ITHACA, N.Y. — Enjoy the good weather while it lasts, because you’ll need an umbrella handy for most of the work week. A late week cold front will bring very comfortable and sunny conditions in time for next weekend.

Graphic courtesy of the Northeast Regional Climate Center.

Weather Recap

Here’s something we haven’t seen often this year – a month where the average temperature was substantially warmer than normal. July 2019 clocked in at 71.1 °F, 2.3 °F above average. That was good enough for the 34th warmest July in Ithaca in the 127 years of valid records, according to the data provided by the Northeast Regional Climate Center (NRCC).

Even then, Ithaca was one of the comparatively cool spots with respect to the rest of the Northeast. The NRCC reports that 32 of the 35 major climatology sites reported a July that was in their top 20 warmest on record, 22 sites had average temperatures that have joined their top 10 warmest, and Hartford, Boston and Portland Maine recorded their #1 warmest on record.

Image courtesy of the Northeast Regional Climate Center.

On the precipitation side, the NRCC’s Game Farm Road site in Dryden came in just a hair below normal – 3.72″, vs. the usual 3.83″. For all practical purposes, that would be called “near normal”. Generally speaking, most of Upstate New York was on the dry side, with Buffalo the driest major city, receiving just over half of its usual 3.14″ of July rainfall.

August is off to a slightly cooler and drier than normal start, but we’ll have a chance to make up some of our short-term precipitation deficit with the unsettled weather coming into our region for the middle of the week. It looks like, for better or worse, that the weekly average will be a touch on the cool side, though a couple warmer if muggy summer days are in the cards.

Your Weekly Weather

With Saturday’s cold front now well to the south and an area of high pressure centered over the Western Great Lakes, we’ll end the weekend and start off the week sunny and mild. Stargazers will appreciate the mostly clear skies tonight, though those out in the early hours of the AM may want a jacket – temperatures will bottom out in the low 50s in the urban core and close to the lake, and perhaps a few upper 40s on the hill tops and in communities further from Cayuga Lake. Some fog is likely in the valleys, and it may be dense in spots, so use caution and budget a couple extra minutes if you plan on driving tonight.

Tomorrow should by any account be a pleasant summer day. Highs will reach into the mid 80s under sunny skies and with dewpoints staying in the comfy 50s for most of the day. Clouds will slowly begin to build in late Monday night into Tuesday morning ahead of the next rainmaker, with mostly clear skies growing progressively cloudier as the night goes on, and lows in the low 60s.

Tuesday will be a few degrees warmer, into the upper 80s with a strengthening southeast wind as we enter the warm sector of the incoming area of low pressure. Between that and an inverted atmospheric trough to the south (inverted just means decreasing pressure from north to south) providing further instability, some pop-up showers and thunderstorms are likely during the afternoon and evening hours. These are not likely to be severe, but could produce some gusty winds and downpours. It will be on the muggy side Tuesday, with mostly cloudy skies in-between storm cells. Some of those cells will weaken as the heat of the day winds down and we head into night time, but with the encroaching front, a good number of showers and a few non-severe thunderstorms will persist, with mostly cloudy skies otherwise and a low in the mid 60s.

Wednesday will see the front pass through the Southern Tier, and that looks to be our wettest day of the week. Expect rounds of non-severe thunderstorms from late morning to early evening (say, 10 AM – 7 PM), mostly cloudy and muggy conditions otherwise, and a high in the low 80s. Rainfall amounts will be between one quarter and one half of an inch. Wednesday night will host some lingering showers, with mostly cloudy skies becoming partly cloudy towards Thursday morning, and a low in the low 60s.

As luck would have it on Thursday, a reinforcing cold front will come in behind Wednesday’s front – not particularly unusual meteorologically speaking, but with that injection of atmospheric instability due to frontal lift (incoming denser, cooler air forcing warmer air upward), it means Thursday will be an unsettled day as well. Plan for scattered showers and thunderstorms ahead of the front, partly cloudy skies otherwise, and a high in the low to mid 80s. Thursday night should see the bulk of the low pressure system pass and winds shift to the northwest, allowing for some stabilization of the atmosphere and some genuine clearing of the local skies, with decreasing clouds overnight and a low around 60 °F.

Friday is looking good. With the northwest breeze and nascent high pressure, temperatures will noticeably cooler, but it will be sunny and comfortable, with highs in the mid to upper 70s. Friday night will be partly cloudy with a low in the upper 50s.

The weekend is looking like a great one to be outdoors. Saturday and Sunday are both expected to be sunny with highs in the mid to upper 70s, and with mostly clear skies at night with lows in the mid 50s.

Graphic courtesy of the NOAA Climate Prediction Center.

Extended Outlook

Looking into the middle of the month, it appears a cool spell is in the cards, as that high pressure coming in for Friday onward hangs around for a few days. Temperatures in the mid 70s are pleasant, but also a good 5-7 °F below normal for this time of the year, so comparatively speaking, yes it’s abnormally cool. This strongly zonal (west-east) cool pattern is expected to persist but weaken as the weak goes on and warmer air begins to build in again from the southwest. Meanwhile, central Texas will bake in triple-digit heat, which Ithaca Voice Editor alumna and current San Antonio journalist Jolene Almendarez can keep down there as far as this writer’s concerned.

Brian Crandall

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