ITHACA, N.Y. — Bone-chilling subzero temperatures are widespread across Tompkins County this morning, and this bitterly cold event will precede a potent snow and ice storm that will cross the region Sunday night through Monday morning. A Wind Chill Advisory is in effect through 1 PM today, and a Winter Storm Watch has been issued for Sunday 5 PM through Monday 5 PM.

Temperatures will struggle to get out of the single-digits today as an Arctic high remains in control, funneling wind from the polar latitudes of Northeastern Canada. Wind chills are current -15 to -25 °F across much of the region. High temperatures will remain in the single-digits for most of Tompkins County today, with wind chills likely to fall between -10 and -20 °F tonight and in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Sunday will be a little warmer (low-mid 20s) as the high shifts east and weak southerly flow moderates temperatures behind it. The primary concern is a developing storm system that will begin moving into the region late Sunday night between 8 PM and midnight, from south to north as it rides up the East Coast.

Graphic courtesy of NWS Binghamton.

Heavy snow (1 inch or more per hour) is expected, especially west of Ithaca, during the overnight hours Sunday into Monday. This snow will tend to be a drier, fluffier snow because of the cold air in place. East of Ithaca, warmer air will be channeled into Upstate New York around the low pressure system’s counterclockwise circulation. This will result in lower snowfall totals, but the snow that does fall will be denser and higher water content. It will also likely mix in with some sleet and ice accumulation, especially between Binghamton and Albany. These snows will be accompanied by breezy winds out of the southeast and then east, gusting up to 25 MPH.

The snow will begin to taper off from west to east Monday evening as the system continues to move east. Behind the low, the winds will quickly rotate and become gusty from the northwest, resulting in blowing snow Monday night, with the wind slowly dying down and the snow showers tapering off by daybreak Tuesday.

The last few model runs have generally settled on 6-8″ of snow east of Ithaca, around 8″ in Ithaca itself, and 8-12″ west of Ithaca. Most of that will occur from 10 PM Sunday night – 10 AM Monday morning. Snowfall amounts may still end up a couple inches more or less than is forecast, as the storm’s path creates a steep gradient in snowfall totals. Note that the western areas with higher amounts will see a less dense “fluffy” snow, while the area to the east see more densely packed snow and potential sleet and ice impacts.

Graphic courtesy of NWS Binghamton.

Major travel impacts are expected, especially east of Ithaca where ice accumulation could turn the roads into a slick mess. With the winds and snow, some isolated power outages are possible. If you’ll be travelling late Sunday night or Monday morning, give yourself extra time and expect slow travel as plows work to remove snow from the roads, and as visibility may be limited at times due to blowing snow.

The regular Sunday forecast will be posted tomorrow evening with further updates. Additional updates are frequently available from the National Weather Service’s Binghamton Forecast Office.

Brian Crandall

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