Our warm, record-breaking weather will come to a quick end tonight. A cold front is approaching from the west and it will go to work not only the warm air but increasingly moist air over us. Dewpoints, the measure of moisture in the air, was in the 50s as of mid afternoon Wednesday! That’s something more commonplace for later in the spring, not the end of January. The bottom line is our rain will increase this evening as the front draws closer and it could come down hard at times with some thunder possible. There are signs that there will be a corridor of heaviest rain close to and just southeast of Syracuse early tonight where one to two inches of rain could fall. With that rain falling in a short period of time, minor flooding could be an issue over central New York.
While some strong winds are possible in any heavy rain early tonight, widespread strong, potentially damaging winds are most likely late tonight into tomorrow morning as colder air rushes into central New York. Winds will be strongest the farther north you go as these areas will be closet to a departing storm heading into eastern Canada. Winds could gusts to 60 mph from Syracuse north which is strong enough to bring trees and tree limbs down and cause power outages. While the winds will be at their strongest in the morning it will remain rather windy right through the afternoon.
The strong west winds tomorrow will usher in colder and colder air. This air will travel across Lake Ontario where it will modify and build into a band of heavier lake effect snow by late morning. The wind direction should stay very consistent out of the west Thursday which will put areas east of Lake Ontario at the greatest risk of heavy snow, especially the Tug Hill Plateau. By early evening there could be a foot or more of snow in the most persistent snow. We expect mainly flurries with little if any accumulation outside this main area of lake effect Thursday.
We are still keying in on a shift in the wind Thursday night from the west to the northwest as a jet stream disturbance moves through central New York. That will cause the heavier lake effect snow to shift south. We think the most likely time for the lake effect to move into the Syracuse area is late at night or close to daybreak Friday. If this happens, the Friday morning commute could be difficult in and around the Syracuse area.