ITHACA, N.Y. — As we head into the start of meteorological spring (March 1st), the weather will be on the cold side following the passage of an Arctic front this evening. However, most of the week’s looking fairly tame with a couple of weak storm systems and cool but dry and sunny conditions towards the end of the week.

Your Weekly Weather

We’re starting off this Sunday with ample sunshine ahead of a cold front slowing pushing southward from Canada and into the North Country. This front will continue to move southward as the day goes on, and clouds will steadily build into the region during the early afternoon hours, with a strong west wind as the parent low is off to the northeast and air circulates counterclockwise around low pressure systems.

Temperatures will climb above freezing in most parts of Tompkins County except the highest elevations today, and Ithaca itself will be mid to upper 30s ahead of the front. There will be that cloudiness by later afternoon, and a quick coating of snow in the 3-5 PM timeframe. These will be brief but potent squalls, so be mindful that visibility may suddenly drop for a few minutes as you’re going about the roads later today. After the front passes around sunset, the clouds and some lake-enhanced snow showers will hang around through the night as winds turn to the north, and lows will fall back to the lower teens by morning. New snowfall will be less than an inch.

Monday will see the snow showers taper off as high pressure moves in from the west. It’ll be a fairly quiet day from late morning on, but cold, with partly cloudy skies and highs in the mid 20s. Monday night will be cold but quiet, with mostly cloudy skies and lows in the low teens.

A weak and fast-moving low pressure system will pass over the Great Lakes region Tuesday, and that will conjure some breezy southerly winds and warmer air into the region ahead of its passage. Expect mostly cloudy skies with some rain showers by afternoon, and a high in the mid 40s. The associated cold front will pass a little after sunset, and the rain showers should change to snow by midnight, with little to no accumulation expected. Otherwise, it’ll be mostly cloudy with lows in the mid 20s.

Wednesday will start with a few lake-enhanced snow showers possible behind the low as northwesterly winds pass over Lake Ontario, and a quick-moving clipper low may drop a quick inch of snow as we head into the evening. Wednesday will be mostly cloudy otherwise with highs in the mid 30s (outlying areas) to upper 30s (Ithaca proper). Wednesday night will see the snow showers wind down as the low moves further east, leaving behind mostly cloudy skies and lows in the low 20s.

Thursday is showing signs of some very cold air aloft, and it’s still a question mark how much of that makes it way into Tompkins County – model runs are ranging from low 20s to mid 30s, though more reliable models are favoring the colder outcome. For now, expect a few lake-effect snow showers and an otherwise mostly cloudy day with temperatures below-normal, in the mid 20s for highs. Thursday night will be partly cloudy with lows around 10°F.

Friday will be a quiet day as high pressure builds in from the northwest. Expect partly cloudy skies and highs in the mid 30s. Friday night will be dry and partly cloudy with lows in the upper teens.

Looking into next weekend, Saturday should be quiet early with a chance of rain and snow showers later in the day as a storm system approaches from the west-southwest, and highs in the mid 40s. Saturday night will see rain showers and lows in the upper 30s, and Sunday appears to be a rainy day with a strong flow of mild air, potentially reaching into the low 50s for highs.

Graphics courtesy of the NOAA Climate Prediction Center.

Extended Outlook

Looking into the second week of March, the large-scale jet stream pattern favors a deep trough in the Western United States and into the plains states, with a downstream ridge of warm, moist air over the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic. This sets up the jet stream to tap into moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, allowing for a water vapor-heavy atmosphere more prone to producing heavy participation where atmospheric conditions are favorable for rain/snow development. In short, we can expect modestly warmer than normal conditions for Tompkins County, but also likely wetter than normal as we head into mid-March.

Brian Crandall

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