ITHACA, N.Y. — The snow is melting and the crocuses are shooting up in front gardens. Astronomical spring is coming, and it’ll certainly feel like the season has arrived this week as temperatures flirt with 60° F. Expect some light to moderate showers in the second half of this week ahead of a cold front, but don’t let that rain on your parade, as temperatures are expected to be near-to-above normal heading into the end of March.

Your Weekly Weather

It’s been a chilly and snow showery weekend as the storm system from Friday spins out over Quebec and Newfoundland, heading eastbound into the Atlantic. In its counterclockwise circulation, winds from the WNW have brought chilly polar air into Tompkins County, as well as lake-enhanced snow showers, and a brief but potent squall line ahead of the cold front itself last night. To the Cornell kids attending their St. Patrick’s festivities in shorts yesterday, I hope that “beer blanket” was cozy.

A sheet of low to mid level clouds hangs over much of Upstate today, a combination of instability from the broad low pressure system to the northeast, and the energy from warm lake waters providing localized instability as colder air passes over their surfaces. While there are lake effect snow bands north of Syracuse, the prevailing winds don’t favor a turn this far south, so snow showers today will be brief and weak, with less than an inch of accumulation possible. With gusty winds up to 30 MPH today and generally cloudy skies, temperatures will be below normal, in the lower 30s across Tompkins County.

However, after sunset, an expansive area of high pressure will begin to build in from the southwest, and winds will turn to the south around midnight. This will do a couple of things – one, the snow showers and cloud cover quickly dissipate. Two, the temperatures will hold steady as soon as the winds turn, in the mid 20s tonight, and much milder readings for Monday.

With that high pressure to the southwest, Monday will be a pleasant start to astronomical spring. Skies will be abundantly sunny with highs in the upper 40s. Monday night will see increasing clouds with lows around 30.

The high pressure shifts a little further eastward Tuesday, into the Mid-Atlantic states, but remains in control of the local weather. Flow on its backside will be a little milder, but also a little less stable, which should allow for a few more clouds during the day, Skies will be partly cloudy with highs in the lower 50s. Tuesday night will see partly to mostly cloudy skies with lows in the lower 30s.

A developing storm system over the Upper Midwest will enhance southerly flow for Wednesday, and will disrupt our brief, placid stretch of weather later in the day. Skies will mostly cloudy to overcast with highs in the mid 50s, and some light rain showers late in the day. Wednesday night will see scattered, light rain showers as the storm system approaches, with lows in the lower 40s.

As the low lifts ENE into Ontario Thursday, Tompkins County will be in its warm sector. Temperatures will be mild, but it will be grey and showery, with more persistent rains in the PM hours. Highs will be around 60. Thursday night will see periods of light to moderate rain, with the cold front approaching towards sunrise Friday. Lows will be in the lower 40s.

Friday will still be mild, as a second storm system over the Ohio River Valley impedes northwesterly flow, at the expense of cloudy skies and periods of rain. Steadier rains will give way to rain showers for the afternoon and evening, with near-overcast skies. Temperatures will top out in the mid 50s, Friday night will see mostly cloudy skies with scattered rain showers as the storm system passes through the northeast, with lows in the upper 30s.

Looking ahead into next weekend, it will be cooler, but still quite a bit warmer than this weekend. The storm system will pass through and head into Atlantic Canada later Saturday, with rain ending Saturday and drier conditions for Sunday. Highs will be in the upper 40s both days, with lows in the mid to upper 30s.

Graphics courtesy of the NOAA Climate Prediction Center.

Extended Outlook

Looking towards the end of March, the 6-10 day outlook has warmer than normal conditions for the East Coast and Northeast, with moderation to near normal later in the period. A persistent upstream jet stream trough with cold air and storminess continues over the West Coast, while downstream ridging provides for milder air East of the Mississippi. However, moisture wicked up from the Gulf of Mexico and the jet stream’s passage over the Appalachians will result in slightly wetter-than-usual conditions for much of the Eastern U.S., Tompkins County included.

Brian Crandall

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