Meteorologists say 6 to 11 inches possible in Finger Lakes Region

Winter weather will be returning to the Finger Lakes region late Thursday and may make for a tricky Friday morning commute.

The National Weather Service out of Buffalo has issued a winter storm watch effective from late Thursday night through Friday evening with heavy snow possible in several counties including Ontario, Monroe and Wayne.

“The system right now is over Oklahoma,” NWS Meteorologist Dan Kelly said Wednesday afternoon. “That's supposed to track up across northern Pennsylvania, then move offshore and become a nor'easter and bring some wrap-around snow. It starts off as rain. We're expecting rain to persist through the day, and late Thursday, early Friday, we're looking at that to switch over to snow. The thing with the changeover is the track of the storm system.”

He said if the storm tracks north, the temperatures will be warmer and there will be less snow, but if the storm tracks south, it will keep the area cooler and produce more snow. The latest projection Wednesday afternoon was for 6 to 11 inches of snow, with more accumulating in higher elevations

Kelly said the storm will be more widespread than bands of lake-effect, with winds from the north/northwest at about 15 to 20 mph, so he said there could be some blowing.

“Snow persists through the day on Friday, tapering off late Friday,” he said. “If you have to travel, make sure you allow extra time to reach your destination.”

Kelly also said the snow will be wetter and a little heavier and cautioned shovelers to take it easy.

Forecasters are not looking for ice accumulations so do not expect widespread power outages or downed trees, which are lighter this time of year without leaves.

Flooding is also not expected, although Kelly said some creeks and streams could reach full bank if the shift to snow happens later.

“The latest information we're getting is there is still some indecision on the storm line and accumulation of rain, freezing rain and snow,” said Ontario County Sheriff Phil Povero. “However, as an organization, we have policies and procedures in place that will deal with notifications to the public.”

He suggests checking his department's and the county's webpages, as well as social media for the latest posted advisories.

“We urge people, if they do have to get out, to give themselves plenty of time,” Povero said. “Understand that the snow on the road will be wet and that can contribute to slushy conditions and make their car swerve.”

With the storm expected to impact the Friday morning commute, Povero said it is highly likely some of his overnight staff could be held over to assist with the rush-hour traffic that generates the most weather-related service calls with cars in accidents or running off the road. Additional staffing may be added to the 911 Center, as well, if needed.

“Looking back on the winter weather that we have experienced since November, we have not received an extraordinary number of calls for service related to the storms,” he said. “I thank the motorists in the county for their understanding of the very demanding responsibility of our snowplow operators. It's essential that we allow these truck drivers to do their job. I urge motorists to give snowplows plenty of distance between vehicles and discourage attempting to pass while they're plowing.”

Ontario County Public Works Commissioner Bill Wright was also tracking the storm to communicate with the towns that plow the county roads in their jurisdictions.

“We're prepared, but we also want to track it,” he said. “This is still February. Our biggest snows are in late February into March. We're not surprised by this.”