ITHACA, N.Y. — For those looking for a reprieve from the “Ithaca Icebox”, this week will offer some chance to thaw, if only for a few days, as a ridge of milder air builds in from the southwest before a country-wide frontal boundary ushers in another Arctic airmass towards the end of the week.

Your Weekly Weather

It is a sunny but cold close to the weekend across Upstate New York this January Sunday. Following the passage of that powerful Nor’Easter that dumped up to 30 inches of snow, forced the cancellation of thousands of flights and knocked out power for thousands of homes along the East Coast, Arctic air wrapping in on the backside of its counterclockwise-rotating circulation has resulted in some bitterly cold temperatures this weekend across Upstate New York (which was largely spared from the snow, thankfully). Temperature dropped as low as -10°F in the town of Dryden last night. However, a weak area of low pressure passing to the south has resulted in some weak southerly flow into the Southern Tier this afternoon, with temperatures making it into the 20s across much of Tompkins County.

The low will rapidly shift eastward with little impact on weather conditions in Tompkins County, but on its backside the northerly flow returns. With partly cloudy skies tonight, the wind and the limited cloudcover will result in temperatures in the 0 to +5°F range across most of the area, a little warmer in Ithaca and by Cayuga Lake, and maybe some subzero readings on the hilltops well outside the urban core. Thankfully, winds should be light, so not much is expected in the way of wind chill.

Monday will be a seasonably cold and dry day as Canadian high pressure heads eastward. Expect a partly cloudy day with high temperatures around 30°F. Monday night will be dry and quiet, with weak southerly flow on the backside of the Canadian high, with overnight lows in the mid teens with partly cloudy skies.

Tuesday will see a tightening of the pressure gradient on the rear flank of that Canadian high as a low-pressure storm system intensifies over the Upper Midwest. As this gradient tightens, the southerly flow will increase, meaning warmer temperatures ahead. Tuesday will be partly to mostly cloudy with a high in the upper 30s. Tuesday night will remain dry as the storm moves northwestward into Canada, maintaining that tight gradient. The southerly breeze Tuesday night will keep low temperatures around 30°F with mostly cloudy skies.

Wednesday will be an unsettled day as the frontal boundary associated with that storm system to the north begins to drape across the region, with a SW-NE frontal orientation and slowly pushing eastward as the storm system moves east. Mostly cloudy skies will turn overcast and some rain showers are likely move in by early afternoon, but the bulk of the precipitation will hold off until after sunset. Highs Wednesday will make into the mid 40s. Wednesday night will be wet and sloppy with periods of rain and overcast skies, with some snow mixing in by morning. Lows will be in the lower 30s.

Thursday is a day of some concern weather-wise. The front will be slow to move across the region, with a secondary low providing more moisture from the Gulf Coast. The rain-snow mix will continue through the morning, but the atmospheric setup will be favorable for the development of freezing rain in the late morning hours – recall cold air is denser than warm air, so as cold air enters the region, it will be at the surface, meaning rain will fall through the warmer air column, land on the surface as a liquid, and freeze into a sheet of ice. The greatest chance of this will be from about 9 AM to noon; after that, daytime heating will rise to highs in the mid 30s, just enough to prevent the rain from freezing, and giving it time to flow off surfaces. By 3-4 PM, though, as the cold air works in behind the cold front, the precipitation should change over to all-snow. Periods of snow will continue behind the front Thursday night and into Friday morning, with temperatures falling back into the upper teens by sunrise Friday. Expect at least a few inches of new snow from Thursday evening through Friday morning.

Friday will be cold, blustery and unsettled, with snow showers in the morning becoming less numerous by afternoon, strong northwest winds, and near-overcast skies. With that wind, highs will only be around 20°F. Friday night will see the snow showers stop, but it will be bitterly cold. Expect mostly cloudy skies and lows 0 to +5°F, with a wind chill in the -5 to -10°F range.

The weekend will be cold if quiet, as high pressure will extended in a broad arc from Texas to Quebec. Saturday will be partly cloudy with highs in the mid 20s, and Sunday will be partly cloudy and milder, with highs in the low 30s.

Extended Outlook

Looking into the second week of February, the long-term outlook calls for colder-than-normal conditions to lessen and move closer towards seasonable temperatures as we approach Valentine’s Day. A ridge over the West Coast and a plume of warmer air transported into the Upper Great Plains will allow for warmer than normal conditions in those areas, with cooler than normal temperatures over Texas and the Mississippi River Valley. Precipitation will be near-normal for the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes during the medium-range period.

Brian Crandall

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