ITHACA, N.Y. — This will help fight those winter blues – Tompkins County can expect to an enjoy a rather spring-like warmup during the middle of the week.

Image courtesy NWS Binghamton

Weather Recap

Overall, it’s looking to be a quieter week than the one we just ended. The snowstorm that came through Tuesday night into Wednesday dropped about 4 to 8 inches of snow across Tompkins County, shutting down many schools and cancelling government meetings. Some 40+ °F temperatures crept in by Saturday, but as the many folks experienced Sunday morning, a thin but consistent later of ice had built up, sending many feet slipping, and rear ends to the ground. This was courtesy of a sizable batch of freezing rain passed through Sunday morning as the cold front that had slipped in late Saturday, slipped back northward as a warm front. Practical reminder, air masses don’t always move in one direction, they can and often do get pushed back and forth.

Most of the Eastern United States is running below normal for the first third of February, and about 5 to 7 degrees below normal across most of Upstate New York. For those keeping score, daily average temperatures are starting to creep up again to the mid 30s F for highs and upper teens for lows. According to the Northeast Regional Climate Center, with the rather warm weekend we just had, temperatures have moderated out just a bit to just 3 degrees below normal, and precipitation totals are par for the course. However, we appear to be in something of a pattern change, and as a result, we can expect some further moderation and downright mild conditions as we head through the work week.

Precipitation, mean sea level pressure and 1000-500 mb thickness (temperature proxy) for 1 AM Thursday morning. Warm air will be advected into the region on the tail end of a high pressure system, bringing mild if wet conditions to the area. GFS Model output courtesy tropicaltidbits.com.

Your Weekly Forecast

So, let’s start off with this afternoon. It was a seasonably chilly Monday as the cold front shifted through again and is now firmly south of the region, and high pressure and tranquil conditions have prevailed over the course of the day. With that cooler air slipping in from the north and northwest, temperatures are a little below normal, mid and upper 20s across most of the county.

That high pressure area will dictate the weather for the next couple of days as it shifts eastward, passing right over the Southern Tier as it heads for New England and the Northern Atlantic. Things will remain quiet as it passes above Tompkins County, and after it passes, the clockwise flow of air around that air means that we’ll start drawing in warmer air from the south and southwest, allowing temperatures to moderate quite nicely over the next couple of days.

For tonight, expect chilly, calm conditions with lows 10-15°F, maybe some single digits on the hilltops in Newfield and Enfield. There will be a northerly breeze going, so wind chills will make it feel more like o-10°F above.

Tuesday will be a pleasant day by February standards. Mostly sunny skies with light winds, and a high around 32°F. Tuesday night will see some thickening clouds and milder temperatures as the back end of that high conjures a southern wind carrying in warmer air and moisture. Lows Tuesday night will only fall to the mid 20s.

Wednesday will be partly sunny and mild. You and your Valentine will be enjoying temperatures in the mid and upper 40s, though no one looks liable to break into the 50s just yet.

Graphic courtesy of NWS Binghamton.

Wednesday night and Thursday look a bit iffy, if fairly warm. The deep southwest flow will help move some cloudiness and rain into the region as an area of disturbed weather passes to the south and east. Wednesday night, expect mostly cloudy skies and some scattered showers, with temperatures a mild 35-40°F. Thursday, you’ll be switching out to your spring coat, but bring an umbrella – highs will be in the mid 50s for most of Tompkins County, with most cloudy skies and a few rain showers.

Thursday night into Friday looks to be unsettled, as rain builds ahead of a cold front, and snow follows its passage. Accumulations are looking to be light, the snow will be weak and broken up into showers rather than anything persistent. Some pockets of ice may form in rural areas Thursday night, so keep that in mind if you’ll be out and about. Lows will be around 32°F Thursday night with rain and snow showers, and Friday will be cloudy, scatted snow and rain showers, and highs around 40, falling quickly through the evening to a low Friday night in the upper teens.

A glance at the weekend suggests a sunny and seasonable Saturday with highs around freezing, and a sunny and warmer Sunday with highs in the 40s, which should continue into the start of next week.

Extended Outlook

For those of you who like it mild, there’s some good news in store. In a significant pattern change from the first third of the month, medium-range models are suggesting a persistent ridge over the Southeastern United States, and a persistent trough over the upper Plains and Western United States. This is a classic winter “La Niña” weather pattern, which has been lacking for most of this winter.

It’s unusual to see NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center to be this assured this far out, but there’s strong agreement that the last third of February is looking to be well above normal in terms of temperature (while they’re already sounding the alarm for unusually severe cold from the Pacific Northwest to the Dakotas). It’s also like to be wetter than normal, from here down to the lower Mississippi River Valley, because a southeast ridge would act as a conveyor belt for Gulf of Mexico moisture to be pumped northward and eastward.

Brian Crandall

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