Weather hazards break down for the FLX Wednesday and Thursday

finger lakes weather forecast wednesday february 28 2024 cold front high winds thunderstorms lake effect snow
Multiple hazards will impact the Finger Lakes today, tonight, and Thursday, including high winds and locally intense lake effect snow. [Photo by Meteorologist Drew Montreuil, taken in Groton]

Weather Set Up

A strong area of low pressure will track across southeastern Canada today, dragging an impressive cold front through the area late today.

This weather system will bring multiple modes of hazardous weather to the Finger Lakes today, tonight, and Thursday.

This blog post will focus almost exclusively on these hazards with only a brief discussion of the weather from Friday and beyond at the end. Each section of the blog will address a single hazard, listed roughly in order of the time of occurrence.


Our region has already seen scattered thunderstorms move through early this morning. Additional on and off showers and thunderstorms are expected through the early afternoon. These storms should pose little threat outside of the inherent risks associated with lightning.

Between 1-3 PM, a line of heavy rain, strong winds, and occasional lightning will begin to take shape over Western New York and the western Finger Lakes. This line will organize and strengthen as it moves east, though lightning will remain minimal.

The primary threat with this line will be strong wind gusts capable of producing localized wind damage. Severe thunderstorm warnings may be issued for this line, as has been the case in previous similar events.

The greatest threat will be for areas roughly east of Keuka Lake between 3-5 PM. After 5 PM, the line should depart to the east.


Morning temperatures are starting out in the 50s and will have no trouble rising back into the low and mid 60s this afternoon, even with the clouds and occasional showers and thunderstorms.

However, as the aforementioned line of storms moves through, temperatures will begin to free-fall. Within minutes, temperatures will reach the 40s, and within an hour, the 30s.

The primary threat here will be between 6-8 PM as temperatures drop below freezing. Wet roads will turn slick and some areas may experience a flash freeze, resulting in icy, difficult travel. Less traveled, untreated roads will especially be at risk this evening.

Temperatures will make it all the way down to the upper 10s and low 20s by Thursday morning. Wind chills will locally be near 0 degrees Thursday morning, especially impacting children walking to school.

Daytime highs Thursday will mostly be in the upper 20s with wind chills remaining in the 10s.

finger lakes weather forecast map high wind warning wind advisory
Wind alerts are issued by the National Weather Service. Click to enlarge.

High Winds

South winds will be blustery this morning and early afternoon. Wind gusts will be similar to yesterday, if not a little stronger, coming in at 35-45 mph.

Again, localized damaging wind gusts associated with the heavy rain band this afternoon will be possible.

Winds will turn to the west-northwest and begin to increase within an hour or so of the band passage. Winds will peak during the early and mid evening hours, gradually declining around and after midnight.

Wind Advisories are in effect for the following counties, with gusts up to 50 mph expected: Allegany, Chemung, Genesee, Livingston, Steuben, Tioga, and Wyoming.

High Wind Warnings are in effect for the following counties, with gusts up to 60 mph expected: Cayuga, Cortland, Monroe, Onondaga, Ontario, Schuyler, Seneca, Tompkins, Wayne, and Yates.

Within the high wind warning, higher elevations and slopes exposed to the west will be at the highest risk for the peak wind gusts. This includes the eastern shores of the Finger Lakes. These winds will be capable of tree damage and power outages.

The high end winds will diminish overnight, but it will remain blustery through Thursday. Wind gusts during the day Thursday will still be as high as 40 mph.

Lake Effect Snow

Little to no snow accumulation is expected through the evening hours. Precipitation associated with the heavy rain band should end before enough cold air enters to produce any significant snowfall. Only scattered snow showers are expected behind the main area.

However, late this evening, lake effect snow will begin to organize southeast of Lake Ontario. There are several factors that may come together to create a particularly intense, yet narrow band of snow. One of these contributing factors will be extra moisture and support from the Upper Great Lakes.

Within the snow band, near blizzard conditions will be possible overnight and through the mid-morning hours on Thursday. For a small area, this will be a high-impact event.

Unfortunately, pinpointing where that small area will be is extremely difficult in a situation like this. The core of the band may only be a couple miles wide, and with the Upper Great Lakes playing a contributing role, even the slightest upstream change could cause the band to deviate significantly over our region.

finger lakes weather forecast map intense lake effect snow risk
The exact location of the heavy snow band, as well as how long it remains in one place, is highly uncertain. Click the image to enlarge. For a version without city labels, click here.

My first inclination is to place the core of heaviest snow near, but just south of Syracuse. This would also be near but north of Auburn, and close to, if not in Skaneateles and Tully.

With that as a starting point, I think areas to the north are more at risk than areas to the south.

Snow amounts will partly depend on how stationary the band is. If the band fluctuates around a lot, more areas will see snow, but the highest amounts will be lower. If the band is more stationary, a lot of snow may fall, but only in a very small area.

Parts of Wayne, northern/central Cayuga, and central/southern Onondaga counties could end up with a double-digit snowfall approaching a foot. Blowing snow will make travel especially difficult in these areas.

Much of Wayne, northern Cayuga, and Onondaga counties should see at least a couple inches fall. Areas to the south will see little to no accumulation, with the snow remaining just flurries and maybe a few brief squalls.

The snow will weaken during the late morning and afternoon, but probably will not completely disappear from the area until Thursday evening.

finger lakes weather 7-day forecast wed feb 28 | wed, periods of rain windy low 60 | thur, areas of snow windy upper 20 | fri, mostly sunny near 50 | sat, some scattered showers low 50 | sun, more clouds than sun upper 50 | mon, m cloudy maybe a shower low 60 | tues, some scattered showers mid 50
This graphic represents an average over the entire Finger Lakes region. Localized variations should be expected. Click to enlarge.

Friday and Beyond

Temperatures will quickly rebound, with highs near 50 and sunny skies on Friday. Warm conditions are expected through the weekend and into next week.

A few showers may be around this weekend and early next week, especially on Saturday and Tuesday. Unsettled weather will become more likely late next week.

Temperatures may remain mild during the latter part of next week, but there is a large spread of possibilities on the models.

Long range models continue to indicate some cooler weather for the second half of March and into early April.

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

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.

  1. Kelly Doolittle

    Great way to breakdown the next couple days assorted weather events, Drew. This sort-by-weather type format makes it much easier to take it all in. Thank you!