ITHACA, N.Y. — Sunday was a miserable day weather-wise. The start of the work week won’t be much better. But, take heart, weary residents of Tompkins County – there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Sunlight, that is, and much warmer temperatures to go with it.

Graphic courtesy of NWS Binghamton.

Your Weekly Weather

Let’s start with an explanation of why Saturday’s nice weather has given way to cold, gloomy weather. A deep (strong) low pressure wreaked havoc across the Southeastern U.S. before tracking northeastward and into the Atlantic. As it did, not only did it drag in Gulf moisture to fuel prolonged rainy conditions, its counterclockwise circulation has been dragging down cold Canadian air over the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. The setup is not unlike what we’d see with certain types of Nor’Easters, though (thankfully) the air is too warm for snow this time of the year.

Well, most areas are too warm. Some higher elevations across the state have seen accumulating snow. In Tompkins County, temperatures didn’t make it out of the 40s on Sunday. The average high this time of the year is in the mid 60s, with average lows in the low 40s. If there’s any silver lining to this, the clouds and rain will keep temperatures from falling much, so there’s no risk of record lows. But it is cold and damp, and with a second system moving in from the southwest, the chilly, cloudy misery will continue for at least a couple more days.

For your Sunday night, expect a break in the rain as the bulk of the rain shield of the Atlantic low moves east, while the incoming storm system has yet to arrive from the southwest. Conditions will stay overcast, however, and with the high dewpoint from the fresh rainfall, temperatures will hold steady in the low 40s into Monday morning.

Monday’s looking like a washout as the incoming low strengthens, becoming vertically stacked and tracking eastward over Pennsylvania during the day. It will rain steadily throughout the day, light to moderate in intensity, and remain overcast. Temperatures will only get into the upper 40s – the vertical stacking of the low reinforces the brisk temperatures by tapping into cold air aloft in its upper level circulation, and channeling it down towards the surface. The rain will continue through Monday night, with lows in the low 40s.

Through Monday and Monday night, most places can expect another half inch to an inch of rain on top of what’s already fallen. Some snow is possible on the hilltops thanks to the cold air being brought down towards the surface, so be aware of that in case you’re cresting a hill in your car and see some white on the ground.

As the storm system moves northeastward past Cape Cod, oceanic moisture caught in its circulation will continue the rains for another day, though conditions will begin to improve as the low pressure center slowly pulls away. Expect cloudy skies with light rain, winding down during the afternoon and evening with maybe a few breaks of sun near the end of the day. Highs will be in the low 50s. Tuesday night will see steady clearing with the last of the showers tapering off by the AM hours. Temperatures will slide into the upper 30s as the decreasing cloud cover allows some more surface heat to escape, but on the bright side, it will be partly cloudy with generous amounts of sunshine by Wednesday morning.

After the past few days of unpleasant weather, Wednesday will be quite nice. Plan for partly cloudy skies and a high in the mid 60s as high pressure pushes into the region. Some showers are possible late Wednesday as a weak frontal boundary begins to push into region, but the showers should hold off until after sunset. The strong cutoff low pressure system stalls out over Atlantic Canada, and like a spoke on a wheel, the frontal boundary is pushed in from the northwest by its large, counterclockwise circulation. The front passes overhead around midnight, so expect scattered showers and mostly cloudy skies Wednesday night with a low in the mid 40s.

The front will be far enough from the core of the system that it doesn’t have much moisture available to it, and the bulk of the cold air will be entrenched around the cold core to the east. Thursday will only be be a degree or two cooler (low 60s), but otherwise fairly dry with mostly cloudy skies and only a few isolated rain showers. Thursday night will be mostly cloudy with a few isolated rain showers and lows in the mid 40s.

High pressure builds in once again for Friday, though moist and unstable air on its western flank will allow the risk of showers to continue. It will also allow temperatures to warm up quite nicely, especially as a large area of low pressure strengthens and persists over the Great Plains, enhancing the southerly winds over the Eastern United States.

Friday will be fairly nice. Expect partly cloudy skies, a few isolated rain showers, and highs in the upper 60s. Friday night will be mostly cloudy with a few scattered rain showers and lows around 50 °F. Saturday will be a bit warmer as the southerly flow strengthens, and temperatures will make into the low and mid 70s under partly cloudy skies. Saturday night will be mostly cloudy with a few scattered showers and lows in the low 50s, and Sunday will host partly cloudy skies and highs in the mid 70s. The plains system may begin its eastward trek early next week, but we’ll worry about that in next week’s forecast.

Graphic courtesy of the NOAA Climate Prediction Center.

Extended Outlook

Looking at the forecast for next week, the strong low pressure storm system developing over the Plains will dominate the weather pattern, enhancing a ridge of warm air over the Eastern United States, and a trough of cold air over the West, with the Plains being near normal as it sits between the two flanks of the low’s circulation. The pattern portends somewhat drier than normal conditions for the east, Tompkins County included, with much wetter than normal conditions for the western United States and especially the Pacific Northwest. This “warm east, cool west” pattern is expect to hold through Memorial Day weekend, which early indications suggest will be near-normal or a bit above normal temperature-wise.

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