ITHACA, N.Y. — For those of you hoping for a mild late autumn, this isn’t your year. Repeated cold shots over the next week will keep temperatures well below normal, and a couple degrees will make all the difference this week between yet another November soaker and a wintry mess.
The above plot, courtesy of the Northeast Regional Climate Center, shows that all things considered, the first part of November wasn’t so bad, temperature-wise. However, in the past few days, a cold weather pattern has taken hold, as a deep trough the jet stream allowed frigid Canadian air to flow into the Central and Eastern United States, producing unseasonable cold as far south as Texas and Florida.
The flip side to that coin is the persistent ridge in the jet stream over the Western United States, funneling warmer, drier poleward. That might sound great, but it’s a major player in the deadly wildfires that have plagued California over the past several days – that ridge helps create the air pressure differences needed to form and strengthen Santa Ana winds, as well as the hot, dry conditions that have turned California into a veritable tinderbox.
Unfortunately for both sides, the week ahead is looking to be a similar setup, with at least two storms passing over the area in the next few days. At least today should be quiet.
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Some folks have today off, and at least by November standards, it should be fairly decent. An area of high pressure over New England is producing some milder southerly flow on its trailing edge, which is allowing temperatures to climb a little higher than they did over the weekend, and the relative stability in the atmosphere is allowing for some sunny skies early, although clouds will build in later in the day as the next storm system approaches. Highs will be seasonably cool, in the mid 40s.
Tuesday’s storm is a coastal low, which will strengthen off the Virginia coast before tracking northeastward along the eastern seaboard. This is looking like an all-rain event for most. A snow shower or two may precede the storm before the rain starts in earnest around midnight tonight, with lows in the upper 30s. However, those in higher elevations, especially those to the east of Ithaca, may see up to a couple inches of wet snow thanks to cooling of the atmosphere by the falling precipitation, and not enough time and height left for it to change back to rain. Be mindful if driving to Cortland or Binghamton tonight or tomorrow morning.
For the rest of us, the rain will continue through the overnight and into the mid-morning, so expect a wet commute. As the storm moves further away, the rain will become more scattered, but cold air will be dragged in behind the low, and snow showers are likely after sunset. Tuesday will be cold and cloudy, with highs in the upper 30s, decreasing as the cold air begins to advect into the region. Tuesday night will be mostly cloudy with scattered snow showers and lows in the mid 20s.
Wednesday will be a fairly unpleasant, unseasonably cold day. With a stiff northwest wind and polar air charging into the region, temperatures will barely make it past 32 °F in the Ithaca area, and will fail to break freezing in most other parts of the county. Wind chills will make it feel like temperatures are in the low 20s for most of the day. Skies will be partly cloudy, but snow showers will be present, and those heading north will have to deal with the lake effect snow machine off of Ontario. Wednesday night will see the winds calm and snow showers come to an end as high pressure moves in, with partly cloudy skies and a low in the mid 20s.
Thursday will still be unseasonably cold, but winds will be light and temperatures should make into the upper 30s under partly cloudy skies, with cloud cover increasing and thickening as the day progresses.
Thursday night into Friday is a complex event. Another coastal will develop off the Southeast coast, like Tuesday’s storm. However, there’s more cold air in the area for this storm, lows will be in the low to mid 30s. That means we’re looking at the possibility of a rain event, or several inches of snow, and it’s dependent on how mild the air is, and how thick that column of milder air is. At this point, either scenario is possible, but the models are still resolving the most likely outcomes, and the margins between steady rain and heavy snow are very thin, which makes forecasting very difficult. For now, be aware that significant snow is possible Thursday night into Friday morning. But don’t hang your hat on that forecast, keep an eye out for updates.
In either case, temperatures should warm up during the day Friday to be all-rain during the day. Highs will be in the low 40s with rain tapering off in the late afternoon. Friday night will be mostly cloudy, some scattered rain showers changing over to snow showers, and lows in the low 30s.
The weekend is looking brisk, as another trough in the jet stream allows polar air to settle into the region, with the owrst of it passing through Sunday. Saturday will be mostly cloudy with a few scattered rain and show showers, and highs around 40. Saturday night will be mostly cloudy and in the mid 20s, and Sunday will be another day where the thermometer struggles to break 32 °F, with a few snow showers and otherwise partly cloudy skies.
The cold pattern is expected to continue, into Thanksgiving week, although some moderation is possible in the second half of the week, including Turkey Day itself. The pattern of a persistent jet stream trough in the east and a ridge in the west is expected to shift somewhat eastward as the month continues, but not enough to really give us a warm spell under that ridge. For what it’s worth, early indications are for an abnormally dry spell during that time as well, which bodes well for those traveling for the holiday.