ITHACA, N.Y. — If someone could re-ignite the pilot light for Mother Nature’s furnace, we’d appreciate it.

Wind chill advisories are in effect through noon tomorrow as arctic air remains firmly entrenched over the Southern Tier, as well as most of the Midwest and New England. With temperatures topping out between 10 and 15°F today, and lows around zero degrees tonight, winds of 10-15 MPH and gusts up to 25 MPH will have the temperature feeling more like -15 to  -20°F.

2-meter temperature anomaly map. Courtesy of the University of Maine Climate Change Institute.

These conditions are expected to persist for at least the next couple of days, with temperatures unlikely to break 20°F over the next week. For the record, the average high this time of the year is in the low-to-mid 30s. Much of the Eastern and Central United States will be 20 to 40 degrees below normal. You can thank the polar vortex for this frigid end to 2017 – while the North Pole basks in unseasonable heat thanks to surging air from the mid-latitudes, the low-pressure area that typically sits over the North Pole is now slowly drifting over North America, bringing the cold air with it.

All your usual cold-weather rules apply – bundle up if you’re going outside, bring pets indoors and ensure farm animals have access to shelter and unfrozen water, use caution with fireplaces and space heaters, protect your water pipes and never operator any power generators inside a home, because we would prefer note writing up a story of someone getting poisoned by toxic carbon monoxide gas.

Snowfall accumulations between 12/27 4:00 AM and 12/28 7 AM. Image courtesy of NWS Binghamton.

Generally speaking, if there’s an icy silver lining to this, it’s that any new snowfall will be light and sporadic. Most readers can expect a snow shower or two from the tendrils of lake effect snow bands coming off of Lake Ontario, but Ithacans need only to expect an inch at most, with some higher amounts of 2-3″ possible north and east (Lansing, Groton). Blame the lake effect on the cold – what happens is that very cold air passing over relatively warmer water draws in a lot of heat energy from the lake, leading to atmospheric instability and convective snow bands. Until the lake freezes over, that will be the prevailing pattern for the next few days. Just be glad you’re not in Oswego, where they recorded three feet overnight.

Brian Crandall

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