ITHACA, N.Y. — The calendar may say October, but given the forecast for the next several days, one could be forgiven for thinking it’s still early September.

Image courtesy of Tropical

Temperatures today will be flirting with 80° F thanks to an area of high pressure parked off the Mid-Atlantic coast. Since air circulates clockwise around areas of high pressure, that means warm, moist air is being brought in from the Southeastern U.S., and giving Ithaca a warm autumn treat. However, by late this afternoon, a weak cold front will be entering to the region from the west, creating enough instability to fire off some rain showers and an outside chance for a thunderstorm or two.

Things will be quieting down overnight as the front pushes south, cloudy and mid 50s for a low, and during the day Thursday conditions will be mild and pleasant with highs in the low 70s for most of the region. However, as the front stalls out and is then nudged back towards the region as a warm front, the likelihood of rain increases for Thursday night into Friday. Expect mild but unsettled conditions heading into the weekend, with cloudy skies, showers possible, and highs Friday in the mid-to-upper-60s, maybe 70 depending on the strength of southwesterly flow and amount of cloud cover. Lows overnight will be low-to-mid 50s. For comparison, the average high at this time of the year is the low 60s, and lows in the low 40s.

After the warm front passes Friday night, Saturday will be picture perfect, sunny and low 70s with a counterclockwise southwesterly flow of mild air ahead of a low pressure area passing north of the Great Lakes. That system is decaying as it approaches, so any cool-down will be slight; in fact, in the city of Ithaca, temperatures may not dip below 60° F Saturday night.

GFS Model Output for 06z October 8th (2am October 8th). Image courtesy of Tropical

The forecast gets tricky for Sunday morning onward. The environment for early next week could be quite complicated, in part because multiple weather models are suggesting the formation of a tropical storm, which would be called “Nate”, developing in the Caribbean and entering the Gulf of Mexico. Models (the American GFS and the European ECMWF) are keen on bringing this potential system into the Gulf Coast, possibly as a hurricane. With the mid-latitude low pressure system near us, the potential is there for mid-latitude system to tap into Nate’s moisture as it pushes northward. That could create a very large-sized, high-precipitation event.

This is several days out and the models are liable to adjust their forecasts as newer model runs are calculated. But, given the potential for a significant rain event, it needs to be watched over the coming days.

6-10 day temperature probability, from the NOAA Climate Prediction Center. Warm colors indicate a greater chance of warmer-than-normal conditions.

Beyond that potential problem, the long-term prospects for October are looking quite mild, with temperatures running around 10 degrees above normal for the next week or so. Things are looking to be on the dry side after this tropical issue is settled. This will provide opportunities for some leaf-peeping, because although warmer temperatures may slow down the change, it’s also driven by length of daylight, and ‘ol Sol is showing itself less and less each day. Enjoy it, because winter’s just around the corner.

Brian Crandall

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