ITHACA, N.Y. — March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, or so the old adage goes. It looks to hold true this year, with cool temperatures warming to pleasantly mild highs later in the week, and generally sunny skies for much of the week ahead.

Precipitation, mean sea level pressure and 1000-500 mb thickness (temperature proxy) for 8 AM Wdnesday morning. High pressure overhead will result in sunny skies and calm weather conditions. GFS Model output courtesy

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We’re going to start off the week on a cooling trend, as we shift from the influence of one high pressure system off the Atlantic Coast, to a second system currently centered over the upper Midwest. A weak trough is passing into the region from the north, but with limited moisture and only modest atmospheric instability, it won’t produce much more than some cloudiness and maybe a few isolated snow showers. Temperatures will bottom out in the mid 20s as skies begin to clear up Monday morning.

With the high pressure in control, Monday will be a sunny if cold day for late March. Skies will be generally clear with temperatures topping out in the upper 30s with a light northwest wind. Monday night will host clear skies and a low in the upper teens (elevated areas) to low 20s (lakeside and in urban Ithaca).

Tuesday will be more of the same as the high pressure system moves closer. With generally sunny skies overhead, temperatures will top out in the upper 30s. Tuesday night, the core of the high should be overhead, and its stabilizing effect on the atmosphere will be in full force. With clear skies and calm winds, temperature will be in the upper teens to around 20 °F.

Wednesday will be a change in pace as Tompkins County finds itself on the backside of the high and its clockwise flow. That means milder air being advected in from the south, and temperatures will climb quite a bit higher. Expect a few passing clouds with highs in the low 50s. Wednesday night will be mostly clear with lows in the low 30s.

A low pressure system will be developing over the Mdiwest later in the week, and on Thursday that should result in some increasing clouds, but overall it should be a partly cloudy, dry day. With the counterclockwise flow of the low working tandem with the high to the east, the southerly wind will be somewhat stronger, and highs in the low 60s are expected. For Thursday night, the frontal boundary associated with that low should begin to work into the region, so expect mostly cloudy skies and some scattered rain showers as the system eats away at the dry air aloft. Temperatures Thursday night will settle back into the mid 40s.

The front will linger south of the region for Friday, but being on the weak side, it will still be a fairly okay day, though you’ll want to have an umbrella handy just in case. Expect mostly cloudy skies, some scattered rain showers, and highs once again in the low 60s.

Right now, the weekend is looking potentially unsettled as another storm system works its way into the region from the southwest and along the front. For now, expect scattered mostly cloudy skies and rain showers Saturday and Sunday, with highs in the low 60s for Saturday and low 50s for Sunday. We can’t discount the possibility of some snow on the backside of this storm system, but it’s too early to make any firm forecasts just yet, as the models don’t have a strong grasp of the weekend system at this time and there’s divergence between runs. The speed of the system will play a role, and right now it’s looking warm enough to avoid snow altogether in valley areas.

Graphic courtesy of the NOAA Climate Prediction Center.

Extended Outlook

For the state of April, it’s looking to be fairly seasonable, maybe a little warmer than normal and a little wetter than normal. A trough in the jet stream will be centered over the middle third of the country, but there’s not a lot of warm air bottles up to the north, and so abnormal temperature variations should be fairly limited. The presence of the jet stream will expose the Southern Tier to the prevailing storm track so some more frequent bouts of April showers are to be expected, but if another old adage pans out, we should be in for some lovely floral displays in May.

Brian Crandall

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