Showers Tuesday afternoon, Ice Wednesday afternoon

finger lakes weather forecast tuesday february 21 2023 rain showers sleet freezing rain ice
A wintry mix is expected to overspread the area Wednesday afternoon with highly variable precipitation types and impacts. [Photo by Gwen Moshier]

Tuesday Weather

An active weather pattern is setting up across much of the United States, including locally in the Finger Lakes region.

A quick moving low pressure system will pass to our north today, dragging a cold front through during the afternoon hours. This will be just the first in a parade of weather systems that will continue into next week.

Clouds across the area are thin this morning but will thicken up as time goes on. Southerly winds will help push temperatures into the low and mid 40s by the early afternoon.

Scattered showers will move into the western Finger Lakes during the midday and early afternoon and will move east across the area over the span of a couple of hours. Most of the rain should be to the east by 4 or 5 PM.

There is a small chance for a few briefly heavier downpours and maybe even a rumble of thunder or some graupel mixing in this afternoon. On the flip side, some areas may get missed by the showers, with little to no rain at all. Most areas should see at least some rain, though.

Winds will pick up behind the front as they turn towards the west. Areas from along and west of a rough line from Sodus to Geneva to Penn Yan to Bath will see the strongest winds of 35-45 mph. To the east, gusts will be in the 25-35 mph range.

Temperatures will drop slightly behind the front this afternoon, ending up in the mid and upper 30s by sunset.

A few stray flurries will be possible during the late afternoon and evening hours. No snow accumulation is expected outside of a localized coating here or there.

Most of the overnight will be quiet and the clouds may even break up a little for a time. Winds will decrease and temperatures will drop into the mid 20s.

Wednesday Ice

The largest concern in the near future will be for an icy mix Wednesday afternoon and evening. Here are the latest updates and details.

Now that the event is drawing closer, the timing of the onset of the precipitation is trending earlier. I have also mentioned numerous times this winter that precipitation in similar events tends to arrive on the earlier side of expectations.

Therefore, I would expect precipitation to start making its way into the Finger Lakes from the south as early as the midday and early afternoon hours. With an advanced timeline, there become questions on how long into the evening the precipitation will last.

Another difficulty that the models often get wrong is the precipitation type. Frequently, warm air is more powerful than expected and makes it further north quicker than projected.

Some of the short-term, higher resolution models are showing a faster, warmer event than the large-scale models have been showing, and I feel they should be given a significant weighting in the forecast.

In a worst-case scenario, freezing rain becomes the dominant precipitation type and lasts for many hours Wednesday afternoon and deep into Wednesday evening. In this scenario, higher elevations in particular could see enough ice to cause some minor tree damage and sporadic power outages. This is not what I expect, but it remains a possibility.

In a best-case scenario, which I think is more likely than the above alternative, there will be a brief period of snow, sleet, then freezing rain before precipitation tapers off and temperatures warm by evening.

In the end, though, precipitation type and its impacts will vary greatly from location to location across our complex area no matter the exact scenario. Preparing for a worse situation and being over-prepared is better than being caught off guard.

Travel conditions are likely to become hazardous during Wednesday afternoon and persisting at least into early Wednesday evening. Along and north of I-90, there could be a few inches of snow before turning to ice, while areas south of I-90 should see mostly icy precipitation.

finger lakes weather medium range snow outlook tuesday february 21 2023 see blog text for pertinent information
Light snow accumulations downwind of Lake Ontario are likely Friday and Sunday, with highly uncertain snow chances towards the middle of next week. Click to enlarge.

Weather Beyond Wednesday

On Thursday, most of the precipitation should be north of the area and warm air will start to move in from the south. Temperatures will likely be highly variable, ranging from the 30s near Lake Ontario to 50s along the NY-PA state line.

If any areas remain below freezing, some additional freezing drizzle may be possible. Most areas should see just plain rain showers and drizzle. Some sunshine may work its way into the southern half of the area, depending on the position of the temperature gradient.

Winds will turn to the northwest Thursday evening and temperatures will begin to free-fall. By Friday morning, most areas will be around or below 20 degrees, and temperatures will not rise during the day Friday.

The northwest winds will increase, especially during the morning hours, with gusts over 35 mph likely. In a scenario where there is significant icing still on trees, this wind could cause some additional tree damage and power outages.

Snow showers off Lake Ontario will be likely on Friday but should diminish as the day goes on. Several inches will be possible downwind of the lakes.

Saturday looks to be a quieter day with plenty of cloud cover. Winds will be nearly calm, but out of the south, helping temperatures recover into a range from the mid 20s to mid 30s. The further southwest, the warmer the temperatures.

Sunday is slightly uncertain with some snow possible on the backside of a quickly developing low pressure over the Atlantic Ocean. At most, a couple of inches may fall, mostly downwind of Lake Ontario once again.

finger lakes weather 7-day forecast tue feb 21 | tues, scattered showers mid 40 | wed, afternoon, evening ice low 30 | thur, scattered showers low 40 | fri, windy snow showers upper 10 | sat, mostly cloudy near 30 | sun, snow showers mid 30 | mon, pm rain and wind low 40
This graphic represents an average over the entire Finger Lakes region. Localized variations should be expected. Click to enlarge.

A strong low may move into the Upper Great Lakes Monday into Tuesday, setting us up for another period of wind and rain. This system could spawn another coastal low, which has the forecast highly uncertain for Tuesday into Wednesday next week.

The weather will likely remain active late next week as well, but temperatures and thus precipitation types are very uncertain.

More Information:

» Finger Lakes Weather Radar

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finger lakes weather 7-day forecast tue feb 21 | tues, scattered showers mid 40 | wed, afternoon, evening ice low 30 | thur, scattered showers low 40 | fri, windy snow showers upper 10 | sat, mostly cloudy near 30 | sun, snow showers mid 30 | mon, pm rain and wind low 40
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.