ITHACA, N.Y. — Normally February is a time of frigid lows, chilly highs, and bouts of snow. But with the exception of our brief cold snap, this year hasn’t lived up to wintry expectations. In fact, temperatures will be well above normal this week, with some rain Thursday into Friday ahead of a cold front. However, even after that front passes, temperatures will still be modestly above normal.

Your Weekly Weather

Canadian high pressure is providing for dry and fairly pleasant conditions across Upstate this afternoon, though some high clouds are building in aloft, the “exhaust” of a low pressure storm system over the Carolinas and mid-Atlantic coast. This system will move northeastward off the coast of Long Island, but the high pressure will continue to deflect the system away from Ithaca and Tompkins County. A clipper low will pass to the north and northeast Monday, diving into New England by Monday night. However, the local effects will be fairly minimal, some additional cloud cover and some rain and snow showers well to the east of Ithaca.

For the rest of your Sunday, expect an easy trip weather-wise if you’ll be going to any Super Bowl gatherings. Highs will top out in the upper 40s, sliding through the lower 40s and upper 30s during gametime, with partly cloudy skies overhead. Tonight will be cold but warmer than normal and quiet, with decreasing clouds and lows in the mid 20s.

Monday will be another quiet, mild day as the coastal system moves away and that clipper low passes to the north and northeast. Expect increasing clouds, from mostly clear in the morning to most cloudy by evening, but it will remain dry, with highs near 50. Monday night will host mostly cloudy if dry conditions, with lows around 30.

Tuesday will see decreasing clouds once again as that clipper low moves southeastward into the Atlantic, and slightly cooler air behind that low will temper the highs Tuesday afternoon, with mid 40s expected across Tompkins County. A strong storm system over the Midwest will work up and over the jet stream ridge Tuesday night into Wednesday, and the most immediate effect of that will be increased cloud cover and some stiff southerly wind gusts. Lows will be in the mid 30s Tuesday night with skies becoming near-overcast, and wind gusts in the 25-35 MPH range.

Wednesday will see a large amount of warmer air ushered in from the southwest as that storm system enters Ontario and Quebec well to the west and north of Ithaca. Skies will be partly to mostly cloudy and remain rain-less during the day Wednesday,. Temperatures will be much above normal, with upper 50s for highs and a strong south-southwest wind. Wednesday night will see partly to mostly cloudy skies, slackening winds, and lows in the mid 40s – more typical for mid April than mid February.

Thursday will see a second low work northeastward, this time through the Mississippi River Valley into Michigan. This storm, with a track closer to Tompkins County, will have considerable more impact than its predecessor. Expect rain showers in the morning with more frequent periods of rain during the afternoon ahead of the low. Still being in the warm sector, it should be another warm day with highs around 60. Moderate rain will move in Thursday evening and continue with periods of rain through the overnight hours. (It’s a little early to give firm precipitation amounts, but initial rain estimates at this point are in the 0.25-0.50″ range). This rain, along with gusty SSW winds, will make it a rather unpleasant night to be outdoors, even with lows in the mid 40s.

The cold front of the low should move through in the morning hours Friday as the system moves northeastward into Canada. I’m not seeing too much in the way of trailing snow behind this, especially as temperatures go from mid 40s to mid 30s by evening. That said, there will be scattered rain showers becoming less numerous as the day goes on, and it will be mostly cloudy and windy, WSW becoming WNW with some stronger gusts likely. Friday night will see showers end by strong NW winds continue through the night. It will be mostly cloudy with lows around 20, but that wind will make it feel more like 0 to 5 above.

Next weekend starts off cooler, upper 30s for Saturday, though it will be increasingly sunny with slackening winds. Sunday is looking to be dry and partly to mostly cloudy, with highs in the mid 40s as a large area of high pressure builds in from the south, and blocks a Canadian low from digging into the Finger Lakes.

Graphics courtesy of the NOAA Climate Prediction Center.

Extended Outlook

Looking to the tail end of February, the large-scale pattern calls for a continued, steep jet stream ridge over the Eastern United States, and a pronounced jet stream trough in the west. The setup is favorable for storm systems from the Pacific entering the Pacific Northwest on the downstream flow of the falling crest, and subtropical “atmospheric rivers” entering at the trough via Mexico and the desert Southwest. Further downstream, Gulf of Mexico moisture will ridge along the rising crest portion of the jet stream ridge, which will funnel moisture and less stable air into the Eastern U.S.

Long story short from this discussion of atmospheric waves, expect above-normal temperatures and modestly wetter-than-normal conditions as we head into the end of February.

Brian Crandall

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