If you like grey skies and omnipresent light snow, this will be your week. For everyone else, well, keep your chin up.

Graphic courtesy of the Northeast Regional Climate Center.

Weather Recap

Even though the weather models had trouble with determining the path of last week’s storm, a last-minute shift to the east allowed most the Southern Tier to be spared the latest volley of snow. The passing storm and its lingering showers as it decayed over Canada deposited a total of 3.5″ at the Cornell Game Farm Road weather station from Tuesday through Thursday.

Since that time, the weather has been mostly grey, with a little snow, and slightly below average temperatures. At the moment, we’re still running a hair above normal for the first third of the month, but with 8.5″ so far, snow is running about twice the average for this point in March.

Before it slips too far into the past, let’s take a look at the climatological winter (December, January, and February) for 2017-18. According to the Northeast Regional Climate Center’s data, the average temperature of 25.0° F is practically the median of all values – half of winters since 1893 had higher average temperatures, half had lower than average temperatures. As the graphic above shows, most of the Northeast would be considered “near normal”. An average December gave way to a frigid January and a mild February.

Graphic courtesy of the Northeast Regional Climate Center.

The data for snowfall also fails to stand out from a century of observations. At 36.1 inches for DJF winter, values ran a bit below the average of 44.4 inches, and all three months were below their normal accumulations. Pardon the dry humor, but it appears March is making up for that deficit, though nothing especially disruptive is expected.

Precipitation, mean sea level pressure and 1000-500 mb thickness (temperature proxy) for 8 AM Tuesday morning. A rapidly strengthening Nor’Easter will pass east of the region, but allow lake-enhanced snow bands to develop. GFS Model output courtesy of tropicaltidbits.com.
Precipitation, mean sea level pressure and 1000-500 mb thickness (temperature proxy) for 8 AM Tuesday morning. A rapidly strengthening Nor’Easter will pass east of the region, but allow lake-enhanced snow bands to develop. GFS Model output courtesy of tropicaltidbits.com.

Your Weekly Forecast

At the moment, yet another Nor’Easter is developing, the third in ten days. This one, currently off the coast of the Carolinas (and what the research meteorologists call a “Miller Type A” storm), will rapidly strengthen as it passes over the warm Gulf Stream current and heads up the coast.

On the bright side, this storm should trek far enough east to create any serious problems for Tompkins County (Albany east to Boston is a different matter). However, as the National Weather Service in Binghamton nores, it will linger and affect our weather through mid-week. Most of the time, a storm like this moves out to sea, but an atmospheric blocking pattern over Greenland will push this storm into the Canadian Maritimes instead, where it will slowly decay. The large, strong counterclockwise circulation of the storm’s low pressure center will drag cold, moist air over Lake Ontario, and the unstable atmosphere will permit lake-enhanced snow bands to fire up and plague our region for at least a couple of days.

Graphic courtesy of NWS Binghamton.

For today, with the storm intensifying to the southeast, expect cloudy if generally dry conditions, with light winds and a high in the mid 30s. As we head into tonight, a surface trough enhanced by the storm will allow snow bands to develop in the I-81 corridor. Plan for cloudy skies Monday night with chances for snow rising after 10 PM. Lows will be in the mid 20s. The higher in elevation and the more eastward one is, the higher the snow accumulations, but generally, expect 1-4″.

On Tuesday, snow associated with the Nor’Easter will weaken as the storm moves away and further into Canada, and winds will shift to the north and northwest. Highs will be around 32° F. Lake enhanced snow bands will take over thanks to the winds passing over Lake Ontario, so Tuesday night will be cloudy with scattered snow showers, and a low in the mid 20s.

As the storm’s low pressure center continues to slowly decay on Wednesday, conditions will continue to be cloudy and snowy, though no large accumulations are expected. Highs will be in the upper 20s to low 30s. Wednesday night, as the low pressure area winds down, so will the winds and remnant snow bands. Clouds begin to break up, and temperatures should get a bit chillier, with lows in the low 20s.

Things improve from there. Thursday will see high pressure building in from the west, with mostly cloudy skies and a high in the mid 30s. Thursday night will be mostly cloudy as well, with highs in the low to mid 20s. Friday is forecast to have partly cloudy skies with highs in the mid 30s once again, and Friday night, partly cloudy, lows in the low to mid 20s.

The weekend is looking to see a shift to milder conditions. Saturday will be mostly sunny and in the low 40s, while Sunday is expected to reach the upper 40s, though another storm may be moving in for the start of next week.

Graphic courtesy of the NOAA Climate Prediction Center.

Extended Outlook

Spring may be coming on the calendar, the last half of March is looking to be slightly on the cooler and wetter side; the NOAA Climate Prediction Center, which does meteorological outlooks for the next few months, expects a persistent bubble of warmer air trapped in the Southeast and Texas, that won’t oscillate into the north or west. A deep trough over the western United States will create cooler, stormier conditions, and while we’re somewhat likely to be under the influence of a jet stream trough as well, there’s an outside chance we get occasional taps into that southern heat. If South Texas is already hitting 100° F, they probably won’t mind sparing a few degrees.

Brian Crandall

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