Intense Squall Late Today
Wednesday is off to a sunny, frosty start with clear skies and temperatures in the 20s and low 30s.
Sunshine will remain abundant through the morning with a gradual increase in clouds during the midday and afternoon hours.
Light southwest winds this morning will build to 10-15 mph during the afternoon as a sharp cold front approaches from the west. Temperatures will rise slightly above average for late March with a high near or just above 50 degrees for much of the region.
Along the cold front, a significant snow squall is expected to develop over Canada and drop southeast across the Finger Lakes during the late afternoon and early evening hours.
Multiple high-resolution models are indicating a pre-frontal band of precipitation may also develop just ahead of the primary squall. This pre-frontal band may fall as rain, or a rain-snow mix, and may have some thunder and lightning with it.
The primary squall will be soon to follow and may eventually overtake the pre-frontal development. Temperatures will quickly drop into the 30s as the squall arrives. Very heavy snow with wind gusts to 35 mph is likely with near-zero visibility at times. Some lightning may also be possible within the squall.
Road conditions will be tricky after getting warmed by the sunshine and mild temperatures during the daytime hours. However, as temperatures continue to drop, some flash freezing is possible along with snow covering the roads.
Travel will be hazardous in and after the squall, with the rapidly changing conditions and reduced visibility.
Timing fast-moving, narrow bands of precipitation is always a difficult proposition, which is further complicated by the developing pre-frontal precipitation. It is not possible to list all locations here in the blog text, so be sure to check your Zip Code based forecast
In general, though, the squall and pre-frontal precipitation should enter the northern and western Finger Lakes between 4-6 PM. This includes areas such as Rochester, Dansville, and Geneva. The squall will only take 2-3 hours to cross the entire region, so eastern and southern areas such as Elmira, Ithaca, and Cortland should see the squall between 6-8 PM.
Pay attention to the radar late this afternoon and use caution out on the roads. At the very least, pulling into a parking lot or other safe area as the squall passes is recommended.
Once the squall passes, temperatures will continue to drop, but snow should be sporadic and light with little additional accumulation overnight. Be on the lookout for black ice into early Thursday as temperatures reach the low and mid 20s overnight.
Active Spring Pattern
After a few localized lake-effect flurries early Thursday morning, sunshine should increase and stick around for the rest of the day.
Northwest winds will be steady but not very strong, with speeds around 10 mph and gusts of 20-25 mph. It will be a cool day with most areas not escaping the mid and upper 30s.
Warm air will surge back in on Friday with temperatures steadily rising towards the 50s through the day and into the nighttime hours. Scattered showers will be possible, especially in the afternoon and evening hours. A few spits of rain or snow earlier in the day also cannot be ruled out.
South winds will build to 10-15 mph Friday night and will increase further after sunrise Saturday, eventually turning to the southwest. Wind speeds of 15-20 mph are likely with gusts of at least 40 mph, if not stronger.
Temperatures Saturday will start in the 50s, so it will not take much to push highs well into the 60s by the early afternoon. Another strong cold front will move through during the afternoon, sending temperatures into the 30s by the early evening and to the low 20s and upper 10s overnight.
Rain showers are likely on Saturday and some thunderstorms could also develop. Any thunderstorms that develop will be able to tap into stronger winds above the surface and could lead to a localized severe thunderstorm risk.
Sunday will be similar to Thursday with a good deal of sunshine, but chilly temperatures behind the front. Look for highs around 40 degrees.
The cool-down will be very brief, with highs rocketing back into the 60s on Monday. Skies will remain a mix of sun and clouds, but a few showers may also be possible.
A strong frontal boundary will set up towards the middle of next week. Where this boundary is located will determine our weather and temperatures. If the boundary ends up to the north, some of the warmest air so far in 2023 could move in for a brief stay.
This graphic represents an average over the entire Finger Lakes region. Localized variations should be expected.
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