Strong low pressure centered north of Montreal, Canada swept a cold front through the region last night, and consequently, our record warmth out to sea. Additionally, this low is chiefly responsible for potentially damaging wind gusts today. This has prompted High Wind Warnings or Advisories for the entire region this afternoon. We have already seen gusts at 63 mph in Penn Yan and 60 mph in Wolcott! While the winds will remain gusty this afternoon across central New York, we have just passed what we think will be the peak in our winds. Since winds are coming out of the west, they will import colder air into the region and allow for lake effect snow to continue off of both Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.
Off Lake Ontario, with the wind coming from the west and even west-southwest, lake effect snow will impact areas between Oswego and Watertown…and in particular… the Tug Hill Plateau region. So far there hasn’t been much organization to this Lake Ontario snow but we think there should be more of a distinct band of heavy snow developing this afternoon as the cold air aloft strengthens over us. By early evening there could be a foot or more of snow in the most persistent lake effect, especially over the higher terrain east of Lake Ontario.
Off of Lake Erie, with such strong wind speeds, lake effect snow is likely to travel well away from its origin and into parts of Central New York. Thus, we think lake effect flurries and snow showers may give a light accumulation (2” or less) for areas along and south of Rt. 20 and especially west of Syracuse over the Finger Lakes region.
Back to the Lake Ontario snow band: we are still keying in on a shift in the wind this evening and tonight 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 and eventually into the immediate CNY/Syracuse area. Current indications suggest lake effect snow may find its way into the Syracuse area sometime around or after midnight. There are indications that the snow band should break up sometime Friday morning, before eventually re-developing during the day. Be alert that the snow could make for a rough commute in the Syracuse area.
Several inches of snow are a distinct possibility as the band moves south this evening and tonight. The upshot of it all is that the morning commute to work and school tomorrow may be challenging. Chilly temperatures along with the threat of snow showers and/or lake effect snow will persist into the weekend.
One last thing to keep in mind is possible river flooding. The Tioughnioga River in Cortland is forecast to reach minor flood levels today, peak overnight, and finally come below flood stage Friday evening. The Chenango River in Sherburne will reach peak levels at minor flood stage this afternoon before falling below flood stage tonight.