ITHACA, N.Y. — It’s been a frigid start to spring, but keep your fingers crossed – some warm weather might finally be arriving on your doorstep by the end of the week.

State map of winds and air pressure on Wednesday 4/4 at 1900 UTC (3 PM), just as the strongest winds entered Tompkins County. Map courtesy of NYS Mesonet.

Weather Recap

If we’re going to choose two words to describe last week, they’re going to be windy, and cold. The powerful cold front that swept through the region on Wednesday afternoon brought wind gusts of 53 MPH to the Ithaca-Tompkins Airport, with similar strong gusts reported throughout the county. Still, that pales in comparison to the 75 MPH wind gust reported in Batavia in Genesee County, and the 113 MPH gust recorded atop Whiteface Mountain. Thankfully, the impacts to Tompkins County were fairly minor. Less than hundred homes lost power, a drop in the bucket compared to the 100,000 other homes who lost electricity throughout the state (most were in the Buffalo and Rochester area). Trees were uprooted in places, and some tractor trailer were blown onto their sides.

Meanwhile, the other story is the bone-chilling cold we’ve been experiencing as of late. Lows at the airport Sunday morning reached 15 °F, and 16 °F this morning. Surprisingly enough, neither of those appear to be a daily record low. According to the Northeast Regional Climate Center on Cornell’s campus, Sunday’s record low was 12 °F and set back in 1982, and this morning’s record low was 15 °F set back in 1972.

With temperatures running about fifteen to twenty degrees below their climatological highs and lows for early April (about 52 °F and 32 °F respectively) , most folks are probably pining for a bit of relief. It won’t be sudden, but it will come in steady doses as we head through the work week.

500 mb geopotential heights and anomalies for 8 AM Monday morning and 8 AM Friday morning. The maps show the jet stream trough being replaced with an anomalous ridge of warm air late in the week. Maps courtesy of tropicaltidbits.com.

Your Weekly Forecast

We’re starting off the week with partly cloudy if cold conditions. A jet stream trough sits over the Great Lakes, bringing disturbances southeastward over the upper Midwest and then straight across the northeast.  It should cloud over as the day progresses, as a pair of weak disturbances zip along the jet through the Southern Tier, one this evening and one tomorrow morning. Given the generally dry environment and weak instability, neither is expected to amount to much. The first one has less moisture, but has more instability to percolate into cloudiness and precipitation. the second will have more moisture but less instability to work with for cloud and precipitation growth.

For today, expect increasing clouds, light northwest winds shifting to the north, and a high in the low 40s to around 40 in rural areas. Tonight will be cloudy with some scattered light snow showers – little to no accumulations expected. Lows will be in the mid 20s.

Tuesday will start off cloudy, but the grey skies should start breaking up during the afternoon. Expect some scattered light snow showers changing over to rain showers, with a high in the mid 40s.

Tuesday night is where the weather pattern really starts to change. The jet stream wave pattern will shift eastward, and as it does, a ridge of warm air will make its way towards and eventually encompass Ithaca and Tompkins County. That means a big warmup ahead, folks.

Tuesday night will be partly cloudy with lows in the upper 20s to around 30 °F, as that wind shift to the south, while light, prevents further the temperature from getting much lower. By Wednesday, we’re looking at a few clouds or partly cloudy skies, with highs in the low 50s to around 50 °F – in other words, close to normal. Wednesday night will be mostly cloudy with a few showers and lows in the upper 30s, as a weak wave precedes a much better developed rainmaker that will be ushered in on some warm, strong southwesterly flow.

By daybreak Thursday, it will be cloudy with frequent bouts of rain through most of the day. However, it will be appreciably mild – upper 50s F in most places, with a warm southwest breeze. A very spring-like April day. Thursday night should be the rain break up into scattered showers and mostly cloudy skies, and lows around 40 °F.

Friday will be nice! Now firmly under the ridge of warm air, temperatures will soar into the mid and upper 60s under partly cloudy skies. We won’t begrudge you for “calling in sick”. Friday night will be partly cloudy with lows in the upper 40s, and Saturday could hit 70 °F under partly sunny skies. It’s looking to be a great day to be out and about, though another system will move in late Saturday, bringing rain into the region. NWS Binghamton has noted the possibility of heavy rain developing, but it’s too far out to call at the moment. Sunday is looking a bit cooler, but sill in the low to mid 60s.

Extended Outlook

If the NOAA Climate Prediction Center is correct, our time in the sun and warmth will be short-lived. A high wave-number pattern in the jet stream will develop (meaning many troughs and ridges), and a pair of troughs over the United States should put most of the country below normal in terms of temperature during mid-April. At least over North America, the jet stream troughs are expected to be more prominent than the ridges. Europe’s looking nice, FYI.

Brian Crandall

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