The next two days will be the proverbial climbing of the first hill on a roller-coaster ride of temperature fluctuations over the coming week.
It is a chilly morning across the Finger Lakes thanks to areas of clearing overnight. Most areas are starting out today between five and fifteen degrees. There may be a stray flurry or two about, but much of the region has clear skies or a mix of sun and clouds.
West winds are bringing the bits of snow and cloud cover eastward off Lake Erie. Those winds will gradually turn more to the southwest over the course of the morning and early afternoon. Wind speeds will briefly increase to around 10 mph during the midday hours before weakening.
As the winds turn, the lake effect will lift northward and exit the region. By the late afternoon, sunshine should dominate the area, with just a few lingering clouds near Lake Ontario or in the far northwestern areas, such as Geneseo.
Temperatures will climb steadily but will not get too warm today. Most areas will be slightly below average for the first day of February with highs ranging through the 20s, but mostly sticking close to twenty-five degrees.
Skies will remain clear to start this evening, but some cloudiness will pass through during the late evening and overnight. Winds will stick to a southwest direction, but will slowly shift increasingly towards the south.
As such, temperatures will initially drop quickly after sunset, but will then stall out in the mid and upper 10s. A few places may even rise back to around twenty degrees by sunrise.
Thursday will likely have more clouds than today, but should still also have a fair bit of sunshine. The sun will especially be likely during the later morning and first half of the afternoon. Some southern portions of the region may hold on to sunny skies until sunset.
Southwest winds, with speeds near or just over 10 mph, will contribute to the sunshine in warming temperatures. Look for highs mostly in the mid 30s with evening temperatures dropping to the upper 20s and low 30s.
The Ride Begins
A powerful cold front will drop south across the region Thursday evening. A narrow but intense snow squall is likely with the front.
The squall will be strongest as it first comes off Lake Ontario in the 8-10 PM time frame. It will gradually weaken as it heads south over the next 2-3 hours, but even the Southern Tier will see a quick burst of snow.
Those with travel plans Thursday evening will need to be prepared for a sudden and significant onset of heavy snow, wind, and low visibility. Snow squall warnings may be needed.
Strong northwest winds will set up immediately behind the front with gusts of 30-40 mph Thursday night, and as high as 45 mph during the day Friday.
Cold air will flood the region on these winds. By Friday morning, most areas will be in the single-digits with very little if any upward movement during the day Friday. As such, wind chill values will be at or below -10 degrees throughout the daytime hours Friday.
Areas of lake effect snow will also be possible on Friday, especially in the northeastern quadrant of the region typically favored for lake effect on northwest winds. Locally several inches will be possible, but the strong winds and frigid temperatures will work against snowflake growth and band organization.
The lake effect will gradually diminish Friday night and should be reduced to some flurries along the Lake Ontario shoreline Saturday morning. Skies should remain cloudy overnight, keeping temperatures near or slightly below zero. Should any areas clear out, though, temperatures could be much colder.
Hazardous wind chills will develop Friday night. Cortland and Onondaga counties are already under a Wind Chill Watch for wind chills below -30. Additional wind chill alerts — advisories and warnings — will be issued at a later time.
Saturday will be a mostly cloudy day with winds turning to the southwest, then south. Afternoon temperatures will rise into the low and mid 20s, and then evening temperatures will push further into the 20s to near 30 by sunrise.
The wind may become strong Saturday night into Sunday morning, especially across the western half of the region, which is more susceptible to strong southwest winds. Warm air will continue to race in with highs Sunday afternoon well into the 40s, a mere thirty hours after bottoming out Saturday morning below zero.
A weak system may knock temperatures back to near 30 for Monday with some flurries. Tuesday will bounce back to the 40s, with mild weather persisting for the remainder of the week, next weekend, and likely into the middle of February.
This graphic represents an average over the entire Finger Lakes region. Localized variations should be expected.
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