ITHACA, N.Y. — After the rain and storms that rumbled through Ithaca and Tompkins County last week, it’s looking like a late spring delight this week – just in time for Cornell’s graduation, go figure.

Weather Recap

It was noted last week that Tuesday was the potentially active for severe thunderstorms, though it was expected the worst would be south of the region; and that was partially correct. However, the worst of it shifted eastward from Pennsylvania to downstate New York and Connecticut instead.

The result? Seven tornadoes, windshield-smashing hail, downed trees, and water blown out of rooftop swimming pools in Manhattan. The evening commute out of New York’s Grand Central Station was heck on earth, and the NYS Mesonet station in Beacon recorded wind gusts of 77.5 MPH. Unfortunately, the storms also resulted in five fatalities from falling trees brought down by the powerful winds.

Apart from Tuesday’s intense weather, things in Ithaca and Tompkins have been fairly calm – a major rain event washed over the area on Saturday, but it was a stratiform mass ahead of a warm front, meaning it wasn’t so much torrential downpours, but a steady if long-lasting rain event. With yesterday’s clearing out of the skies, the start of this week is looking pretty bright.

Your Weekly Weather

Folks across the county have woken up to a fairly pleasant May Monday, with some high clouds overhead and fog in the valleys, but otherwise sunny skies and comfortable temperatures rising steadily through the 50s and 60s, especially as that fog burns off with the warming of the air. Calm winds and steady solar radiation should allow temperatures to reach the low and mid 70s throughout the area, a little warmer in the urban locales, and a little cooler in the rural areas and higher elevations.

The notable weather event of this week looks to be a fairly disorganized if large rainmaker that will work its way east-northeastward into the region overnight tonight. Clouds will steadily build in after sunset, with rain likely by 5 or 6 AM. With the cloudcover, temperatures should only fall back into the upper 50s for a low.

Tomorrow’s rains will be most widespread from early morning through late AM, tapering to scattered showers for the afternoon and early evening hours. As we will be in the warm, more energetic sector of the low during the day, some pop-up showers and thunderstorms are possible after the warm front and first wave of rain slowly moves through. Expect highs Tuesday to be in the upper 60s. Tuesday night, the rain will taper off completely as the cool front sweeps through on the back edge of the low pressure area, and skies begin to clear out again. Lows will be to the mid 50s. Expect total rainfall to be between -.5-1″, with higher amounts in areas caught in the path of thunderstorms.

With an expansive and strong area of high pressure following the front, the second half of the work week will be pleasant. Mostly sunny skies for Wednesday will be complemented by temperatures in the mid to upper 70s, Wednesday night will be starry skies with lows in the low 50s, and Thursday will be sunny once again with highs in the mid 70s. If you have a chance to be out and about those days, take advantage, it will be Ithaca weather at its finest!

After another mostly clear night Thursday with lows in the low 50s, warm air advection will increase just a little bit, allowing temperatures to climb a bit higher on Friday into the lower 80s, under partly cloudy skies. The humidity should be comfortable. However, after a warm, dry Friday night with lows around 60, and we head into the weekend, Saturday will get a little warmer still into the mid 80s, but dewpoints will creep up into the low to mid 60s, giving the air a bit of a summer-like muggy, sticky feel. You’ll notice it if out for a jog, and it may encourage some late-day pop-up showers or thunderstorms, but it certainly wouldn’t be a bad weekend to hang around by the pool or the grill as you start your Memorial Day celebrations.

All in all, it’ll be a somewhat warmer-than-normal week with only one day of substantial rain. Unlike Ithaca College’s ceremony last weekend, the college kids finishing up on East Hill will likely get a nice, dry, warm send-off.

Graphic courtesy of the NOAA Climate Prediction Center

Extended Outlook

A deep tap of tropical moisture will keep chances for precipitation elevated through the long-term, with greater chances for heavier rains as we finish out the month and start June. The northeast is expected to benefit from a ridge of high pressure early on, but the potential for above-normal cloudiness and precipitation should keep temperatures from getting really warm, as is expected out in the Mountain West. Later in this period, the growing flow of tropical moisture may even help keep temperatures cooler than normal by limiting the amount of sunshine penetrating the persistent cloud cover.

Also, brief personal note – this meteorologist will be leaving for a German vacation tomorrow, and the weekly weather column will be taking next week off. Urgent weather updates will be posted as needed.

Brian Crandall

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