The Bulb Labyrinth Memorial Garden at Ithaca Children's Garden. (Photo courtesy of ICG)

ITHACA, N.Y. — There’s no other way of dancing around it – the weather is actually going to be pretty nice for most of this week. Enjoy it.

Graphic courtesy of the Weather Prediction Center.

Your Weekly Weather

The thermometer has finally started to soar to summer-like temperatures. The high of 87 ºF at the Ithaca-Tompkins airport on Sunday was the highest temperature yet this year, the first day to crack 80 ºF and the warmest since Sept. 5 of last year. Tompkins County was spared from the rough side of this warm, moist and unstable air mass, which created numerous severe thunderstorms across New York and Pennsylvania, lighting up the Binghamton radar like a Christmas tree and producing damaging winds, hail and even some tornado warnings.

This warm air mass comes courtesy of a storm system passing from the Great Plains and into Michigan and Southern Canada. With the storm’s low pressure center to the west and northwest of the Southern Tier, that meant that the system’s counterclockwise circulation tapped into air southwest of us and advected it into the region, creating the unseasonable heat, but also generating the instability needed to fire off those potent thunderstorms.

This activity should continue through Sunday night, decreasing in quantity and severity. Expect mostly cloudy skies with scattered showers and thunderstorms, a few of which may be strong or severe – keep an eye out for NWS weather alerts on your radio, TV or cell phone in case warnings are initiated. It will be balmy, humid with lows in the mid-60s.

On Monday, the storm center should continue its west-northwesterly trek towards the Gulf of St. Lawrence by morning, and with that, the instability should wind down, and cooler air will come in behind the low. It will be partly cloudy, with a strong westerly breeze and a few lingering showers in the morning, dissipating later in the day. Highs will be in the mid-70s. Monday night will be much cooler but dry, partly cloudy with lows in the mid-40s.

High pressure centered over the upper Midwest will keep conditions on the cool side but otherwise pleasant for Tuesday. Partly cloudy skies will give way to just a few passing clouds by afternoon, with a persistent northwest breeze and highs in the low to mid-60s. Tuesday night will be cool and quiet, with mostly clear skies and a low in the mid-40s.

Wednesday will see the high-pressure system shift eastward into Canada, with its core passing over the Northeast during the day. Temperatures will be in the mid-60s, with increasing clouds as slightly warmer and more unstable air builds in behind the center of the high. Expect the day to stay dry, and quite comfortable for outdoor activities. Wednesday night will be mostly cloudy with perhaps an isolated shower or two, and lows in the low 50s.

The core of the high shifts to the Southeastern United States by Thursday morning, which creates a persistent storm track from the Great Plains, through the Ohio River Valley and into the Northeast. This will allow multiple waves of instability and moisture to pass into the region, though none of these look particularly strong or long-lasting. It will also channel warmer, humid air from the southwest into the region, so temperatures will once again heat up.

For Thursday, expect mostly cloudy skies with some widely scattered showers and perhaps some weak thunderstorms. Highs will be in the mid-70s. Thursday night will be mostly cloudy, with some scattered showers and thunderstorms, and lows in the mid-50s.

Friday will have some drier air mix in, with few if any showers in the region. The vast majority can expect partly sunny skies and a high in the mid to upper 70s. Friday night will see a new shortwave pulse move in from the west, triggering some showers to pop up. It will be mostly cloudy, with scattered showers and a low around 60 ºF.

Saturday and Sunday are looking rather unsettled as a cold front approaches from the northwest, though neither appears to be a complete washout. Scattered showers and thunderstorms will traverse the region on both days, with mostly cloudy skies in-between. Highs Saturday will be in the upper 70s, and highs Sunday in the low to mid-70s. Lows will be in the mid-50s Saturday night and Sunday night, under mostly cloudy and occasionally showery or stormy skies.

Graphic courtesy of the NOAA Climate Prediction Center.

Extended Outlook

With the persistent high pressure over the Southeastern U.S., a heat dome will build over the region, with temperatures likely pressing into the 100s – a humid 100s – in parts of Florida and Georgia. We’ll be on the edge of that dome at the end of the month, exposing to us to some warmer than normal days, punctuated by cooler, stormier days as storms move up and around the dome. Conditions will moderate a little by early June, with modestly warmer and wetter than normal conditions forecasted.

In contrast, for those of you planning trips out to Phoenix, Las Vegas, or Salt Lake City for Memorial Day, temperatures are expected to be much cooler than usual, as a deep trough in the jet stream persists upstream of the heat dome. Temperatures will run 10-20 ºF cooler than normal, which for Vegas means…upper 70s. Cooler and warmer than normal is all relative to climate, folks.

Featured image: File photo.

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