ITHACA, N.Y. — You could be forgiven for thinking this is March instead of April. By mid-April, most of us expect to be retiring the heavier coats, and trying to get outdoors even with the recent push for social distancing. But with the brisk, damp April weather we’ve been having expected to continue for much of this week, those thicker coats will be staying out and your cabin fever will likely be exacerbated.

Graphic courtesy of NWS Binghamton.

Your weekly weather

Regionally, it’s a rather interesting Sunday afternoon, as a cold front extending from the core of a Canadian low sweeps across Upstate New York. If you’re in Albany, the SW-NE orientation of the front means you’re enjoying mid 60s and sunny skies before the front comes in late this evening; but in Ithaca, the skies are already overcast with most areas only topping out in the upper 50s.

Rain will be entering Tompkins County shortly as the main band of precipitation pushes in from the north-northwest. Areas northwest of Ithaca will see the rain begin in the next few minutes, while Ithaca can expect an onset of rain closer to 5 PM, and locales south and east of Ithaca will wait another hour. The band is not wide, so expect only 2-4 hours of light rain totaling about one-tenth of an inch. After the passage of the cold front, winds will shift to a light northwesterly breeze, which along with clearing skies, will allow temperatures to fall back substantially overnight, to the mid 30s in Ithaca and low 30s on the hills by Monday morning.

Monday will be dry and quiet a brief bubble of Canadian high pressure keeps our skies mostly clear, though high temperatures will once again be below average, in the low 50s for most of Tompkins County. A fairly potent storm will miss us to the south, but we won’t be so lucky for Tuesday. Clouds will begin to build back into the Southern Tier after midnight, with mostly cloudy to overcast skies by Tuesday morning. Lows Monday night will be in the upper 30s.

Tuesday’s storm is yet another Canadian low pressure system digging southward with a cold frontal trough, and this one looks to be more potent than Sunday’s system. It’s going to be a grey, dreary day; rain should begin to move in from the west shortly after sunrise, with the most significant rains from late morning through mid-afternoon – expect one-quarter to one-half of an inch. Highs Tuesday will be in the upper 40s. The front should pass by late afternoon, but with lingering rain showers (snow showers by evening) and gusty northwest winds behind the front, it will be unpleasant to be outdoors. Tuesday night will see scattered snow showers, likely no more than a dusting in most areas, and brisk northwest winds; lows will be in the upper 20s to around 30°F, but wind chills will make it feel like it’s in the upper teens. The last I checked, it was late April, but the weather keeps acting like it’s mid-March.

The last of the snow showers should dissipate by Wednesday morning, leaving a dry if cold day behind it thanks to an area of high pressure to our southwest. Northwest winds will continue and it will be well below-average for this time of the year, with partly cloudy skies and highs in the mid 40s. Wednesday night will be dry and cold, with partly cloudy skies and lows around 30°F.

As the high pressure shifts eastward Thursday, the winds will shift to the south on the backside of its clockwise flow. That will allow temperatures to rebound, into the mid and upper 50s, but it will also advect more unstable air into the region thanks to another low pressure storm system following behind the high, so plan for mostly cloudy skies and scattered light rain showers. Thursday night will see light to moderate rain and cloudy skies as that low passes to the south; although the bulk of the precipitation will fall over the Mid-Atlantic, the northern precipitation shield should extend into the Southern Tier. Lows Thursday night will be in the low 40s.

Friday will likely be another rainy day as that low shifts northeastward into the Atlantic Ocean, strengthening as it goes. Expect persistent light to moderate rain and a high in the low to mid 50s. Friday night will see the rain subside as the system pulls away to the east. Showers will taper off to mostly cloudy skies, with lows in the upper 30s.

The weekend will start off dry, but it looks like a second storm Sunday will attempt to take the same path as Friday’s storm, with about the same strength. If there’s any silver lining to this, with the initial location of the storms as far south as they are, they can’t really tap into colder Canadian air. Expect partly cloudy skies and upper 50s Saturday, Mostly cloudy and around 40°F Saturday night, and a fresh batch of rain for Sunday with highs in the mid to upper 50s.

Graphic courtesy of the NOAA Climate Prediction Center.

Extended Outlook

If you were hoping for a pattern change anytime soon — don’t. Most models show a continuation of the jet stream ridge in the west and the trough in the east. It also portends stormier than normal continues through early May. We’re stuck in a miserable cold, stormy pattern, while the desert Southwest will have their own misery, as parched conditions and summer-like excessive heat are already building and posing agricultural and health risks. If this were January, this is the kind of pattern folks in Las Vegas or Phoenix would love; but in April, the overarching warmer conditions make the persistent heat dome unpleasant in its own, stifling way.

Brian Crandall

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