ITHACA, N.Y. — November is typically one of Ithaca’s cloudiest months, as well as being the usual meteorological onset of winter, as temperatures start to get cold enough for the threat of lake effect or coastal snowstorms. However, this week, fortune smiles upon the land of gorges, with generally dry conditions with ample sunshine and temperatures well above normal before a cool down next weekend.
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There’s no doubt about it – October was wet and warm by our Northeast standards. In fact, according to the Northeast Regional Climate Center, every single one of its 35 first-order meteorological stations from Maine to West Virginia recorded a top 10 warmest October on record, with twenty of those recording a top 3 warmest, and six with their warmest October on record – Scranton, Harrisburg, Williamsport, Newark, Dulles Airport, and Syracuse, whose average temperature was an impressive 7.7°F above normal. For as high as that sounds, the temperature drops so fast in October that it’s like getting an extra two weeks of late September, which is not shabby all things considered.
At the Dryden Game Farm Road weather station, the average temperature for October was 6.7°F above normal for an average October temperature of 55.7°F, which is good enough for fourth-warmest in the 128 years of local weather recording. In case you’re wondering, the three warmest years were 1947 (57.7°F), 1900 (57.2°F), and 2007 (56.2°F) respectively.
This was largely achieved through warmer overnight lows than daytime highs, as overnight lows were 8.2°F in October, which for many areas resulted in a much later than usual hard frost (anecdotally, my backyard wildflowers didn’t die from frost until this past week, when normally they meet their demise around the middle of October). Game Farm Road, which is a little cooler than Ithaca’s urban core, didn’t even go below freezing in October. The last time that happened was 1971.
The primary reasons for those warm overnights were clouds and moisture – it rained a lot in October, as the flooding at the end of the month can attest. Locally, the total was 7.35″, nearly twice above the normal of 3.70″ of rain. That was fourth-wettest on record, behind 1981 (8.36″), 1955 (8.15″), and 1943 (7.49″), all of which experienced major flooding as well.
As precipitation data tends to go, there was more variation in the regional map. 28 of the 35 first-order weather stations were above normal, with five having a top ten wettest October, including Syracuse, with its third-wettest October on record. However, if one was in Northern New England or Southern Pennsylvania, October was drier than normal.
Coming off of that very warm, very wet October, November has cooled down to more seasonable levels, in fact it’s starting off on the cold and dry side. However, this upcoming week’s more mild temperatures should brings overall temperatures closer to normal if not above-normal, with little new precipitation expected as Tompkins County attempts to dry out.
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It’s a cold and quiet night in Tompkins County as high pressure over the Appalachian Mountains continues to keep skies clear and limit the westward expansion of the coastal low’s cloud shield. That low is also preventing the high from progressing eastward, leaving it largely in place for the next couple of days. Expect a mostly clear night tonight with lows in the low to mid 30s in urban Ithaca and along Cayuga Lake, with upper 20s in the higher elevations and outlying areas.
Monday will be a pleasant day as the high pressure spins in place. On the backside of its clockwise flow, winds will be out of the southwest, and temperatures will warm considerably, into the mid 60s for highs with mostly sunny skies. Some clouds may build in off of the Great Lakes late Monday night into Tuesday morning, but it will remain dry and partly cloudy with lows in the upper 30s and low 40s closer to the lakeshore.
Tuesday will be another pleasant day as the high remains centered over the Southern Appalachians, with a few passing clouds, thicker as the day progresses, a more westerly wind, and highs in the low 60s. A weak storm system should pass to the north of the high Tuesday night into Wednesday, and this is likely to usher in a weak cold front. Expect mostly cloudy skies overnight with a few rain showers after midnight, with lows in the mid 40s.
Any showers remaining in and around Tompkins County will dissipate by sunrise Wednesday, and the day will host decreasing clouds, with mostly sunny skies by later afternoon, and highs in the upper 50s. Wednesday night will see some clouds build back in as the high taps some oceanic moisture and wraps that into its flow, but it will remain dry with overnight lows Wednesday in the upper 30s.
A warm front will pass through Ithaca and Tompkins County ahead of a strong low pressure storm system building over the Upper Midwest. It will be dry and breezy during the day, with a strong southerly breeze as the counterclockwise-circulating low and the clockwise-circulating high work in tandem, resulting if mostly cloudy skies and highs in the low 60s. Thursday night will start off dry, but skies will turn overcast and rain showers are expected after midnight. The rain and thick cloud cover will keep overnight lows in the mid 50s, 20 degrees above normal.
A smaller secondary low pressure area is likely to split from the very large storm over the Upper Midwest, and this will complicate the forecast for Friday. It does look like Tompkins County will remain in the warm sector during the daytime hours, allowing highs in the low 60s with near-overcast skies and periods of rain during the day. The rain will continue during the overnight hours Friday into Saturday ahead of the cold front, which won’t sweep through until daybreak Saturday. Lows Friday will be in the mid to upper 40s.
Saturday and Sunday will be cooler, particularly Sunday as cold air pours into the region behind the cold front. The models show near-freezing temperatures down to Arkansas and Tennessee during the week, a storm of this size and strength can draw in a lot of cold air from the Arctic. However, in the Northeast, we’ll be further away from the enormous but weaker low slowing spinning northeastward towards Hudson’s Bay, and the air will have moderated. Expect unsettled, mostly cloudy days both Saturday and Sunday, with highs in the mid 50s Saturday and upper 40s Sunday. Lows will be in the mid 30s. There is no real possibility of snowfall in the forecast for this week.
The medium-range pattern shows near to slightly-below normal temperatures for mid-November and near normal precipitation. The simple explanation is that gigantic low that will develop mid-week; as it enters Canada towards Hudson Bay, the backside of its counter-clockwise flow will funnel cold air south and southeastward, into the Deep South. The Northeast is spared for at least this time period because it’s too far east, and the storm will move further north and further away as it moves east. Meanwhile, the desert Southwest can expect warmer and drier than normal conditions.