ITHACA, N.Y. — This past December, it felt like Ithaca and Seattle switched places. They got the cold and the snow, we got the 40s and 50s with day after day of low-hanging clouds, fog and dreariness. Not necessarily saying one’s better than the other, but that’s just been the weather pattern as of late.

However, things will change for the upcoming week, if a more seasonably cold but sunnier pattern takes the reins for the week ahead. We’ll want to keep an eye on a storm system passing through Thursday night into Friday, but otherwise it’s looking like an unexciting week weather-wise, and that’s a-okay.

Graphic courtesy of NWS Binghamton.

Your Weekly Weather

Cold air continues to enter the region behind an area of low pressure now centered over the Atlantic Ocean near Nova Scotia. Temperatures range from the mid-teens in the North Country to the mid-50s in New York City this afternoon, a rapid enough change that some ice advisories were posted out of concern that standing water could quickly freeze over this afternoon.

The storm system has been able to tap into some oceanic moisture, and the orientation of the counter-clockwise rotating low is elongated SW-NE, meaning that the flow of moisture is from the northeast, with an overall eastward motion in tandem with the storm. In other words, there isn’t a ton of moisture making it this far west of the storm, and the fetch isn’t favorable to pick up lake effect enhancement.

Therefore, the amount of snow expected from today and tonight isn’t much, about an inch in most areas, with slightly higher amounts in general as one heads northwest. The snow showers will taper off after midnight tonight, with maybe another half inch of snow, and temperatures are quickly sliding back with the northerly winds, down to the mid teens for lows tonight.

Monday will be a very cold day, likely the coldest we’ve had so far this winter. High pressure over Quebec will be bringing in cold air from the northeast, while a developing storm system dropping several inches of snow over the Mid-Atlantic will enhance the flow. They will work in tandem like a pair of gears turning with each other, the northerly flow is enhanced in a reverse “S”-shape. Highs Monday will only be in the low 20s, and it will feel about ten degrees cooler with that northerly wind. The winds will slacken Monday night as the Mid-Atlantic storm and Canadian high shift, leaving calm air and a frosty night with partly cloudy skies and a low in the mid teens – were it not for building southerly flow later in the night, it could easily be colder.

Tuesday will be quieter and milder as high pressure builds in over the Southern Appalachians, bringing in a southerly wind. It will be dry with a few passing clouds and highs in the upper 30s. Tuesday night will be partly cloudy with lows in the upper 20s.

The high shifts into the Atlantic Wednesday, and a developing low pressure storm system over the Upper Midwest will enhanced the rear-flank southerly flow in the clockwise circulation of the high. The enhanced southerlies will bring temperatures into the low 40s Wednesday, as well as mostly cloudy skies ahead of the storm system. Wednesday night will see the storm pass to the north, with the cold front coming through in the early hours of Thursday morning. Expect a few rain showers turning to snow showers after midnight, but no significant amounts are expected – there’s not much moisture and the system doesn’t look that strong in the models. Lows will be in the mid 20s with mostly cloudy skies.

Thursday is somewhat complicated because of a developing coastal storm system off the Mid-Atlantic and tracking northeastward. Phasing (intermingling/merging) with the Canadian low from Wednesday doesn’t seem likely until both are far to the east. The questions are really how strong the coastal storm can get and how tightly it hugs the coast, which the models don’t have strong agreement on – the closer and the stronger it is, the more likely we see a significant event. Right now, that seems the less likely possibility, but keep an eye on the forecast. For now, the forecast calls for mostly cloudy skies during the day and highs in the mid 30s, with scattered light snow showers overnight, and a low in the lower 20s.

Regardless of what happens Thursday and Thursday night, the low will drive northwesterly flow across the Southern Tier Friday, which will be supplanted by a high pressure system over the Ohio River Valley. This will result in a cold, unsettled day with some lake-effect snow showers downstream of Lake Ontario, and highs in the upper 20s under mostly cloudy skies. Friday night will be cold with a few lingering snow showers, mostly cloudy skies and lows in the mid teens.

The weekend is looking seasonably cold Saturday with dry conditions, partly cloudy skies and highs in the low 30s. Saturday night will see a few isolated flurries and lows in the lower 20s. A developing storm system Sunday will bring southerly winds into Ithaca and Tompkins County, with rain and snow showers and highs in the lower 40s.

Graphics courtesy of the NOAA Climate Prediction Center.

Extended Forecast

The models show a potent cold snap with an Arctic high invading the Great Lakes and Northeast early next week, and lingering for several days as a ridge upstream over the Great Plains is reinforced by warmer air and in turn reinforces the trough of cold air over the Eastern United States. For what it’s worth, as an Arctic high, there will be very little moisture and the air will be very stable, so it will be drier than normal as well as colder the normal for mid-January.

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