ITHACA, N.Y. — Dig out the heavy jackets and gloves, because the thermometer will be dipping quite low this week – the coldest since April. You can ask Mother Nature for more warmth, but it’ll giving you the cold shoulder.

Weather Recap

Last week started on the warm side for autumn, even with the rain. Temperatures touched 80 °F at the airport last Wednesday, and conditions were quite mild until the cold front ushered into the region early Friday morning and sent temperatures downward for the remainder of the week.

We’re nearing the peak of fall foliage for our region, a couple weeks later than normal thanks to the recent heat and high humidity. Most hilly or northerly locations in the state are at their peak, and even some parts of the Adirondacks are already past their colorful prime – Whiteface Mountain was dressed in its favorite color this past weekend.

Generally speaking, the damp and mild September we had don’t bode well for amazing eye-popping colors this year. The dampness and heat tend to dull leaf colors, or can cause them to drop before they get a chance to display their terminal brilliance. Fall foliage tends to be picky; too much rain, too little rain, too warm at night, an early snow, any of these factors can cut autumn’s display short or reduce the boldness of the yellows, oranges, and reds that make the waning light of fall just a little more enjoyable.

If you’re looking for the most prototypical fall weather to take in the colors that do flare out in full glory, this will be the week to do it; but you’ll want to bundle up as you take in those fall colors.

Precipitation, mean sea level pressure and 1000-500 mb thickness (temperature proxy) for 8 PM Wednesday evening. A second round of cold air from the northwest will be cool enough to permit the formation of scattered snow showers across the region. GFS Model output courtesy tropicaltidbits.com.

Your Weekly Weather

Monday is going to be the warm day of the week, it seems. On the heels of a warm front, an area of high pressure parked off the Atlantic coast is channeling some milder air in its clockwise flow, so with that southerly breeze, temperatures should warm into the low 60s, just a hair above normal for this time of the year (upper 50s for highs, upper 30s for lows). That air also comes with some low-level moisture that will leave skies gray for most of the day, and the instability of the front in tandem with the moist air will result in some scattered rain showers throughout the area.

That mild air will be short-lived as a cold front comes in from the west around sunset Monday. The winds will shift to a stiff northwest breeze and skies will clear out, and temperatures will fall into the upper 30s in the Ithaca area, and a few degrees colder in the more remote areas and higher elevations. Some patchy frost is possible.

Tuesday will be a cool if sunny day to be outside. Temperatures will only rise into the low 50s under mostly sunny skies, as that northwest wind negates most of the sun’s warming rays. By the time it shifts to a more southwesterly direction, it will be late afternoon or early evening. Overnight Tuesday is looking quiet, partly cloudy skies thickening to mostly cloudy ahead of the next cold front, and temperatures falling into the upper 30s.

Yes folks, there will be two cold fronts this week. Blame it on the two low pressure areas swinging southeastward through Canada, as the trough in the jet stream deepens over the East Coast. Wednesday will be something of a raw, unpleasant day, with mostly cloudy skies, scattered showers, and a strong northwest wind after that front comes through mid-morning. Temperatures will only get into the upper 40s. Wednesday night will be mostly cloudy and temps will hover right around 32 °F with a likely wind chill in the mid 20s, and we can’t write off the possibility of a snow flurry or two before daybreak Thursday.

An area of high pressure crossing the Ohio River Valley and into the Mid-Atlantic will give us a modest reprieve as it heads eastward, providing some warm air advection for Thursday and especially Friday. Thursday will see most of the clouds clear out and the winds start to back into the southwest again, and temperatures top out in the upper 40s. Thursday night will be quiet and chilly, with just a few passing clouds and lows in the mid 30s.

Friday will be substantially warmer with the southwesterly breeze, with temperatures getting into the upper 50s with partly cloudy skies. Friday night will be fairly mild as the week goes, with lows in the low to mid 40s as clouds thicken once again ahead of yet another cold front. The weather is looking unsettled for the weekend, with mostly cloudy skies and scattered rain showers, maybe even a snow shower on the hilltops. Highs will be in the low 50s for Saturday and mid 40s for Sunday, with overnight lows in the mid 30s. Overall, it’s looking to be a rather chilly week.

Image courtesy of the NOAA Climate Prediction Center.

Extended Outlook

For those hoping for another warm spell, it’s not looking good. A deep and stubborn trough in the jet stream will relegate most of the Eastern United States with an enhanced likelihood of below normal temperatures for the remainder of the month, and the epicenter of that is the Northeast. The November outlooks are suggesting a continuation of cool conditions, though the worst of the cold air may actually be over the Southeast by that time. Meanwhile, Alaska and the West Coast should bask in the heat of a pronounced ridge of high pressure, which sounds great, but this is also near the climatological peak of California’s wildfire activity.

Warm season’s over folks, time to pack away those swim trunks and sandals and get the snow shovel and rock salt out of the shed.

Brian Crandall

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