach Dansville, Bath, Corning, and Elmira somewhere around 7 AM. By 8 AM, expect the leading edge to be roughly from Rochester to Geneva to Ithaca to Binghamton. And by 9 AM, the precipitation should approach Syracuse. These times, of course, are estimates and subject to variation.
As temperatures warm into the mid 30s during the afternoon and possibly upper 30s overnight, rain will become the only precipitation type. Steady rain will fall during the afternoon, tapering to showers by sunset. The evening looks mostly dry before more rain moves in after midnight.
Several Chances for Snow
Some rain may hold on into early Friday morning, but precipitation should change over to snow before too long.
Surface temperatures will not move much during the day, though, mostly sticking to the mid 30s. With temperatures above freezing, road conditions should remain mostly wet, and accumulations will be limited to grassy surfaces and higher elevations. Some areas may see snow throughout the day but with very little sticking. Other areas may see a slushy inch or two.
Winds Friday will be a bit blustery, coming in from the west. Gusts around 35 mph will be possible west of a Rochester-Penn Yan-Elmira line, with 25-30 mph gusts to the east.
Widespread light snow will transition to areas of light lake effect snow Friday night. Lake flurries will persist into Saturday before gradually diminishing as winds turn from the northwest to the southwest.
High temperatures Saturday will be in the low 30s with nighttime temperatures dropping to the mid 20s. New clouds will quickly build in, leaving little to no time for clearing skies.
Most of Sunday looks dry, but I am paying close attention to the potential for a coastal system to impact the area late in the day. There is potential for heavy snow through the night and for much of Monday, but there is still a great deal of uncertainty.
Currently, there is about a 50-50 chance for significant snow from this system somewhere in the Finger Lakes, as indicated on the new medium-range snow outlook graphic.
Tuesday should be a quiet day, but another weather system will be possible as soon as Wednesday.
Temperatures may start a slow decline after that, with at least a chance for below average temperatures as we head into the close of January and start of February.
This graphic represents an average over the entire Finger Lakes region. Localized variations should be expected.
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