ITHACA, N.Y. — Most folks are familiar with the old almanac line “April showers bring May flowers.” If this week is any indication, May will be quite the bloom.

Weather Recap

Last week’s prediction of a wet, cool week panned out. The second half of the work week racked up 1.32″ of rain, with seasonably cool temperatures. Cooler than normal highs were balanced out by warmer than normal lows, as the clouds trapped some of the heat of the day and kept the area from cooling off so much during the overnight.

March was a cold one. For a spring month, it’s not often that the first day of the month is the warmest one. Yet, that seems to have been the case this year – the highest temperature was 56 °F on the 1st, according to the Northeast Regional Climate Center, and the lowest temperature was an almighty 3 °F on the morning of the 20th. It looks like March will finish about four degrees below normal (28.6 °F), which actually makes it colder than the average temperature Ithaca saw in February (30.1 °F).

In fact, thanks to a persistent trough in the jet stream that allowed numerous storms and frequent shots of cold air into the central and eastern United States, many places had colder Marches than they did Februaries. Given the snow falling in the New York and Philadelphia areas this morning, the cold, wet pattern has yet to change, and for better or worse, don’t expect it to change this week either.

Precipitation, mean sea level pressure and 1000-500 mb thickness (temperature proxy) for 2 AM Wednesday morning. Rain associated with a warm front will enter the region Tuesday morning and persist into Wednesday. GFS Model output courtesy tropicaltidbits.com.

Your Weekly Forecast

It’s a bright start to the work week as a storm system passes well to our South; any clouds associated with that system should be quick to depart thanks to fast zonal (west-east) flow in the jet stream, which will quickly carry the storm out into the Atlantic. All in all, today should be a nice if cool day – sunny skies and mid to upper 40s, warmer in the urban neighborhoods and cooler in the rural areas and higher elevations.

Unfortunately, as with the storm to the south, the sunny skies and high pressure over upstate will also be short-lived. Tonight, a new storm will begin working its way in from the southwest. Clouds will build in quickly after sunset, with precipitation likely to start making its way in around sunrise. What kind of precipitation is a tricky question – lows will be in the mid 30s in Ithaca proper, and around 32 °F further out in the towns. That means Ithaca will probably start as a rain and stay that way, while places like Groton and Newfield may start with snow or mixed precipitation and change over to rain as warm air and sunlight bring temperatures up. Long story short, possible ice on hills or rural areas tomorrow morning, drive carefully.

Tuesday should be cloudy and rainy, but temperatures will moderate as a warm front moves in. Expect highs Tuesday in the mid to upper 40s, and lows in the mid 40s Tuesday night as the rain starts breaks up into scattered showers. This will be a wet period, with rainfall amounts of an inch or more possible. Winds will shift to the south Tuesday night, and by Wednesday, we’re looking at a cloudy, breezy day with scattered rain showers and highs in the low and mid 50s.

A cold front on the back edge of the low pressure area will usher in a new wave of colder air starting Wednesday afternoon. It won’t be a sudden drop, but winds will shift to the west and northwest and temperatures drop off steadily after sunset, with lows in the mid 20s Wednesday night and mostly cloudy skies, and perhaps an isolated snow shower or two.

In the second half of the week, conditions will be cold and unsettled. Thursday is looking to be chilly and quiet early on. Expect mostly cloudy skies with highs in the upper 30s to near 40 °F. As fast-moving system Thursday night and Friday will create some rain or snow showers, though nothing significant. Lows Thursday night will be in the mid and upper 20s, and highs Friday will be in the low and mid 40s. Friday night will have mostly cloudy skies, a few lingering showers, and lows in the mid and upper 20s, and Saturday and Sunday should be brisk, with temperatures just breaking 40 °F under partly or mostly cloudy skies, and lows in the mid 20s.

Extended Outlook

As mentioned earlier, it’s not looking so good for a warm April. The NOAA Climate Prediction Center is expecting much of the Midwest, Northeast and Mid-Atlantic to experience colder than normal conditions both for the next couple weeks, and for the rest of the month. Precipitation is also expected to be above normal for much of the eastern third of the continental United States as the prolonged trough in the jet stream allows more storms to develop and track south and southeast along the jet.

In case you were wondering, yes, it appears the only place withe widespread abnormal cold right now is the central and eastern United States. Funny how that works.

Brian Crandall

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