ITHACA, N.Y.—It feels a lot like winter at the moment, with freezing temperatures and widespread light snow across Tompkins County, but that will be short-lived as a resurgence of warm air brings temperatures into the 60s by Thursday, albeit with widespread rain. More tranquil and cool though not cold conditions will settle in for next weekend.
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It’s a cold and unsettled Sunday as a large, strong area of low pressure sits over Atlantic Canada. The counterclockwise flow around the broad storm system means ample amounts of cold air are being brought down from Hudson’s Bay, and as that air passes over the warmer and largely ice-free surface of Lake Ontario, moisture and instability are being injected into the atmosphere, resulting widespread light to moderate snow.
Tompkins County will see 1-4″ from these snowbands through tomorrow morning, with higher amounts north and east from Ithaca, as those areas are more aligned with the wind angle and therefore more in the path of the snowbands – and generally, the closer you get to Lake Ontario’s shore, the more snow there will be. This period of on-and-off light snow will continue through the rest of Sunday and into Monday morning, with overcast skies and a stiff northwest wind, 15–20 MPH with 30-35 MPH gusts. Those winds and thick clouds will keep things very cold for late March, with highs in the low 30s and overnight lows tonight in the low teens, with a windchill around zero degrees.
Monday will see the snowbands weaken as the system shifts and less moisture is available, and maybe a coatings’ worth of new snow during the day. But the northwest winds will be even stronger — 20–25 MPH with gusts near 40 MPH. Temperatures will remain in the mid 20s for highs with mostly cloudy skies. Winds will begin to settle down from sunset through Monday night as the storm system moves away, with mostly cloudy skies a low in the low teens. Wind chills will be near zero Monday night.
Tuesday will be an improvement as high pressure builds in from the west. However, while the weather will be partly cloudy, the clockwise flow around that high will continue to draw in colder air from the north, and it will be enough unseasonably cold day. Highs will be in the low 30s. Tuesday night will be cold and quiet, with mostly clear skies and a low in the mid teens.
The high will shift eastward and a warm front will come in through the region Wednesday, part of a storm system over the Midwest. The warm front will move in during the mid and late afternoon hours, and this will involve scattered rain showers but nothing persistent. Skies will turn from partly cloudy in the morning to mostly cloudy during the PM hours, with highs in the mid 40s. With south winds building in by sunset, temperatures won’t fall much overnight, with mostly cloudy skies and lows in the upper 30s.
As that storm system intensifies over the Western Great Lakes, there will be a surge of milder air in its counterclockwise flow, and that will make for a significantly warmer Thursday, with highs in the mid-60s. However, that storm system will also tap into moisture from as far south as the Gulf of Mexico, and it will be a rainy Thursday as well. It should remain intermittent showers before 2 PM, with steadier rains through the evening and into the early hours of Thursday night. Initial indications show about one-quarter to one-half of an inch of precipitation. The rain will become showery again and winds will begin to turn out of the west as the cold front approaches around sunrise Friday, but it will remain mild overnight Thursday with lows in the low 40s.
Friday will be cooler as colder air begin to work in around the low as it passes Ithaca longitude well to the north. Skies will be partly to mostly cloudy with a few lingering showers, but there will be a fair amount of sun with highs in the mid 50s. Showers will end by the early hours of Saturday morning, with partly cloudy skies and lows in the low 30s Friday night.
The weekend is looking cooler and quiet as high pressure builds in again from the west. Saturday and Sunday both appear to remain dry with partly cloudy skies, highs in the mid 40s, and lows around 30°F.
Looking into the first full week of April, the large-scale pattern calls for a jet stream ridge in the Western United States and a trough in the Eastern U.S., meaning below normal temperatures across the east. The core of the unseasonable cold will be to the west of Ithaca, so conditions are expected to be only a little below average, with highs in the 40s instead of low 50s. Precipitation is expected to be near-normal during the period.