Graphic courtesy of NWS Binghamton.

ITHACA, N.Y. — It’s August in Ithaca. True to form, the weather will be dominated by the “three H’s” that make up the traditional end of the late summer pre-student apocalypse – hazy, hot and humid.

Weather Recap

With July in the record books, we can say that it was a bit warmer and bit wetter than usual, but nothing to write home about. The average temperature was 70.5 °F, 1.7 °F above the long-term climatological average according to the Northeast Regional Climate Center, and the total amount of precipitation that fell during the month came in just a hair above average, 3.93″ vs. the usual 3.85″.  In 125 years of July heat records, 70.5 °F come in at 42nd place. For comparison’s sake, the coldest July was 2009 with 65.1 °F, and the warmest July was 1921, at 76.2 °F.

In some ways, we could say Ithaca’s lucked out with avoided extremes. As pointed out last week, Elmira had its wettest month ever recorded, a number that finally tapped out at 12.30″. Meanwhile, Albany is continuing a streak of days at or above 80 °F. The previous record before this year was 29 days in a row. They’re at 39 days in a row as of yesterday, and that’s not likely to stop anytime soon with the latest heat wave settling into the region.

Graphic courtesy of NWS Binghamton.

Your Weekly Weather

At present, a large and strong area of high pressure is situated off the Carolina coast, and its clockwise flow is drawing up large amounts of warm, moist air from the south. As a result, temperatures will be hot and the air will be humid. Many parts of upstate New York, including the shores of Lake Ontario, the Mohawk and Hudson River Valleys, are under heat advisories as the heat index may climb to dangerous highs in those areas. The excessive heat advisory area has been expanded this morning to include Tompkins County, and is in effect from 11 AM – 9 PM. Be aware and plan accordingly – light and light-colored clothing, keep hydrated, stay in A/C or shade if possible, and watch for signs for heat exhaustion.

Definitely take heed if outdoors for an extended period today. Most of the area will be in the low to mid 90s by mid-afternoon through early evening, and a little cooler in rural areas or in the hills. The heat index will be in the upper 90s as the dewpoint reaches 70 °F, meaning muggy, borderline oppressive conditions. There will be hardly any breeze and only a few passing clouds. For tonight, it’ll be rather uncomfortable to sleep with the windows open, as dewpoints stay high and the temperature only drops down to about 70 °F. Clouds will build in overnight as a weak frontal boundary starts to make its way in from the west.

That front will shape the weather for mid-week, as clouds build and thicken on Tuesday, and showers and thunderstorms develop with that additional instability. Rain is likely by mid-afternoon, and with the clouds as thick as they’ll be, temperatures should only make it into the mid 80s. The thunderstorms that form aren’t likely to be severe given plenty of energy in the atmosphere but only marginal shear and vertical lapse rates (a measure of instability), but be mindful of warnings should a severe storm threat develop. For Tuesday night, storms should wind down as the day’s heating subsides, leaving mostly cloud skies and muggy conditions with lows in the upper 60s.

On Wednesday, some atmospheric instability will persist as the front finally pushes through the region during the afternoon. Expect cloudy skies, scattered showers and thunderstorms, and a high in the low 80s. Wednesday night will be modestly cooler and more comfortable, as dewpoints slide back several degrees and temperatures bottom out in the low to mid 60s.

Thursday should be a fairly quiet summer day. A few passing clouds and slightly muggy conditions will persist as temperatures climb into the low 80 in the hills and mid 80s in Ithaca proper. Thursday night will be mostly clear with lows in the low to mid 60s.

Friday is likely to see somewhat higher chances for precipitation as another frontal boundary passes northwestward through the Great Lakes and approaches our region. Expect partly cloudy skies with some isolated showers and highs in the low to mid 80s, partly cloudy skies overnight with some widely scattered showers and lows in the low 60s, and a warm if somewhat dicey weekend with scattered showers and thunderstorms interspersed with otherwise sunny and humid conditions. Highs Saurday and Sunday will be in the low 80s and lows in the low 60s. Overall, the week is looking warmer and a bit wetter than normal.

Image courtesy of the NOAA Climate Prediction Center.

Extended Outlook

For at least the first half of the month, a persistent ridge of high pressure over the eastern third of the country indicates continued above normal temperatures are likely, so the heat won’t be going away just yet. Precipitation is expected to be about normal for the time period. If you had any pre-academic year trips up to the mountains or by the lake planned, the weather is looking pretty good, if a bit on the hot side.

Brian Crandall

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