ITHACA, N.Y. — An active weather pattern is in store for Ithaca and Tompkins County this week as multiple storms impact the region, with the biggest potential disruption being a large, powerful storm system that moves through the area late Wednesday into Thursday. Temperatures will be warmer than normal for most of the week, with more seasonable temperatures as we head into next weekend.

Your Weekly Weather

Conditions are generally cloudy across Upstate New York this afternoon as a Canadian low pressure storm system passes to the north. Temperatures are above average for late February, with highs today in the mid 40s across Tompkins County. A few sprinkles of rain are possible this afternoon, but generally conditions should remain dry for the remainder of your Sunday. Tonight will be partly to mostly cloudy with overnight lows in the mid to upper 30s.

The weak cold front associated with that Canadian low should pass through Tompkins County during the late morning and early afternoon hours Monday/Washington’s Birthday. The rainfall ahead of this front should be fairly light and showery, with amounts less than one-tenth of an inch. Skies will be near-overcast throughout the day, with highs in the mid 40s as winds turn from light out of the south to light out of the northwest. Showers will trail off by sunset, leaving dry conditions overnight with partly to mostly cloudy skies and overnight lows around 30, closer to normal but still above normal for this time of year.

A second low pressure storm system will pass from the Western Great Lakes into Ontario and Quebec. This system should pass a little closer to Tompkins County, so its impacts will be a little more substantial. A few morning snow showers Tuesday will give way to rain showers later in the day, but overall rainfall amounts should still clock in at less than one-tenth of an inch. Strong southerly breezes ahead of the low will propel temperatures into the upper 40s for highs Tuesday, with those gusty winds turning to the WNW late in the day as the low’s cold front passes through the region. Clouds will decrease early Tuesday evening, but they will increase once again after midnight as winds slacken. Overnight lows Tuesday into Wednesday will fall back to near-seasonable readings in the mid 20s.

Wednesday will offer a brief reprieve as a powerful and complex storm system strengthens over the central United States. This is an expansive two-pronged system with two well-developed lows tracking concurrently, one from the Rocky Mountains to the Midwest, the other from the Mississippi River Valley to the Mid-Atlantic. Skies will become overcast during the day Wednesday with a few rain and snow showers later in the day, with highs in the mid to upper 30s.

I do want to bring particular attention to Wednesday night , which will be real washout. Right now it’s looking like primarily a rain event in Ithaca, with fairly substantial moderate to heavy rain as temperatures warm from evening lows in the mid 30s, into the upper 30s towards morning. That noted, do keep an eye on this event, especially if you’re traveling Wednesday night into Thursday, as this could easily be a heavy snow or mixed-precipitation event at higher elevations, and small variations in temperature could result in much more of a snow event if a little more cold air works in prior to the mass of precipitation.

Thursday will be a wet day, though periods of rain should become less expansive rain showers during the afternoon hours. Highs ahead of the storm system will be in the mid 40s. Thursday night sees the cold front move through during the late evening hours, and winds will gust strongly from the northwest after its passage – high wind advisories may be needed. After midnight, rain showers will become more of a rain/snow/mixed precip combo, with near-overcast skies and temperatures falling from around 40 to mid 20s by sunrise, though that wind will make it feel more like the lower teens.

Friday will definitely feel more wintry, and rather unpleasant to be outdoors as blustery northwest winds continue throughout the day. A few morning snow showers should peter out by the afternoon, with mostly cloudy skies and frosty highs in the mid to upper 20s. Friday night will see the winds die down, with mostly cloudy skies, a few isolated snow showers, and overnight lows in the upper teens.

Looking into next weekend, it’s looking fairly dry, a chance to recover from the weekday storminess. Saturday is looking to be on the cloudier side with highs in the mid to upper 30s, and Sunday is looking to be warmer and a little sunnier with highs in the mid to upper 40s.

Graphics courtesy of the NOAA Climate Prediction Center.

Extended Outlook

Looking into the end of February and start of March, the large-scale jet stream pattern calls for a pronounced trough over the Western United States, while further downstream the ridge is somewhat flattened, with the core of unseasonably warm air confined to the Deep South. Ithaca and Tompkins County are within a rather tight gradient at the crest of the Eastern U.S. ridge, which allows for an overall near-normal temperature, but it could swing warm and cold during the period with various storm systems crossing the region. Further to that, being smack in the strongest flow of the jet stream will mean Ithaca’s in the primary storm track for mid-latitude low pressure storm systems, so it’ll be a wet and active weather pattern for the start of climatological spring.

Brian Crandall

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