ITHACA, N.Y. — We hope the holiday cheer has been enough to warm your hearts and minds. The weather sure as heck hasn’t.

GFS forecast model precipitation, sea level pressure and 1000-500mb thickness (temperature proxy) for 8 PM Monday. Warm air will be moving in from the southeast as a weak storm system (shortwave trough) passes west to east. Model image courtesy

Today will be the first time since last Wednesday that temperatures will break freezing (32 °F / 0 °C). It’s a pretty comfortable bet at least, as high pressure off of the Atlantic coast will advect some warmer air from the southeast into the Southern Tier. It’s a fairly active pattern weather-wise as pulses of energy ride along an energetic jet stream, providing instability for surface low pressure areas and creating some light rain and snow as a result. These systems or fast-moving and don’t have much moisture associated with them, so no soakers or big snowstorms are expected. As the atmosphere turns milder with that warm air, any snow showers will change over to a cold rain before petering out, with highs around 40°F in Ithaca proper, and mid 30s in rural areas and higher elevations. Monday night will be mostly cloudy with lows in the 30-35°F range.

On Tuesday, things should get a little warmer, low to mid 40s, though conditions will remain unsettled, mostly cloudy with a chance for light rain showers. A weak cold front slips in Tuesday night, with the rain changing over to snow by daybreak, though unless you’re heading up past Lake Ontario, don’t expect anything more than a coating.

Wednesday and Thursday will be seasonably cold, but on the bright side, there should be some breaks of sun on both days. Highs will be in the mid 30s in our more urban areas, to right around 32 °F farther out. Lows will be in the low to mid 20s under partly cloudy skies.

Friday and Saturday look to have another warm front moving into the region, with highs in the mid 40s for most of Tompkins County, and lows Friday night in the upper 30s. There is some concern at the moment that as warm air moves in on Friday morning that some freezing rain may develop as the moister air of the warm air rides over the colder, denser air below before successfully pushing it out. But, since freezing rain is dependent on the right amount of coldness and depth, it’s too early to call at the moment. It will be cloudy with on-and-off rain Friday Night and Saturday, but hey, you don’t have to shovel rain.

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

Overall, this week will average near to a little above normal, a welcome change of pace from the recent bout of chilly temperatures. For those looking to do Christmas travels, the major weather models are increasingly showing a severe cold snap over the Upper Great Plains and Midwest due to a trough that will develop in the jet stream, so if you’re heading to Chicago, Minneapolis or Denver, take note. They are also indicating potential snow/ice travel hazards in the lower Mississippi Valley (Arkansas, Tennessee) and Mountain West (Colorado, Wyoming), and potentially here as well, though depending on the amount of warm air in the area, it may end up being a cold rain rather than mixed or frozen precipitation.

Brian Crandall

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