ITHACA, N.Y. — Admit it. Even if you’re worried about potential ecological consequences, the unseasonably warm the Southern Tier has been experiencing has been kinda nice. The resident pessimists could note that this will make the transition to winter that much harsher.

For what it’s worth, Ithaca has already had its killing frost, when temperatures dropped into the upper 20s on the morning of the 17th. All but two days this month have had high temperatures above what meteorologists informally call “the jacket line”, 60° F. In a case of perfectly normal, abnormal weather, one of those two days was the 1st of the month. The other was the 17th.

The result so far is that, with an average daily temperature (maximum and minimum averaged) of about 56.6° F, temperatures are running about seven degrees above normal so far this month. We’re currently on track for the third warmest October in Ithaca’s 124-year record, and the warmest since 1947. Not too shabby, right? However, from here on it physically gets a lot more difficult to keep that rank, simply because climatological averages tend to drop fairly quickly in October. A high of 70° F is only five degrees above normal for October 1st. A high of 70° F is sixteen degrees above normal for October 31st. So probability says that colder days are increasingly more likely, and will bring the average down.

That’s pretty much the story for the week ahead. At the moment, a persistent ridge of high pressure continues to pump in warm, dry air from the south, but a low pressure circulation approaching from our west will be putting an end to that. A strong cold front attached to the low pressure area will bring rain, gusty winds and cooler temperatures in short order. Conditions will be unsettled as the high and low pressure areas duke it out for dominance of the eastern seaboard like a couple of Godzilla monsters, with multiple shortwave pulses of energy bringing rounds of showers and maybe a thunderstorm or two Monday evening into Tuesday.

Precipitation, mean sea level pressure and 1000-500 mb thickness (temperature proxy) for 8 AM Tuesday morning. An area of low pressure to our east will bring a strong front with gusty winds and rainy conditions into the region. GFS Model output courtesy

Expect temperatures Monday to top out around 70° F and lows only in the upper 50s to 60° F Monday night, with showers moving in late in the day. Rainfall amounts around 0.1-0.25 inches, and winds up to 30 MPH as the storm system intensifies to the northwest.

Tuesday will be a drencher if still relatively mild, with temperatures in the mid to upper 60s F, and rainfall amounts up to half an inch. Be aware that if traveling to Albany or New York Tuesday, there is a possibility for flash flooding east of Ithaca, as tropical moisture clashes with the instability created by the front to produce 2 or 3 inches of rain in just a few hours. Rain and wind should taper off by Tuesday night, with mostly cloudy skies and temperatures in the mid 40s.

After Tuesday night, the low pressure and jet stream trough will be embedded over the region, keeping conditions unsettled and cool for Wednesday and Thursday, with bouts of light to moderate rain showers interspersed among mostly cloudy skies. Highs will be in the mid or upper 50s with overnight lows around 40.

500mb geopotential heights (temperature proxy) and sea level pressure for 8 AM Friday morning. Warm air will be moving into the region from the south thanks to an area of high pressure moving into the region. ECMWF model output courtesy

But keep your chins up, folks – high pressure will shove its way back into the region by Friday, and by the end of the week, things are looking dry and a little warmer than normal for this time of the year, with sunny skies, highs in the low to maybe mid 60s, and lows in the mid 40s. Perfect weather for those late season apple pickings, leaf raking, or Wizarding Weekend.

Brian Crandall

Brian Crandall reports on housing and development for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached at