Graphic courtesy of NWS Binghamton.

ITHACA, N.Y. — It’s been an exhausting, cold start to spring, but it appears that Ithaca and Tompkins County have finally caught a break this week. Although there is a fair amount of rain in the forecast, mild temperatures and at least a few sunny days will make this final week of April feel downright pleasant compared to the past few weeks.

Graphic courtesy of the Northeast Regional Climate Center (NRCC).

Weather Recap

Last week was pretty typical of the meteorological theme of the past couple of months – cold and wet. Only three days have been above average this month so far, and the most was just 5.3 °F above normal on the 13th. You will be immensely excited to know that we are now only running the fifth-coldest April on record, according to data from the Northeast Regional Climate Center. With any luck, we might fall out of the top ten before this month is over.

Interestingly enough, despite the chilly temperatures, April snow is just a bit above average, 3.6″ vs. the usual 3.1″ by this date. Statistically speaking, the chances of more snow from here on are fairly slim – just 25 of 106 valid years of Ithaca climate data had snow accumulate on April 23rd or later, so practically a one-in-four chance. But meteorology and atmospheric dynamics have a way of downplaying statistics. The latest snowfall ever recorded was May 24th, 1931 (and five days later it was 92 °F). May 18th, 1973 is the runner-up. I think the Voice speaks for many readers when we say – please, no, thank you.

There’s no risk of snow this week, though as you’ll see in a moment, you’ll want to have an umbrella handy as over the next several days.

Graphic courtesy of NWS Binghamton.

Your Weekly Weather

Is there really any other way to describe today than beautiful? Virtually cloud-free blue skies and warm air being pumped in from the southeast by the clockwise rotation of a high pressure area over New England will allow temperatures to climb fairly rapidly – most places can expect mid to upper 60s for a high today, warmest day of the month so far and a tad above average for this time of the year (the average high and low for April 23rd are 59 °F and 36 °F respectively). At least the Harold’s Square project downtown, after several weather delays, can finally get its concrete pour underway.

Tonight should also be fairly present, though with no clouds early on, radiational cooling will drop the temperatures quickly, and you’ll want to have a coat. Temperatures will slide into the upper 30s to around 40 for a low, though it should be mitigated a bit as clouds start building in before sunrise.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. Right now, a jet stream cut-off low pressure area is producing some substantially rain over the Lower Mississippi River Valley. This will track northeast and move offshore as Tuesday progresses, and a second disturbance will track in from the Great Lakes. Unfortunately, these will work together to bring some rain, possibly heavy at times, into the region late Tuesday into Wednesday, as well as pull some cooler air down from Canada.

For Tuesday, expect increasing clouds (partly cloudy in the morning mostly cloudy in the afternoon), with highs in the mid 60s. Rain will enter the area by around sunset Tuesday, and continue through the night. With the thick clouds and rain, lows Tuesday night will only fall back into the upper 40s in urban Ithaca, and mid 40s in the outlying areas. There are some differences in the models on the timing of the rain’s onset – the European (ECMWF) suggests rainfall after dark, while the American GFS suggests a few hours earlier, 5-6 PM.

Wednesday will be mild, but wet, as the moisture-heavy low slowly treks northeastward off the coast. Cloudy skies and bouts of rain from sunrise to sunset, only breaking up very late in the day. Highs will be in the upper 50s. Wednesday night will be mostly cloudy, scattered remnant rain showers, and lows n the low 40s as that cool air filters in. Expect rainfall amounts from Tuesday night to Wednesday night to total 0.5″ – 1″, with locally higher amounts (1.5″) possible.

Thursday is the coldest day of the week as that cold air wraps in around the slow-moving low, but it won’t be a terrible day weather-wise. Expect mostly cloudy skies, an isolated shower or two, and highs in the mid 50s. Thursday night will see decreasing clouds and a low in the upper 30s.

Friday is a rebound day. Sunny, a few patchy clouds likely, and highs in the low 60s. Friday night will be mostly cloudy and around 40 °F. Another storm system looks to be moving in for the weekend will rain and below-normal temperatures in the mid 50s and upper 30s overnight, but we’ll see how that evolves as the week advances. All in all, a wetter than normal week again, but with temperatures around normal.

Graphic courtesy of the NOAA Climate Prediction Center

Extended Outlook

There’s some divergence on what’s expected to happen in the longer-term for the end of April and early May. The NOAA Climate Prediction Center is going with a cold solution, basically a trough in the jet stream in the wast, a big ridge in the west.

However, the staff at the NWS Binghamton office note that the forecast model runs have recently been suggesting a big warmup for next week – to quote their latest forecast discussion and commentary, “(t)here is a glimmer of Spring on the horizon as most models have the polar jet (stream branch) shifting well to the north next week and the strongest push of warm air this season…with temperatures well above average.” The models are indeed suggesting 70+ °F warmth in early May, but it’s too early to make a firm call either way.

Brian Crandall

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