ITHACA, N.Y. — Who’s up for another spin on the temperature rollercoaster? Temperatures will rise close to 60°F Tuesday ahead of a cold front, with high risks for further ice jams and flooding. Colder and quieter conditions will follow Wednesday and Thursday, but there is substantial chance for a disruptive snow event for Thursday night into Friday morning, though at this point the models are still resolving the details. Next weekend will return to cold and quiet conditions.

Your Weekly Weather

It’s a cold, dry Sunday across Upstate New York, following yesterday’s snow squalls and a worrying week of rain and rapid temperature swings that resulted in ice jams on area waterways, creating localized urban and valley flooding across Tompkins County. While the threat has receded with the colder temperatures and ample sunshine, some risk persists with the next warmup and rain event for Tuesday, in that remaining surface ice may become dislodged and impede increased stream flow, so that’s something that will continue to be monitored over the next few days.

For the remainder of your Sunday, weather-wise conditions will remain tranquil. Strong high pressure off the Virginia Coast will prevent a Canadian storm system from any southward motion, and light southerly winds on the backside of that high’s clockwise flow around its core will provide some milder February temperatures, topping out in the upper 30s in most parts of Tompkins County. Sunday night will see some passing clouds from the Canadian storm system as it moves east, but it will remain quiet with southerly flow becoming more southwesterly, and lows around 30°F.

Your Presidents’ Day Monday will be a mild and pleasant day by our winter standards as the high pressure shifts east but retains control over the weather of the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes. Expect a few passing clouds with highs in the low 50s. Monday night will be quiet and partly cloudy with lows in the mid 30s, though an isolated rain shower or two can’t be ruled out as the next storm system begins to take shape.

Tuesday will be warm but wet. A developing storm system over the Southern Great Plains will move northeastward Monday night into Tuesday. There may be a few instability rain showers ahead of the main event Tuesday, but by around noon the main body of rain will arrive, and it will rain for the remainder of the day and well into the evening. The air will be very moist which will allow for downpours at times, so there is a high risk of more ice jams and flooding Tuesday evening. Highs will be in the low to mid 50s, maybe some upper 50s depending on how efficiently the southerly warm air flow is amplified ahead of the storm system. Tuesday night will see rain becoming spotty showers after midnight, and this is one of those dynamic setups where the rain shield is well ahead of the frontal boundary (technical note, this is due to an elongated system center with dry air entrenchment into the core), so it’ll start drying out before the front arrives – lows Tuesday night will be around 50°F.

Wednesday will see the frontal boundary come through a little after sunrise, and from there temperatures will fall as winds begin to turn and gust from the northwest. Temperatures will steadily fall over the course of the day, from upper 40s after sunrise to low 30s by sunset, with those breezy winds (25 MPH or less generally) and dry, mostly cloudy skies. Wednesday night will see a few isolated lake-effect snow showers but otherwise dry conditions with blustery northwest winds and mostly cloudy skies. Lows Wednesday night will be in the upper teens.

Thursday will be a quiet day, though a storm system approaching from the southwest later in the day could introduce some snow showers into the area ahead of the main precipitation shield. This system will stay to the south of Ithaca most likely as it heads east, keeping Tompkins County in the cold sector of the low. It will be mostly cloudy with highs around 30°F.

If you’ll be traveling Friday morning, keep an eye on this storm. The current modeling shows snow becoming more intense and persistent after 8 PM Thursday, with the most intense snow between midnight Thursday night and noon Friday. Precipitation models suggest this could be 6-8 inches of snow using a 10:1 ratio baseline for solid:liquid, but there’s still a lot of uncertainty with the specific track of the low, which could adjust the accumulations up or down between now and Thursday night into Friday. For now, expect persistent snow, becoming heavier after midnight, with lows in the low 20s Thursday night.

Friday is expected to start off with moderate snowfall and overcast conditions, with some rain mixing in around noon before the cold front comes through and leaves scattered snow showers in its wake. Highs will be in the mid 30s, dropping to the mid 20s behind that front. Friday night will see some scattered snow showers early, become less numerous after midnight, with mostly cloudy skies and lows in the lower teens.

Next weekend is looking cold but quiet as high pressure builds in from the west. Expect partly cloudy skies both Saturday and Sunday with highs in the upper 20s Saturday and highs in the mid 30s Sunday, with overnight lows in the mid teens.

Graphics courtesy of the NOAA Climate Prediction Center.

Extended Outlook

Here’s something we don’t see very often – widespread colder-than-normal conditions from the coast. The setup is the result of a pronounced ridge over the Pacific Ocean and Alaska, which keeps an unusually large amount of warmer air upstream from the continental United States. Apart from some continental storm system riding over the top of the ridge in Alaska and into the Mountain West, most of the rest of the country will see below-average precipitation, as cooler air generally has lower moisture content, and the continental air being drawn down into the Lower 48 (i.e. sitting over dry land) has less moisture to begin with. It’s looking like March will start on the cold and dry side; dunno if that’s coming in “like a lion”, but maybe “like a polar bear” would be more fitting.

Brian Crandall

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