ITHACA, N.Y. — Your travel plans for the Thanksgiving holiday are looking wet, windy and a little slippery, but thankfully some of the more dire forecasts of heavy snows and major disruptions have been substantially dialed back in the latest model runs. Turkey Day itself is looking to be quiet and cool, with another round of inclement weather possible next weekend.

Your Weekly Weather

It’s a fairly cloudy close to the weekend as a weak cold front sags southeastward across Upstate New York, stirring up some lake effect snow and rain showers downwind of Lake Ontario. Temperatures will gradually fall as the day goes on, with temperatures in the upper 30s across much of Tompkins County by sunset. While there will be bands of rain and snow showers in the region, the bulk of the precip will stay to the north of Tompkins County, and so only light rainfall amounts are expected (and its too warm for the snow to stick right now). Lake-effect bands will weaken as the northwest winds wind down tonight, leaving dry if mostly cloudy conditions for the Ithaca area, and lows in the upper 20s.

Monday will offer some brief quiet as a bubble of Canadian high pressure moves southeastward across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. Skies will be partly to mostly sunny, but the cold air of the high will keep temperatures below normal with highs around 40. Monday night will see mostly cloudy skies, and winds begin to turn light from the southeast as the next storm system nears. Lows will be in the mid 20s.

Now, I do want to give a little more attention to this storm system coming in from the Midwest, because there’s been some news coverage ringing alarms. Some of the forecast models Friday and Saturday did suggest it could become a major snow event, with the American GFS favoring a colder scenario with a major event, while the European and most other models favored warmer outcomes. There was also concern about major lake effect snow bands developing for Wednesday through Friday, after the storm passed.

However, the more recent runs have coalesced around the warmer solution, which involves the core of the low lifting through Upstate New York and keeping mixed/frozen precip well to the north of most region of NYS. In addition, confidence has decreased on a major lake effect snow event following the storm. It’s not that we’re completely “out of the woods”, but the chance of a major disruption to holiday travel is considerably lower than it was 24 hours ago.

One things that does need to be noted is that, with temps in the mid and upper 20s Tuesday morning as the first batches of precipitation come in from the storm as it rides up Lake Erie, there will be a few hours of patchy, light mixed precip. So do be careful during your morning commute Tuesday, because there might be a transition period of snow, to sleet or freezing rain, and then just cold rain, and roads may be slick. Also, winds will rise to 30-35 MPH Tuesday evening, so there might be a few branches or early Christmas decor on the roadways.

But otherwise, with the low passing around if not slightly north of Ithaca, a gusty south breeze and periods of moderate rain are currently expected, with highs around 40. Tuesday night will see periods of light to moderate rain with strong south winds and temperatures rising to the mid 40s by sunrise.

Looking at Wednesday, the winds will turn to breezy from the northwest by late afternoon as the low’s cold front passes, but rain will wind down as the day goes on, with only a few scattered showers by the afternoon. Skies will be near-overcast with highs in the mid to upper 40s. Wednesday night will host breezy northwest winds and partly cloudy skies with lows around 30.

Broad if somewhat weak high pressure from the southwest takes the reins for Thanksgiving Day Thursday. It will be partly cloudy with highs in the lower 40s and a northwest wind in the high’s clockwise circulation. Thursday night will be partly cloudy with lows in the upper 20s.

Friday looks to be another quiet day as high pressure reorients towards the Midwest but maintains a hold on Tompkins County. Highs will be in the lower 40s under partly cloudy skies. Friday night will see mostly cloudy skies with lows around 30.

The models are hinting at a coastal low that may bring both liquid and frozen precipitation Saturday night into Sunday, but it’s a little too soon to provide specifics. At this point, it’s looking like highs around 40 both Saturday and Sunday, with lows in the upper 20s.

Graphics courtesy of the NOAA Climate Prediction Center.

Extended Outlook

Looking into the end of November and start of December, the large-scale pattern favors a broad trough in the jet stream that would result in below normal temperatures for practically the entire lower 48 with the exception of the fringes of the California coast and south Florida. At least Alaska gets to enjoy an anomalous warm upstream ridge. On the precip side, a broad trough like this tends to keep storms over the Southeast U.S. with the prevailing storm track displaced further south than usual. Precip in Tompkins County is expected to be near normal for the period – and arguably, given the cooler-than-normal conditions expected, the chances for snow would be a little elevated.

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