ITHACA, N.Y. — Many of you are still digging/scrapping/thawing out from Thursday-Friday’s mixed precipitation event, and the weather stands to be a bit gentler this upcoming week. Temperatures will run higher than normal most days, with some sun earlier in the week and a sloppy rain/snow mix as we head into the weekend.

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The big question going into last week’s storm was where the cold-warm air boundary would set itself up, and forecasts were fairly close, with the line just a little further to the northwest than initially expected. It’s not often snowfall totals vary by over 8″ from one end of Tompkins County to the other, but that’s how it played out as Northwestern Tompkins County saw over a foot, while parts of Caroline only saw 4″. The caveat, of course, is that there was an extended freezing-rain and sleet period for communities in exchange for the snow. Add a little powder on top, and you get something which the trail skiers seem to love, but for the rest of us on wheels or in boots, not so much.

We can comfortably say that anything on the other of that slippery nightmare is off the table for the upcoming week. In fact, some southerly flow should allow for a generous amount of melt-off most days – which you’ll want to keep an eye on if you live in an area prone to ice damming and flooding. But otherwise, conditions will be less hazardous for the week ahead.

This Sunday is fairly quiet as an Arctic high pressure system continues to shift off to the east. Since air circulates clockwise around high pressure systems in the Northern Hemisphere, this means some southerly flow and warmer temperatures for the Ithaca area. Temperatures are currently in the mid and upper 20s around the county this afternoon, with high temperatures expected to top out in the upper 20s to around 30°F with partly cloudy skies. With those southerly breezes though, wind chill remains an issue, with the “sensible” temperature feeling more like it’s in the teens.

The winds will slacken tonight with the loss of daytime heating, but the southerly flow and increasing cloud cover should allow for warmer overnight lows Sunday night into Monday, with quiet conditions and seasonable lows in the mid teens. There are a couple of storm systems to keep an eye on for Monday, with a weak low pressure system to our north that will drift southeast as it falls apart, and a coastal low will be developing off the Mid-Atlantic coast. While there will be some enhanced southerly winds, the models have backed away from precipitation in the Finger Lakes and Southern Tier. Monday will likely remain with partly to mostly cloudy skies and highs in the upper 30s. Monday night will see mostly cloudy skies with lows around 20°F.

Tuesday will be a little more unsettled, with the possibility of some isolated snow showers from both the decayed shortwave as it sags southward through the Finger Lakes, potentially tapping some moister air from the coastal low. However, it doesn’t look like anything major, just a few light rain or snow showers with mostly cloudy skies and highs in the mid 30s. Winds will turn to the northwest later in the day as the shortwave transfers its remaining energy to the coastal low, helping it strengthen and pull down more polar air on its backside. Tuesday night will be calm and partly cloudy but colder, with lows in the low teens.

High pressure over the Southeastern United States builds in for Wednesday, and the result will be a quiet and rather mild day for February, with partly cloudy skies and highs around 40°F. More clouds will move in late in the day as the next storm system, a Canadian low passing to the north, begins to impinge onto the Eastern Great Lakes with its associated frontal trough. A few showers may develop ahead of the trough Wednesday night, but generally it should remain dry with cloudy skies and lows around 30°F.

Thursday will be unsettled as the frontal boundary slowly presses through Upstate. Expect cloudy skies with scattered snow showers early in the morning, changing to rain showers during the day as temperatures rise to about 40°F, and back to a combination of rain and snow showers through the evening. The showers will wind down Thursday night as the system moves eastward and colder air moves in, leaving mostly cloudy skies and lows in the upper teens.

Friday will see snow lake-effect rain and snow showers kick up across the region. Expect mostly cloudy skies to near-overcast by evening, with highs in the mid 30s. A quick-moving but weak Alberta Clipper low moves into the region during the night Friday, so expect some scattered snow showers with mostly cloudy skies and lows in the 20s.

Saturday will be on the warmer side ahead of the clipper low, with mostly cloudy skies, scattered rain and snow showers, and highs in the upper 30s. Behind the low, however, temperatures will fall, with snow showers Saturday night and lows in the low teens, and a cold day Sunday with dry, mostly cloudy skies and highs around 20°F.

Graphics courtesy of the NOAA Climate Prediction Center

Extended Outlook

For those looking for early Spring-like conditions, the medium-range prognosis isn’t great. The models suggest a persistent jet stream ridge over the Western United States with a downstream trough that would funnel storms in from Canada, creating colder and wetter than normal conditions in the Eastern Great Lakes, Tompkins County included. For what it’s worth, the initial indications for late February show some warmer-than-normal indicators, but we’ll have to wait until we get closer to see if those are persistent in the extended range runs.

Brian Crandall

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