ITHACA, N.Y. — As forecast models have shifted to a more intense and northerly track in the growing Mid-Atlantic storm system over the past few days, Ithaca’s chances of a major snowstorm event have increased as well. A Winter Storm Warning has been issued through 7 AM Thursday morning.

NWS Binghamton is now predicting 9″ for the city of Ithaca, with most of the county expected to receive 8-12″ of snow, with up to 18″ possible. Heavy snow is expected to arrive around around 6 PM in Ithaca, overspreading across Tompkins County from the southwest to the northeast – heavy snow will arrive a little earlier in Newfield and communities southwest of Ithaca, and little later in Lansing, Groton and other communities north and northwest of Ithaca. The snow will continue steadily through the night before beginning to wind down between 5 and 7 AM Thursday morning, with scattered showers through the late morning hours Thursday.

Snowfall rates of 2 inches per hour are possible late this afternoon and into the evening hours. Travel may be very difficult to impossible, especially for those passing over hillier terrain south and east of Ithaca. Expect hazardous conditions through the evening and into the Thursday morning commute. Near zero visibility may occur due to blowing snow, and isolated power outages are possible.

Graphic courtesy of the NWS Eastern Region administrative office.

Travel this evening and tonight is strongly discouraged and unnecessary travel should be postponed. Heavy snow is expected through a broad swath of the Northeast, from Philadelphia to New York and Boston, and if your travel plans are for those cities, expect delays. If you must travel, be prepared for heavy snow and rapid accumulations on roadways. Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle, with a flashlight, food and water in case of emergency. Sand, cat litter and rock salt may be useful to provide traction on short but difficult stretches. The latest road conditions can be obtained by calling 5-1-1.

Let’s be candid folks. Most of you have been through this before. Don’t drive on the roads if you don’t have to. Let the plows do their job tonight, and make sure you have shovels and rock salt handy for tonight and tomorrow morning. If you have to drive, make sure it’s in a vehicle capable of handling the snow, try to avoid the steeper streets if you can, and give yourself a lot more time to get to where you need to be. If this sticks around long enough, maybe you’ll get your White Christmas after all.

Brian Crandall

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