ITHACA, N.Y. — If you’re done with the rain (and just about everyone is), well…keep your hopes up for the end of the week. In the meanwhile, we don’t have much of a choice but to grin and bear, as a slow-moving storm system will keep things cool and wet for at least the next couple of days.

Graphic courtesy of the Northeast Regional Climate Center.

Weather Recap

With May 2019 in the books, it looks like it’ll go down in the climate record as a cool, wet month. Temperature wise, the month was modestly cooler than normal, at 54.8 °F, -0.6 °F below the average according to the Northeast Regional Climate Center. In terms or seasonal ranking, it comes in as the 45th coldest out of the 127 Mays in Ithaca’s historic record. For most practical purposes, this would be considered near normal (roughly gauged at plus or minus 1 °F from the normal).

Perhaps more notable is the rain. Not so much the amount, but the presence. By any account, May was a wet month, with 4.85 inches of rain, well above the average of 3.19″ and 18th wettest in the historic climate data. What might be more notable, or annoying if you will, is that there was no particularly rainy day, it just happened to rain almost every day. The maximum single day of rain was 0.84″ on the 14th, but 24 of the 31 days in May had at least a trace of rain fall during the month. Nearly 80% of the month, so you can’t blame this on the Ithaca Festival. If you’ve about had it with the rain, we won’t fault you.

Much of this can be attributed (or blamed, if you prefer) on the dome of intense heat that set itself up over Georgia and North Florida. Those triple-digit temperatures created a bubble of hot air, and since air expands as it warms, it creates a dome that pushes the jet stream poleward. In our case, that meant that the jet stream was overhead, and with it, the prevailing storm track, which tend to follow along the jet stream. Add in another persistent ridge of heat from unseasonably warm waters in the Pacific Ocean, and it creates a stalled out jet and weather pattern.

Between the two ridges was a jet stream trough that created unseasonable cold and storminess over the Western and Central United States, including snow in Denver and rain in California (which typically shuts off in early spring). Plus, thanks to the clash of two very different air masses over the Central United States, and the dynamics and energy were there for multiple tornado outbreaks. At least eight confirmed tornadic storms occurred every day over a 12-day period – the longest such stretch in forty years of observations.

In sum, it’s not just the rain here. It’s the tornadoes in Kansas City, the 105 °F in Jacksonville with the oppressive humidity, the snow in Denver, and the flooding in Tulsa. Everyone is worn out. Which is why a potential pattern change later this week is so heartily welcomed.

Your Weekly Weather

Starting off this week will be a rather strong area of low pressure spinning over Quebec, and slowly trudging northeastward. With its strong counterclockwise flow, temperatures will be well below normal for Monday, and in fact, because it’s a strong, deep system, it will channel colder air down at its core and possibly bring snow to areas near Ottawa. But it won’t be that cold here, thankfully.

Tonight, with the front having moved through the region, things should steadily cool off as the clouds break up and radiational cooling gets underway. Temperatures will drop into the low 40s under mostly clear skies. Monday will be blustery and cold for June, as Tompkins County remains under the influence of the low to the northeast. It’ll be dry in most areas and partly cloudy, but winds may gust up to 30 MPH as a blustery northwest wind remains in place until the evening hours. Temperatures will only top out in the upper 50s in most communities, 10-15 degrees below normal for this time of the year. The winds will calm down for Monday night, which happens to be optimal for more radiational cooling (agitated air is harder to cool off). Temperatures will drop to around 40 °F under mostly clear skies, with some 30s likely on the hilltops and in outlying areas.

On Tuesday, high pressure briefly build in from the south during the morning hours, but a warm front will sweep through west to east during the late afternoon, and yes, there’s a good chance of rain during the late afternoon and evening hours. Highs will get up into the mid 60s as mostly sunny skies give way to mostly cloudy skies and scattered showers during the PM hours. Some showers will linger Tuesday night as partly cloudy skies prevail across the region, and with the front past, southeast winds will keep temperatures in the mid 50s for lows.

Wednesday will be a bit unsettled as the southerly wind brings moisture and some instability to the atmosphere, so a late day pop-up shower or thunderstorm in likely. Otherwise, expect partly cloudy skies and highs in the mid 70s. A weak cold front will swing through during the overnight hours, but this doesn’t change the temperature so much as it dries out the atmosphere. Some showers are likely before midnight, with mostly skies otherwise and lows around 60 °F.

Thursday is…well, we can’t say dry because there may be some lingering showers early. But certainly by afternoon, as high pressure pushed in from the Midwest, it will be decreasing clouds and pleasant with highs in the mid 70s. Thursday night will be partly cloudy with a low in the mid 50s.

It’s looking downright lovely from Friday through the weekend. If you have outdoor plans you’ve been putting off, now is the time to take advantage. With high pressure in place and persistently in place thanks to a blocking pattern with the jet stream over the Atlantic Ocean, Friday, Saturday and Sunday are all looking to be mostly sunny with highs in the mid to upper 70s, and overnight lows in the mid 50s under partly cloudy skies. It doesn’t get much better than that, folks.

Graphic courtesy of the Climate Prediction Center.

Extended Outlook

Looking into mid-June, forecast models are suggesting a persistent trough over the Mountain West and Central United States, with potential incursions into the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. A ridge will lap at the west coast and warm air trapped under the trough in the west will be confined to the southern United States, resulting in warmer-than-normal conditions there. But generally, expect near normal temperatures, while precipitation is looking to be near or slightly below normal for the period.

Brian Crandall

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