ITHACA, N.Y. — Consider this update the combined update on the storm plus the weekly weather forecast. These slow-moving systems are not kind to pre-programmed schedules.
A Winter Storm Warning remains in effect through 5 AM Wednesday morning as the developing Nor’Easter continued to rotate off the coast. As it continues to move northeast, the precipitation shield will shift from southeasterly to easterly as it pinwheels around the core as it moves from the Jersey shore northeastward past Cape Cod. With warmer air and oceanic moisture, the dry air from the weekend high has been thoroughly erased, and snowfall amounts are dependent on where the heaviest bands of snow form, move and linger.
Locally, the precipitation shield has receded to Ithaca’s doorstep, the edge just to the southeast. Other than some embedded squalls between Elmira and Binghamton, noting in the Southern Tier looks particularly heavy on radar. A potent, triangular pocket of intense snow appears to extend from just south of Albany to Poughkeepsie and over to Route 17. This action will continue to shift around as we head through the day tomorrow, which is why the snowfall amounts predicted are as high as they are – this is a slow-moving, multi-day storm that doesn’t shift away from the Southern Tier until Wednesday morning.
So far, the first Tompkins County snowfall reports from NWS-trained observers this evening range from 2″ in Newfield to 6″ in Enfield, with 5″ measured in Ithaca. That’s pretty close to what was expected by this point in the storm. At this point, we’re expecting another 8-12″ in the Ithaca area, with higher amounts east of Ithaca thanks to the smaller snow band that pressed through earlier. For comparison’s sake, New York City’s already had 16″ and is forecast to hit 22″ in Central Park.
Through the rest of tonight, with periods of light to moderate snow interspersed with breaks at the edge of the storm system, expect 4-6″ of new snow by morning with lows around 20°F.
Tomorrow’s primary issue isn’t the snow, of which there will be another 1-3″ during the day in light to moderate showers and cloudy skies otherwise. The issue is the winds, which will be gusting from the northwest at 25-30 MPH on the backside of the low. This will create blowing snow and will make travel treacherous in areas as snow piles could easily be whipped up into white-outs. Highs will be in the upper 20s, though that wind will make it feel like it’s in the mid teens. Tuesday night will see another 2-3″ of snow, likely with some enhancement from Lake Ontario before drier air begins to work in near sunrise Wednesday, finally bringing the frequent snow showers and squalls to an end. Lows Tuesday night will be in the mid 20s – directly behind the Nor’Easter is a high pressure system over the Mid-Atlantic that will steadily churn in milder air from the southwest, which will clash with the northwesterly flow of the departing Nor’Easter and negate any steep temperature drops.
Wednesday will see snow showers in the morning taper off to mostly cloudy skies and dry conditions by later afternoon. Highs will be around 30°F. Under the stabilizing influence of the high, expect mostly cloudy skies Wednesday night with lows in the low 20s.
Thursday should be milder and more pleasant, with partly cloudy skies and highs in the mid 30s. Thursday night may see some snow showers towards sunrise as the next system works its way in, with lows in the mid 20s.
Friday’s storm will be a very different event, as its path is from the Midwest, through the Upper Great Lakes and into Canada. While a strong storm in its own right, being a continental storm means there’s less moisture available to it, and we stay in the warm sector (the southeast side, and since lows spin counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere, that means southerly winds). With temperature topping out around 40°F and most of the precipitation falling in the late morning and early afternoon, this is primarily going to be a rain event. Light to moderate periods of rains should break up into showers by late afternoon, and transition to snow showers by late evening as temperatures head back below freezing. Cooler air will filter in after midnight at the storm stalls to the northwest and the flow shifts from the southwest to the west. Lows Friday night will be in the mid 20s.
Saturday will be cooler and quiet as the storm decays and its remnants are quickly swept to the east-northeast, well to our north. Plan for mostly cloudy skies and highs in the low 30s. Saturday night will be dry and mostly cloudy with lows in the upper teens.
Sunday will be the last seasonable day as an absolutely bone-chilling air mass plunges into the Dakotas and Minnesota and eventually spills out pretty much over the entirety of the continental United States, which we’ll get to in the extended outlook. But a shortwave will be ushered in on the edge of that Arctic air, so some snow showers are likely with mostly cloudy skies and highs in the low 30s. Sunday night will be partly cloudy with lows in the low teens.
There’s no beating around this bush; below-average temperatures will dominate across Alaska and the lower 48 during mid-February, with some moderation possible in Florida and the Desert Southwest by the middle of next week. Temperature will likely be 5-10°F below normal during this time, and being our climatologically coldest part of the year means highs probably in the teens and lows near zero. Precipitation will be near normal for the period.