ITHACA, N.Y. — The start of the week will have a decidedly spring-like feel, with mild temperatures and sunny skies to brighten your mood. However, if you have outdoor activities to take care, Monday and Tuesday will be the days to do them, as a wetter and colder pattern works its way in for the second half of the week, and arguably for much of the month ahead.
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It’s been a cloudy if dry Sunday, thanks to enhanced instability associated with an area of low pressure over eastern Quebec. While the frontal boundary isn’t quite that strong this far south, and the air aloft is only mildly unstable, it’s enough to create some persistent grey skies, with a few widely scattered showers through Upstate New York. Temperatures are a touch on the mild side for this time of year, with highs across the county ranging from the mid to upper 50s, warmer in your usual urban valley locations and cooler on the hills.
As this system continues to move eastward the clouds should begin to clear out in earnest. Sunday night will be quiet, with a light northwest wind helping to break up the cloud cover as skies go from mostly cloudy in the late evening to partly cloudy by midnight, with only a few remnant patches by daybreak Monday. The dry conditions and clearing skies will allow for some substantial diurnal cooling, with lows in the mid 30s.
Monday will be a very pleasant day for early April as high pressure shifts westward into the Southern Tier. Stable air and a light northwest wind will result in a mostly sunny and seasonably mild day, with highs in the upper 50s. Clouds will begin to build back in as the high pressure shifts eastward late Monday, channeling less stable air from the south within its clockwise flow. Monday night will be partly to mostly cloudy, and with that light southerly wind, temperatures will only drop back into the upper 30s to around 40°F.
Tuesday will be mostly cloudy as a weak pulse of atmospheric instability (short wave) passes over Ohio and Pennsylvania. We’ll miss the brunt of the precipitation, but a few isolated showers are possible, especially south of Ithaca during the mid and late afternoon hours. Temperatures will make it into the low 60s as that light southerly breeze hangs around for the day.
While we miss the first storm system, we will not miss the second, a more organized area of low pressure moving westward across the Great Lakes. This should arrive into Ithaca and Tompkins County by Tuesday evening. Expect light rain showers ahead of the low to kick off right around sunset Tuesday, with more persistent if light rain developing during the early hours of Wednesday morning. The overcast skies and rain conditions will keep overnight lows on the mild side, in the mid 40s for most communities. Precipitation totals will be between one-tenth and one-quarter of an inch.
Wednesday morning will start off wet and cloudy as light rains persist during the morning hours, but as the system quickly pushes eastward, the precipitation should begin to wind down during the afternoon hours, with mostly cloudy skies behind the low. Highs Wednesday will be in the upper 50s to low 60s.
It would be great if that were it for storms this week, but unfortunately, it’s only the beginning of a longer pattern. Another near-surface low pressure storm storm moving in Wednesday night into Thursday morning will become stacked (integrated) with an upper-level low over Canada shortly after passage. This vertically deep system will be difficult to dislodge, and we’ll be stuck in the cold sector of that combined system. Its large areal coverage and unstable air mass will create a hub-and-spoke pattern for precipitation, as weak waves move counterclockwise in its flow, and across our region. In short, a cool, unsettled pattern. Wednesday night will start off mostly cloudy, but the first showers of that next system will move in after midnight, with lows in the lower 40s.
Thursday really isn’t looking like a nice day. It will be mostly cloudy with periods of rain, it will be cooler with highs right around 50°F, and the winds will be gusting up to 30 MPH our of the west-northwest. This low ushers in enough cold air that Thursday night could even see some rain showers change over to snow showers during the AM hours, though no significant accumulations are expected. Lows will be in the mid 30s.
Friday will be cooler if drier, with those hub-and-spoke rain showers coming in from the north and partly to mostly cloudy skies otherwise. Highs will be in the upper 40s. Friday night will be partly cloudy and generally dry except for an isolated rain or snow showers, and lows in the low 30s.
The weekend is looking unsettled as the low slowly drifts southeastward over Atlantic Canada, with scattered rain showers likely on both days, and mostly cloudy skies. Saturday looks to top out in the low 50s, Sunday in the mid 50s. Lows Saturday night and Sunday night will be in the mid to upper 30s.
Nothing encourages people to stay at home more than a fairly large and potent cold wave settling across 90% of the lower 48. Not only that, chances for precipitation will also be enhanced through most of the nation. This is because of a deep and wide trough in the jet stream, with frequent storms sliding into the United States on the leeward (downwind/eastern) side of the Rockies and lingering, since the jet will be too far south to push many of them along and out into the Atlantic. In contrast, that gradient over Alabama and Georgia will be a literal conveyor belt of moisture, so while Florida might be on the warm side, greatly enhanced precipitation is also likely. This pattern will hang around through at least the next two weeks, so if you needed another reason to hunker down, Mother Nature is happy to provide it.