Unsettled early week, monitoring mid-week ice potential

finger lakes weather forecast monday february 20 2023 rain showers wednesday ice thursday ice
A few spits of rain today will be followed by more widespread showers Tuesday and a period of icy weather late Wednesday into early Thursday. [Photo by Gwen Moshier]

Monday-Tuesday Showers

A pair of weak weather systems will move through the Finger Lakes Monday and Tuesday before a stronger system impacts the area late Wednesday into Thursday.

The weather today will be dictated by the tail end of a cold front moving through eastern Canada. Clouds are widespread throughout the area this morning ahead of the front, though the radar is mostly clear so far.

There should not be much change through the morning, with temperatures rising a few degrees to the mid 40s, thanks to south and southwest winds. Those winds will turn to the northwest this afternoon as the front moves through.

Morning winds will be light, but the afternoon winds will increase to around 10 mph with gusts around 25 mph.

The chances for rain today will be small and many areas will see little to no precipitation. The clouds may even thin a bit at times, allowing for some limited peeks of sunlight.

Temperatures will drop back into the mid and upper 20s tonight with a chance for a stray flurry here or there. Winds overnight will decrease in speed and rotate clockwise, ending up coming from the southeast by sunrise Tuesday.

Precipitation is more likely on Tuesday, with an area of widespread showers likely in the midday and early afternoon. This will fall as rain, but a few snowflakes could mix in just before it ends over some higher terrain.

Winds will be from the south ahead of the rain, increasing through the morning to near 10 mph. As this system’s cold front moves through, winds will turn to the southwest and west and increase further. Wind speeds of 15 mph or greater will be possible.

Wind gusts will be strongest west of Seneca Lake, clocking in at 40-45 mph. East of Seneca Lake, gusts will be in the 25-35 mph range.

Temperatures on Tuesday will again peak in the mid 40s during the early afternoon before dropping into the 30s prior to sunset. Tuesday night will be quiet with lows dropping back to the mid 20s.

finger lakes weather medium range snow outlook monday february 20 2023 see blog text for pertinent information
There will be some chances for mainly light snow accumulations later this week and through the weekend. Thursday has low chances for snow, but high chances for morning ice. Click to enlarge.

Ice, Snow, Wind

A large and powerful storm complex will impact much of the northern United States and southern Canada, coast to coast, during the middle of the week. The models have been rather consistent with the storm track, but there are still plenty of fine details that are highly uncertain for our weather in the Finger Lakes.

Most of Wednesday will be a quiet day, but precipitation will start to move in from the south during the evening hours.

High pressure north of the region will hold fast with a steady supply of cold air, combating the influx of warmer air from the south out ahead of the low pressure system.

As precipitation intensifies Wednesday night, so too will the temperature gradient near our region. However, throughout the night, temperatures should remain near or below freezing at the surface.

Precipitation type is a major question, though the two primary candidates are either sleet or freezing rain. As a refresher, sleet falls as ice pellets, while freezing rain falls as liquid rain, but then freezes on contact with the ground and other surfaces.

While both types of icy precipitation produce hazardous travel conditions, significant freezing rain coats tree limbs and power lines, and can bring them down with the weight of the ice.

With the complex geography of our region, it is highly likely that there will be wide variations in precipitation types and amounts of ice. Regardless, travel conditions will deteriorate quickly Wednesday evening and will remain hazardous into Thursday morning.

The precipitation should taper off and mostly turn to non-freezing rain during the day Thursday. Some far northern areas may stay below freezing, while parts of the Southern Tier may warm well above 40 degrees. How this sharp boundary sets up also remains uncertain.

finger lakes weather 7-day forecast mon feb 20 | mon, cloudy a few showers mid 40 | tues, windy rain showers mid 40 | wed, evening icy mix mid 30 | thur, morning icy mix near 40 | fri, windy lake snows upper 10 | sat, some late snow? near 30 | sun, snow and wind? upper 30
This graphic represents an average over the entire Finger Lakes region. Localized variations should be expected. Click to enlarge.

Cold air will move back in on Friday, accompanied by blustery winds and areas of lake effect snow. Several inches of snow may fall in localized pockets. Winds gusting between 25-35 mph could cause power outages if trees are still coated in ice. Thankfully, the strongest winds look to be over the southern parts of the area, which are more likely to see temperatures well above freezing Thursday afternoon.

Temperatures on Friday will probably spend most of the day in the 10s, and will likely drop a few degrees over the course of the day. Lake snows should diminish Friday night or early Saturday as winds shift ahead of the next series of systems.

These will keep snow showers in the forecast through the weekend, along with the potential for another round of wind on Sunday.

An active weather pattern will persist through next week, particularly toward the middle of the week. Temperatures will probably mostly be near average with highs in the 30s.

More Information:

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This graphic represents an average over the entire Finger Lakes region. Localized variations should be expected.

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Follow Meteorologist Drew Montreuil:
Meteorologist Drew Montreuil has been forecasting the weather in the Finger Lakes region since 2006 and has degrees in meteorology from SUNY Oswego (B.S. with Honors) and Cornell (M.S.). Drew and his wife have four young boys. When not working or playing with the boys, he is probably out for a run through the countryside.