ITHACA, N.Y. — If you’ve outdoor plans waiting in the wings, this week would be a good time to follow through on them. High pressure will be in control for much of the week ahead, with high temperatures comfortably in the 60s or low 70s. A cold front will sweep through late week, but next weekend will still be decent for March. We don’t get pleasant weather often, folks, take advantage of it when it’s here.

Your Weekly Weather

It is a mild and pleasant Sunday afternoon in the Southern Tier as high pressure over the Atlantic Ocean remains in firm control of the local weather. As air rotates clockwise around high pressure systems in the Northern Hemisphere, this means we’re on the southerly western (rear) flank, so abundant mild air is being advected northward from the Carolinas and Bermuda. A pair of systems will jostle the high in the next few days, but it is not likely to move much until later in the week, meaning day after day of stable atmospheres and mild temperatures.

Now, I’d be remiss in pointing out that this is a little worrying in that the precipitation deficit has continued to grow over the past few weeks, enough that the United States Drought Monitor has identified growing areas of abnormal soil dryness and mild drought across the Northeast. We’re not at a stage for real concern yet, but it is something to keep an eye on, as there isn’t really a substantial wet period in the forecast in the next ten days.

For the rest of your Sunday, enjoy the mostly clear skies, low humidity and comfortable temperatures. Highs will top out in the mid 60s with a light southerly wind. Tonight is near optimal conditions for radiative cooling, thanks to clear skies, low humidity, and very little wind to agitate the air. As a result, it’ll cool off quickly, with lows in the upper 20s across Tompkins County, and low 30s closer to Ithaca’s urban core and the lakeshore.

Monday will be another pleasant day for Ithaca and vicinity as the high maintains its hold on the Southern Tier. It will be a sunny day with highs in the mid 60s. With dewpoints in the 20s, be sure to take in how blue the sky will be with so little water vapor near the surface to dilute it. Monday will have a few clouds as an Atlantic Ocean low pressure system pushes into the high from the south, injecting some atmospheric moisture into its overall flow. This is a slightly less optimal situation for cooling because the clouds serve as patchy insulation, and so lows Monday night will be in the mid 30s.

Tuesday sees the high take on a more southwest-to-northeast orientation, so the wind will be more from the southwest than the south. This will inject a little more humidity into the air due to storms firing off over the Depp South, but it will still be a pleasant day up here, with a few passing clouds and highs in the mid 60s. That additional humidity also slows down the air’s ability to cool off (water vapor heats up and cools off about more slowly than dry air), so it’ll be partly cloudy skies Tuesday night with milder lows in the mid 40s.

Wednesday will see a little more energy injected to the southerly flow as a low pressure system pushes against the high from the west. This is a fairly large and strong low, but it’s going to go around the ridge in the jet stream and pass over the Western Great Lakes into Canada. With this additional energy, we can’t fully write off an isolated light rain shower or two, but most areas will remain dry with partly to mostly cloudy skies. The enhanced southerly flow will bring temperatures up a little further, into the upper 60s with maybe a few 70°F readings possible. Wednesday night will see mostly cloudy if dry conditions, and overnight lows in the low 50s.

Thursday will see that low pass well to the north, but a second system will develop over Texas and head northeastward into the Ohio River Valley. This will help advect mild air northward prior to the storm’s arrival, and for the daylight hours Thursday it should stay dry, with partly to mostly cloudy skies and highs in the low 70s. Rain showers will begin to move in after sunset, with more persistent rain bands after midnight Thursday night, so expect a wet night with overcast skies, occasional rain and lows in the low 50s.

Friday will be a showery day, and while there will be a southerly breeze, the mostly cloudy to overcast skies will keep it cooler, with highs in the mid 60s. The low will actually pass to the west and north, over Ohio and then crossing Ithaca’s longitude after crossing the border into Canada. However, this is close enough to its core that the counterclockwise circulation of the low should be able to wrap in and advect colder air in its western (rear) flank once it crosses Ithaca’s longitude, likely during the overnight hours Friday. Winds will shift from southwest to west and then northwest by morning, as showers taper off after midnight and mostly cloudy skies prevail Saturday morning with lows in the low 40s.

Saturday and Sunday will be cooler, but still a little above average for late March. Plan for mid 50s and mostly sunny skies both days, with maybe a few showers Sunday; models suggest a weak storm to the south will transfer energy and help create a strong coastal storm that could result in a stormy, chilly start to next week before high pressure and milder air returns.

Graphics courtesy of the NOAA Climate Prediction Center.

Extended Outlook

Looking ahead into the start of April, the large-scale pattern generally favors a high-amplitude jet stream trough over the Great Plains and Northwest, with ridges over California and the East Coast, meaning above normal temperatures are favored. This pattern may potentially pump some moisture in from the Gulf of Mexico to feed precipitation development, resulting in slightly above-normal chances for precipitation over the end of March – start of April time period.

Brian Crandall

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