ITHACA, N.Y. — Every cloud has a silver lining, as the old adage goes. In a week where there will be plenty of clouds, the silver lining is that you won’t be shoveling their contents this week. It’s December, we have to take what we can get folks.

Graphic courtesy of NWS Albany.

Your Weekly Weather

We’re finishing out this weekend on the rainy side thanks to a large area of low pressure currently centered over Minnesota. This system is moving to the northeast, and so that will keep Ithaca and Tompkins County within the warm sector of the low (lows rotate counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere), with milder air churning into the region on a southerly wind. The low will spin in place over the upper Great Lakes, keeping us in the warm sector as it weakens and transfers its energy to a developing coastal low Tuesday into Wednesday.

Speaking locally, there is too much mild air in place near the surface for ice to form in substantial quantities. The flow of milder air is stronger here, so precipitation will fall as rain and stay liquid after it hits the ground. However, cooler air in the higher elevations of the Catskills and parts of the Mohawk Valley could result in potential ice storm conditions to our east, so if you’re heading to Albany or New York City on Monday morning, be very, very careful out on the highways.

For tonight, expect the rain to continue through the night, light to moderate intensity with cloudy skies. This will keep the ground saturated and temperatures will not fall back much further, mid 30s in most of Tompkins County and maybe upper 30s along the lake. Rainfall amounts will be between one-quarter and a one-half of an inch.

Monday will be a wet, grey day with rain in the morning tapering to scattered showers by afternoon. Winds will be breezy out of the south, but the wet, overcast conditions will keep temperatures from warming too much, with highs in the upper 30s. Rainfall amounts will be around one-quarter of an inch. Temperatures will stay fairly constant Monday night, with mostly cloudy skies and scattered rain showers and a low in the mid to upper 30s. A few flakes may mix in in the higher elevations towards morning, but no accumulations are expected.

Tuesday will be a little warmer if still unsettled, due to the generally unstable atmosphere between the decaying low to the west and the developing coastal low to the east. Temperatures will be in the low 40s with mostly cloudy skies and scattered light rain showers. The last showers should taper off by late Tuesday evening before the lights change over on the Ithaca College towers, with generally cloudy skies by midnight and a low in the low 30s by daybreak as the low to the east draws down some cooler air into the Southern Tier.

Wednesday will be drier as the low to the east moves away, with mostly cloudy skies with an isolated shower or two, particularly east of Ithaca. A stiff northwest wind will keep temperatures in the mid to upper 30s. Wednesday night will be dry and partly cloudy as the low continues to move away and the air calms and stabilizes, with lows in the upper 20s.

Thursday is looking nice as a high pressure system builds in from the Carolinas. its clockwise flow will return milder southerly air to our region as well as keeping the air stable. Plan for mostly sunny skies and a high in the upper 40s. By Thursday night though, two lows, one over the southern Great Plains, one over the northern Great Plains, will begin to merge over the central U.S. as they move eastward. This very broad storm system will bring clouds and then rain into our region, though once again we will remain in the warm sector. The clouds will arrive by late evening and the rain will build in by daybreak Friday morning, with lows in the mid 30s.

Friday is looking to be cloudy, rainy day, with highs in the upper 40s. Friday night will see the rain lift northeast out of the area, with mostly cloudy skies after midnight and a low in the mid 30s. The low will pass well to our north and become elongated west-east, which reduces the flow of colder air into the Southern Tier.

Saturday will be mostly cloudy with a few showers from the low to the north and a high in the mid 40s. Saturday night will be mostly cloudy with a few rain or snow showers and lows in the mid 30s, and Sunday will be mostly cloudy with a few isolated showers as a low-pressure clipper-type system passes to the north with a high in the low 40s. All in all, a wet if mild week.

Graphic courtesy of the NOAA Climate Prediction Center.

Extended Outlook

The medium-term outlook calls for some slackening in the ridge in the jet stream over the Eastern United States by the second week of January, although the week will start off on the warm side and the trends roughly balance out for a near normal temperature before the ridge and milder air build back in for the second half of the month. It will be a touch and the wet side, but there are much stronger indicators for a wet second-half of January, and milder air or not, all it takes is being at the wrong place at the wrong time for a major snow event, that’s something we’ll want to keep an eye on during the latter half of the month.

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