ITHACA, N.Y. — for those returning from their holiday trips tomorrow, conditions could be rather dicey as a storm system deposits mixed precipitation across the higher elevations of the region, leaving an icy coating on untreated surfaces. The weather is calmer mid-week, with a quiet New Year’s Eve as we say goodbye and good riddance to 2021, and welcome the start of 2022 with cautious hope.
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Scattered light rain showers have turned over to snow and are tapering off across the region as this weekend’s storm system continue to move east. Canadian high pressure will have a tenuous hold tonight, with some lake effect possible south and southwest of Lake Ontario as the high’s clockwise flow passes over the relatively warm lake water and destabilizes from the heat energy. But for Tompkins County, tonight should be fairly quiet, with the snow showers winding down over the next few hours, leaving mostly cloudy skies and lows in the mid 20s with light winds.
Monday will be a complicated because there are two lows moving eastward, and they will merge into the same system over the course of the day. The southern low (forming over the central Great Plains) appears to get absorbed by the northern low (which forms over the Upper Midwest), with a northwest-southeast frontal boundary draping across the Great Lakes and Northeast as that northern low rides along the boundary eastward.
What this means weather-wise is that what the warm frontal boundary of the lows will ride over the colder air near the surface – resulting in a wintry mix from about noon through sunset, with warmer air working its way down closer to the ground and transitioning to a cold rain by evening. Areas closer to the lake, which won’t be as cold to start, will likely stay warm enough to avoid ice accumulation altogether, but the hilltops, and especially east of Ithaca on I-81 or I-88, you’ll want to travel with caution, as ice will likely be building up on untreated surfaces, and travel could be hazardous in some spots.
Highs Monday will be in the mid 30s in the valleys, and closer to 32°F further east ahead of the warm front, and in higher elevations locally. New snowfall will be less than an inch, and new rainfall less than one-tenth of an inch. Rain will change over to snow late Monday evening as the system continues eastward, tapering off a little after midnight, leaving cloudy skies and drier conditions with lows in the mid 30s.
With some remnant milder air behind the low, Tuesday will be warmer, with highs in the mid 40s. A storm system will approach from the southwest during the late afternoon and evening hours, so it will remain cloudy throughout the day, with a few rain showers in the afternoon and evening, followed by a more substantial rain in the 8 PM – 2 AM timeframe, between one-tenth and one-quarter of an inch, and overcast skies. The rain will shut down by around sunrise. Lows Tuesday night will be in the mid 30s.
Wednesday will be mild, with clouds beginning to break up later in the day as the storm system splits into a Canadian core and remnant rain to the south and east, leaving a gap over the Southern Tier. Expect dry and cloudy conditions, with highs in the upper 40s. Wednesday night will be dry and quiet, with mostly cloudy skies and lows in the low 30s.
The models are in some disagreement with Thursday and Friday, but have trended drier overall in the past few runs. For now, we’re sticking with the NWS consensus with a drier solution, but we can’t rule out some rain/snow mix building in from the south late Thursday night into Friday. Plan for partly to mostly cloudy skies and highs in the low 40s Thursday, with mostly cloudy to overcast skies overnight with lows in the low 30s.
New Year’s Eve / Friday is looking dry for the time being, with partly cloudy skies thanks to a high pressure system over Quebec channeling light southerly winds over Tompkins County. Highs will be in the low 40s. A weak shortwave will pass to the north Friday night, so a few flurries will be possible as the ball drops, but nothing major is expected. Skies will be mostly cloudy with lows in the upper 20s.
The weekend is looking unsettled as a large and powerful storm system looks to sweep across the eastern half of the country, making its way into Upstate New York Saturday evening through Sunday. Highs will make into the low 40s ahead of the storm, but Saturday evening could be a messy mix of rain turning to snow as temperatures fall into the upper 20s, and then back to rain Sunday as they rebound into the mid 30s. We’ll want to keep an eye on this for any major travel disruptions, but suffice it to say, don’t make big plans outdoors next weekend.
Here’s something we haven’t seen in a while – a large-scale cold pattern. The mid-latitude jet stream which shift equatorward, allowing for widespread cold air intrusions from the Arctic to press into the northern two-thirds of the country, as well as the entirety of the West Coast. The trough will be strong enough to favor the Mountain West for precipitation, though storminess will persist to a lesser extent across much of the northern portion of the United States. It’s looking like a chilly and stormy January is in store for much of country.