ITHACA, N.Y. — The Thanksgiving holiday will be coming to a swift end for many travelers this year, as a strong storm system bears down on the Northeastern United States from Sunday morning to Monday evening. A Winter Storm Watch has been issued for all of Tompkins County.

In response to the impending storm, bus charterer OurBus has been rerouting its Ithaca-area travelers to additional Saturday and Monday buses as some Sunday departures are cancelled, and Ithaca College is reopening its dormitories a day early, as reported by Mark Anbinder at (Cornell keeps its dorms open through Thanksgiving Break).

The storm that will be impacting the Southern Tier Sunday and Monday is the same storm that walloped the Pacific Northwest during Thanksgiving, and is currently unleashing widespread heavy snow across Minnesota and the Dakotas. The system will continue to move eastward over the weekend, transferring energy to a developing coastal storm that will then slowly move northeastward on Monday, rapidly strengthening over the warmer ocean waters.

Snow will begin in the 6 – 8 AM time frame Sunday morning, first arriving to communities southwest of Ithaca and moving northeastward. This will be a moderate to heavy burst of 1 – 3 inches, with potential snowfall rates of 1 inch per hour. The initial snow will transition to freezing rain/freezing drizzle and sleet by the afternoon across the Southern Tier, while mainly snow continues to the northeast where colder air is present. The system will move more slowly during the afternoon and evening as it begins to transfer energy to the coastal storm.

Regionally, the areas of highest impact will be the Catskills and the Berkshires, where oceanic moisture and cold Canadian air will produce snowfall amounts of 18 – 24 inches. Travel will be slow, difficult and hazardous on Sunday as ice covers the roads and heavy snow accumulates rapidly over the Thruway/I-90, I-88 and NY-17 corridors to our north and east. If you need to travel to or from Boston or New York, leave today. Heavy snow will fall Sunday morning. This will mix with rain, freezing rain and sleet during the late afternoon, creating an ice glaze. After a potential brief break late Sunday evening, precipitation will resume as a heavy snow of up to 2 inches per hour after midnight. The snow will slowly wind down and taper off Monday morning and afternoon.

The snow in Tompkins County will be significant but generally less, as it will be further from the areas of greatest atmospheric moisture. Expect 6 – 8 inches of heavy, wet snow throughout most of Tompkins County by Monday morning, a little less to the west of Ithaca, a little more to the east.

Graphic courtesy of NWS Binghamton.

For those staying local, use caution if you have to be on the roads Sunday or Monday morning. Mixed precipitation Sunday morning and afternoon will create a glaze of ice and will cause slippery conditions on untreated roads and sidewalks. Moderate to heavy snow Sunday night will make local roads hazardous, and the Monday morning commute will be difficult.

Updates to accumulation of snow and ice will be provided regularly by NWS Binghamton here. This is a complex storm system. Snow and ice amounts are still subject to change.

Brian Crandall

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