ITHACA, N.Y. — It sounds really bad when we view temperatures consistently in the 40s as a meteorological cause for celebration, and yet here we are. It will be a fairly unsettled week ahead, but most precipitation will be liquid, and temperatures will be warmer than they have been. Take what you can get, folks.

Your Weekly Weather

After the cold front Friday night, we’re finding ourselves in a quiet spot for the moment, as high pressure over the Gulf of St. Lawrence is producing a modest southeast wind with its clockwise flow. With that in place, temperatures, while still chilly today, won’t be as cold as they have been in recent days.

Also of note is a rather potent coastal storm moving from the Carolina Coast to east of Cape Cod. It looks like that will stay far enough off the coast to not bring any precipitation to Tompkins County, though folks heading through the Catskills on their way to New York will want to be careful of potential freezing rain and ice buildup on Route 17. However, some light rain is likely late Monday afternoon into evening (from about 2 PM on) as a weak pulse of instability comes in from the west and taps into some of the moisture and destabilizing atmospheric forcing of the coastal storm. There might be a few snowflakes that mix in around midnight, but generally most of the precipitation will be a light, sporadic rain into Tuesday morning.

For your short term, except mostly cloudy skies tonight thanks to the cloud shield of the coastal storm, and overnight lows in the upper 20s to around 30 °F. Monday will be cloudy and cool with highs in the low 40s, and potentially rain showers after 2 PM. Monday night will be cloudy with possible rain or snow showers during the evening and overnight hours, the best chances for precipitation between about 8 PM and midnight. Lows will be in the mid to upper 30s during that time, dropping to right around freezing (32 °F) just before dawn, after the precipitation has tapered off.

Tuesday will be a little more pleasant as we find ourselves under the influence of a large area of high pressure centered over the Deep South. Temperatures will be in the low 40s in most places, perhaps mid 40s by the lake, with mostly cloudy skies. Tuesday night will see another quick-moving shortwave pass through the Southern Tier, but with little moisture, the only precipitation it will produce will be downstream of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. Plan for mostly cloudy skies, maybe an isolated rain shower or two, and lows in the mid 30s.

Wednesday will be quiet, dry in Tompkins County unless the wind fetch catches the lakes just right for some lake-effect rain showers (any that make their way into Tompkins County will be light and widely spaced). Building high pressure from the southwest should squelch those by afternoon.  It will be mostly cloudy with a high in the low 40s. Wednesday night will be quiet as the high pressure stabilizes the local atmosphere further, and so it will be dry with mostly cloudy skies and a low in the low 30s.

Thursday is looking to be somewhat warmer as the high pressure center shifts southeastward and southerly flow strengthens ahead of the next storm system, a low that will pass SW-NE through lower Michigan, with a frontal boundary to sweep through as it passes to our north. Thursday might break 50 °F, but mostly cloudy skies will give way to rain by afternoon as the front approaches. Thursday night will be cloudy with rain ahead of the front, and lows around 40 °F.\

Friday will offer a brief break, but as the low continues to strengthen to our north, and the front taps into moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, a second round of rain is likely. Plan for mostly cloudy skies with occasional rain showers and highs in the mid to upper 40s. Friday night could see some snow showers mix in as cold air filters in behind the low, but any precipitation should be light. Lows will be in the low 30s under mostly cloudy skies.

The weekend is looking quiet. Lake effect rain and snow may be possible with the cold air pushing in from the northwest, but the angle of the wind would likely not have us downwind of the lake, and therefore not in the path of those lake effect bands. Plan for mostly cloudy skies Saturday and temperatures in the low 40s, mostly cloudy and mid 30s overnight Saturday, and partly cloudy with temperatures in the mid 40s Sunday.

Graphic courtesy of the NOAA Climate Prediction Center.

Extended Outlook

It looks like we start to see something of a meteorological regime breakdown by Thanksgiving. The western ridge in the jet stream is greatly weakened, as is the eastern trough that’s been responsible for our cold and stormy November. At this point, noting especially ominous looks to be on the horizon for those holiday travel plans, with near normal temperatures and only slightly above normal precipitation amounts expected over the week. At a glance, the only area that seems to merit additional concern at the moment would be the Four Corners region of the Desert Southwest, where substantially wetter (stormier) and cooler than normal conditions are anticipated.

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