Light to Moderate Snow Event
Low pressure will slowly track eastward across Ohio and Pennsylvania today, bringing an area of snow into the Finger Lakes.
The snow may start as some on and off flurries this morning, but the steadiest snow should not arrive until the early to mid afternoon hours. The snow will spread from southwest to northeast.
Moderate snowfall rates, generally under an inch per hour, will be commonplace through the second half of the afternoon and into the evening hours. After midnight, the snowfall rates will decline, but some areas may hold on to light snow showers into the midday hours on Saturday.
Temperatures during the daytime hours will mostly be above freezing, peaking in the mid 30s before the snow arrives, then losing a degree or two as the snow begins. This should keep at least the main roads in decent shape throughout the afternoon, especially with active road crews.
Travel conditions will begin to deteriorate as the sun begins to set with the most hazardous travel coming Friday evening into early Saturday morning. Extra travel time and due caution will be necessary if traveling during the nighttime hours, when temperatures will be around or just under 30 degrees.
On Saturday, road conditions will gradually improve, partially depending on how road crews address the snowfall. Expect mixed conditions through the morning, with some rural roads remaining sloppy into the afternoon.
Total snow accumulation from roughly noon Friday through noon Saturday will be highest in the higher elevations of the western Southern Tier. Locally over 8 inches could fall, though it seems unlikely that any widespread totals approach a foot.
Most of the area will be between 3-6 inches, with western and southern areas generally on the higher side of that range and northern and eastern areas on the lower end of the range.
Since my standardized snow map categories have a cut-off at 4 inches, I tried to identify the areas most likely to sneak into the 5-6 inch range in the 4-8 inch category, while keeping areas more likely to see around or just under 4 inches in the 2-4 inch range.
As always, all snow maps are generalized estimates that are generally incapable of capturing all the fine details that come out of the chaotic nature of snow events. They are meant to serve as a broad guide for an area, but it should not be surprising if they do not 100% match the reality of what falls in any single location. It is more important to focus on the impacts than quibble over an inch difference here or there.
Saturday afternoon will be mostly cloudy, but some sun may poke between the clouds, especially late in the day. Temperatures should make it above freezing and into the mid 30s, which will help significantly with the road conditions. Partial clearing Saturday night will send temperatures into the 10s.
More Snow Next Week
Sunday will be a quiet but cloudy day with highs working into the upper 30s. This will be our break between snows, with a long-duration snow event looking more likely for the first half of next week.
Uncertainty remains high in the path of the low pressure system(s) that will be responsible for the snow next week. As such, snow amounts also remain highly uncertain. However, the chances for at least some accumulating snow are growing, and over the course of a three-day period, the snow could start to add up, even if daily amounts remain modest.
Light snow is possible throughout the day on Monday, but the heavier snow will not become possible until later in the day. Monday night and early Tuesday are currently the prime time for heavy snow, and this will especially be possible over the eastern Finger Lakes.
Again, I must stress that the location of the heavy snow is highly uncertain. While snowfall rates should increase later Monday into Tuesday, how much they increase remains to be seen.
Additional snow, either from a stalled-out low, from lake effect, or both, may persist through Tuesday night into Wednesday. High winds will also be possible both Tuesday and Wednesday, causing blowing and drifting snow.
The most likely area to see significant snow will be in the hills between Syracuse and Cortland, as these are the prime areas both for lake effect snow and heavier snowfall rates from the low pressure system, which will be somewhere over New England or the nearby coastal waters.
And while the chances are now looking low, it is still within the realm of possibility that most of the snow stays outside of the Finger Lakes region and we remain spectators to this event. The further west, the greater the chances of this occurring.
I will, of course, continue to monitor this situation closely through the weekend and will post updates as they seem pertinent. Be wary of hype and premature snow amount forecasts and stay tuned.
Generally quiet weather is expected late next week and through the weekend. Temperatures may even get a small bump into the 40s for a day or two before returning to the 30s.
This graphic represents an average over the entire Finger Lakes region. Localized variations should be expected.
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