ITHACA, N.Y. — It’s not looking especially bad, but it won’t be the nicest of weeks as a storm system spins through Tompkins County on Tuesday, with cold air to come in behind it. But on a brighter note, it’s looking like a warm finish to February, with quite mild and pleasant conditions by next weekend.

Your Weekly Weather

It’s a fairly quiet Sunday evening, as a weak cold front ushers in from the northwest. The lack of energy and moisture available to it means that only a few isolated, weak flurries are likely as it passes through overnight, with the showers ending by mid-morning and high pressure moving in thereafter. Otherwise, it will be mostly cloudy tonight, with lows in the mid 20s in Ithaca’s urban core and close to the lake, and low 20s in the outlying towns and higher elevations.

With that colder, more stable air in place for Monday, temperatures will be a little cooler, with temperatures topping out in the mid 30s under partly cloudy skies. As the high pressure shifts eastward late Monday, temperatures will begin to climb before midnight as the wind shifts to out of the south, enhanced by a low pressure storm system moving in from the west. Lows will be in the mid 20s early, and increasing clouds and strengthening southerly winds will raise the temperatures to the mid 30s by the time of the Tuesday morning commute.

Tuesday’s going to be rather unpleasant as that storm system passes through. Winds will be strong out of the south, with a breeze of 15-20 MPH and gusts up to 35 MPH in Ithaca and 40-45 MPH on the hills; some isolated power outages will be possible. An initial spritz of light snow will transition over to rain by 8 AM, and rain will fall through the rest of the morning and afternoon, nearly sideways given that gusty wind. It will be a cloudy, damp, windy day with highs in the mid 40s. Rainfall amounts will be between a tenth and a quarter of an inch.

As the core of the low passes east of Tompkins County by mid-afternoon Tuesday, the winds will lighten up and turn to the northwest, and temperatures will fall steadily as cooler air works in. The bulk of the rain should be over by 8 PM, but scattered light snow showers will persist throughout the area overnight into Wednesday morning – don’t expect more than a dusting of snow. Lows overnight will be in the upper 20s.

Wednesday will be colder and quieter as a very broad Arctic high builds in while it pushes into the Northern Great Plains from Canada. The high itself is quite strong, but the sheer size of it keeps frigid air from really building up. Temperatures will be average to below average Wednesday and Thursday, but not anything close to record-breaking like the -12°F we saw Saturday morning. Wednesday will host mostly cloudy skies with a few light lake-enhanced snow showers courtesy of Lake Ontario, and a high in the low 30s. Wednesday night will be more of the same, with mostly cloudy skies, light lake-enhanced snow showers out of the north, and lows in the mid teens.

Thursday is looking like the coldest day of the week as the Arctic high continues to push southeastward now over Illinois and Iowa. Apart from a few lake effect showers, it’ll be partly cloudy, with highs only in the low 20s. Thursday night will be partly cloudy, with the snow showers now moving away from us as the wind becomes more westerly. Lows will be in the low teens in Ithaca and upper single digits in the rural areas.

Friday will likely be warmer as the Arctic high continues to sink southward, now near the Ohio River Valley. At this point, the clockwise circulation will be directing milder air from the west into the Southern Tier, so temperatures will climb accordingly. It will be seasonably cold, sunny with highs in the low 30s. Friday night will see mostly clear skies and a low in the low 20s.

The circulation of the high becomes more elongated for the weekend, creating a more southwesterly flow into Tompkins County, and allowing temperatures to warm up considerably, while keeping the atmosphere stable. It’ll be a good weekend to take care of some errands or do some work outdoors. Saturday will be sunny with a high in the low 40s. Saturday night will be partly cloudy with a low in the upper 20s. Sunday will be a little cloudier as some moisture works in from the southwest, but otherwise partly cloudy and dry, with highs in the mid 40s.

Graphic courtesy of the NOAA Climate Prediction Center.

Extended Outlook

Looking towards the end of the month, it looks like that temperatures will remain on the warm side of average in the Northeast and Midwest, as that big, slow-moving high churns warmer air into the region. This will abate somewhat by the end of the month, but overall temperatures are expected to remain above normal. However, while the high will keep things dry, as it shifts away, the jet stream conveyor belt of storms will return, leading to the resumption og wetter than normal condition by the end of the month.

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