ITHACA, N.Y. — You could say the sun’s making a cameo appearance. Monday and Wednesday will be pleasant enough, but with rain in the forecast for much of the week, the cool, cloudy pattern is set to continue.

Graphic courtesy of the Northeast Regional Climate Center.

Weather Recap

With April in the record books, let’s take a look to see how the months compares to the historic climate record. According to the Northeast Regional Climate Center, from a temperature perspective, the month was 44.8 °F, an almighty 0.1 °F above average. Slightly cooler than normal highs (-0.35 °F) were offset by slightly warmer than normal lows (+0.45 °F). What does this mean in the grand scheme of things? Not much, for all practical purposes this would be considered a “near normal” month, 55th warmest out of 121 valid months in the climate record.

Graphic courtesy of the Northeast Regional Climate Center.

On the precipitation side, the month finished modestly above normal – 3.75″ of liquid or liquid-equivalent precipitation, a little less than a half inch over the normal of 3.29″. That’s a tie for 27th wettest out of 126 years of records (there are some years in the 1920s where they tracked precipitation, but not temperature). Looking at snowfall, April received just 0.1″, which fell on the 1st of the month. That’s well below the average of 3.4″ that we’ve come to expect at the Cornell Game Farm Road weather station during the month of April.

It’s probably safe to call winter done for snowfall barring extreme circumstance (and I will walk down the Commons with a big sign on my back that says “I do the Voice’s weather column, KICK ME” if it snows this May), the total snowfall for the 2018-19 season clocks in at 56.3″, a little below the average of 64″, but not anything to write home about. It’s the 37th least snowy winter out of 99 years with valid seasonwide measurements.

Anyway, we’re off to a cold and wet start this month, and that pattern looks to continue for the most part as we head through the next week, though there will be a couple dry and warm breaks to offer some respite from the unpleasant mid-spring weather.

Graphic courtesy of NWS Binghamton.

Your Weekly Weather

We’re finishing up this weekend with some lingering scattered showers and cloudy skies courtesy of an area of low pressure centered over the Delmarva Peninsula and moving eastward out into the Atlantic. With the departure of this system, high pressure will move into the region during the overnight hours, and the clouds will begin to dissipate as we head towards daybreak. Overnight lows will be in the upper 40s.

Monday will be one of the seemingly rare nice weather days as high pressure builds into the region from the southwest. With ample sunshine during the day Monday and light winds, temperatures should climb up into the low 70s; if you have some errands to run outdoors, Monday would be the day to do it. Monday night will start off dry and partly cloudy, but as a cold front approaches from the northwest, the clouds will thicken and the first showers will begin to move into to communities west of Ithaca by daybreak Tuesday. Lows Monday night will be in the low 50s.

Tuesday will be a return to grey and rain, unfortunately, as the front slowly pushes its way through the region during the day. It’s not looking like there will be enough atmospheric instability to risk severe weather, but you can espect overcast skies with occasional light rain showers between 7 AM and 4 PM (this is very slow moving front – it sags into upstate and is slowly pushed southward by the jet stream aloft) and highs in the low 60s. The showers should taper off by sunset, and clouds will break down Tuesday night. With that cooler air, temperatures will drop down a little colder than usual, with lows around 40 °F.

Behind the front, it will be dry Wednesday but on the cooler side. However, this is early May, so cool here means low 60s and partly cloudy skies, mostly cloudy by sunset. The next system will begin to approach during the night Wednesday, with overcast skies by the AM hours and an increasing chance for showers for the morning commute. With the clouds holding some of the daytime heating in, the lows Wednesday night will be in the mid 40s.

Graphic courtesy of the NOAA Weather Prediction Center.

The forecast for Thursday and Friday does need to be monitored for flood potential. A strong and complex system will be developing over the Southern Great Plains, and by Wednesday will begin to push through the Midwest and towards the Northeast. This system will make the atmosphere quite unstable well ahead of its center, and will also tap into moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. That means Thursday has the potential to be a real soaker, a prolonged period of moderate to heavy rain that could risk flooding in low-lying areas or properties near creeks or the lakefront. We’re talking 1.5-2″ of rain for most areas, with locally higher amounts where stronger rain bands persist and where thunderstorms develop early Friday.

So for your Thursday, get the umbrella and galoshes. It will rain, with the more persistent bands moving in by 8 AM. The rain will be heavy at times. This will continue through the day and into the overnight hours, only beginning to wind down Friday morning after sunrise. Highs Thursday will be around 60 °F, and lows Thursday night will be in the low 50s.

Friday will see the rain become more scattered and broken up, but as the low moves closer to the Southern Tier, it will impart energy into the atmosphere overhead, creating some risk for thunderstorms. It will also channel some warmer air into the region, with highs around 70 °F. By Friday evening, as the cold front sweeps through and the bulk of the rain moves eastward, a few breaks in the clouds will form, and the rain showers should wind down as the low moves northeastward and out of our region. Expect mostly cloudy skies Friday night with a low in the mid 40s.

Looking ahead to next weekend, the early glance suggests Saturday will be pleasant, with partly cloudy skies and highs in the low 60s, partly cloudy skies Saturday night with lows in the mid 40s, and Sunday will be partly cloudy before the next system begins to move in, and highs in the low 60s.

Graphic courtesy of the NOAA Climate Prediction Center.

Extended Outlook

It’s not looking pleasant as we enter mid-May. A strong and persistent blocking high pressure sites over Greenland, and that creates a persistent ridge in the jet stream. This has upstream effect – like flicking a rope up and down, it creates a standing wave-like pattern, with a trough in the jet stream centered over the middle of the North American continent, and in this case it’s aligned in a roughly SW-NE angle. This means sustained cool and wet conditions for much of the Great Plains, Midwest and Northeastern United States is likely.  It’s just wet for us, but for the lower Mississippi Rover Valley and Texas, being on the cusp of the jet stream’s flow puts them at a high risk for flooding over the next two weeks. IF you’re going to vacation, Seattle will be unseasonably warm and dry the next couple of weeks, as will much of the Pacific Northwest.

Brian Crandall

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