Ithaca weather provides an opportunity for you to experience all four seasons, sometimes in the same day. Normal winter low temperatures drop to 15°F with occasional dips to -10°F. Normal summer high temperatures reach 80°F with occasion periods over 90°F.
Severe weather for the Ithaca region includes winter snow (an annual average of 64 inches of snow), ice storms, tornadoes, floods, hazardous temperatures, and severe thunderstorms with dangerous lightning, high winds, heavy rain, and hail. Understanding the local weather and preparing for it can help keep you comfortable and safe. The information below will guide you to local weather forecast resources and National Weather Service safety information about the common weather hazards in our region.
University Operations During Inclement Weather
While Cornell strives to minimize disruptions due to inclement weather there are times when normal university operations are suspended due to severe weather. For details related to inclement weather refer to the Inclement Weather Frequently Asked Questions and university Policy 8.2: Inclement Weather.
- National Weather Service
- National Weather Service Forecast for Ithaca, NY
- The National Weather Service Binghamton Forecast Office web site has a wide variety of weather forecast and safety products related to our region.
- Commercial Weather Service Products
You can receive severe weather warnings and other emergency alerts by subscribing to New York Alert or other community notification services. Customized alerts can be received by phone, text message, e-mail, and fax.
You can also receive weather alerts using a NOAA Weather Radio.
Thunderstorms and Lightning
Thunderstorms with lightning are common during the late spring, summer, and early fall. Thunderstorms can include heavy rain, high winds, hail, and dangerous lightning. It is never safe to be outdoors or in tents or sheds during thunderstorms. Take shelter inside substantial buildings and stay away from windows and doors. Heavy rain can quickly cause flash flooding, especially in low lying areas like Cornell’s gorges.
New York is not usually thought of as a tornado-prone state but in the last several decades we have seen an average of 9 tornadoes per year. Always pay attention to severe weather warnings, especially tornado warnings, and take immediate action when warnings are issued. Tornadoes in New York State are frequently associated with severe thunderstorms.
Floods and Flash Floods
Flooding is a common threat throughout New York State and flash flood conditions can develop quickly with little warning. Heavy rainfall and ice or debris jams upstream can cause flash flooding in Cornell’s gorges even if there is no severe weather on campus.
It is never safe to walk or drive through flooded areas. You can’t determine the depth or speed of the water or see what is underneath the surface. Pedestrians and vehicles can be quickly swept away by moving water. Turn Around Don’t Drown®
Despite Ithaca’s temperate climate we do experience periods of extreme cold and hot temperatures.
Cold temperatures accompanied by wind cause windchill conditions that cause you to loose heat faster than normal. High temperatures accompanied by high relative humidity cause high heat index conditions, a measure of how hot it feels. Cold windchill and high heat index conditions impact your body’s ability to maintain a safe temperature.
- Cold Safety
- Heat Safety
Ithaca is well known for its winter weather and you should be prepared for cold, snow, and ice. Proper winter footwear, warm clothing and cold weather outerwear will be important as you travel around campus during the winter. Be prepared if you have to drive in winter weather conditions. Winterize your vehicle, carry a vehicle emergency supply kit, monitor road conditions, and reduce speed when driving on wet, snow covered, or icy roads.
Watches, Warnings, Advisories Oh My!
National Weather Service watches, warnings, and advisories are a frequent source of confusion. Here is a quick way to remember what each one means.
- Watches tell you to get prepared for severe weather that may occur in the future. The severe weather is possible but hasn’t occurred yet so get ready for it.
- Warning are telling you to take action to protect yourself because severe weather is imminent or happening now.
- Advisories mean you should be aware of weather conditions that are occurring or will occur and that may impact your activities.
The National Weather Service has a Winter Weather Warnings, Watches, and Advisories web page that provides detailed descriptions of each winter weather product.
Ithaca’s weather is one reason many people love to live in this region. We hope you are able to take time out of your busy schedules and enjoy the wonderful Ithaca weather, no matter the season.
Ithacation is Ithaca’s special variety of winter weather but it can occur from fall through springtime and UrbanDictionary.com defines Ithacating as:
“A type of precipitation that is unidentifiable – it is usually a mixture of snow/hail/rain/slush coming from the dark grey sky, while it is absurdly cold outside.”
As in: “It’s Ithacating out there and I am wet and frozen and don’t want to go to lab.”