Winter is Coming

Hello, Oswego! Who’s ready for some snow? I think I am. I’m writing this blog while it is 62º outside, with a lake effect snow warning in effect for tomorrow and Monday. Oh, Upstate New York.

What goes into an Oswego winter, do you ask? Many things, that is. Being right on the shore of Lake Ontario, lake-effect is a huge factor in Oswego winter weather. Nor’easters, as well as other storm systems, also contribute to the piles of snow around here (those familiar with the blizzards of 1966, 1993, and 2016 will know all too well).

Our main driver of snow in Oswego involves Lake Ontario, in the form of lake-effect snow. In late fall and winter, cold air masses passing over the relatively warm waters of the lake aid in developing clouds, and eventually, snow. Lots of snow. Several other conditions must be met, however, to achieve maximum snow potential. Generally, to get heavy snow here in Oswego, we want the wind to be coming from the west. This would mean the wind would travel down the long axis of Lake Ontario, maximizing the amount of moisture added into the air. These winds must not be too strong nor too weak (15-30 mph is a good range), and also remain relatively constant in direction, or else a given area will not experience snow for a sustained period of time. Additionally, the air must not be too dry, or else all the moisture that would go into producing snow, will just evaporate.

In a typical season, Oswego will receive around 140″ of snowfall. Roughly 1/2 of this is lake-effect related. Last winter, this number was much lower due to persistent very mild conditions. I’m no expert on long-range forecasting, but I have a feeling we’ll see more snow this winter than last. Stay tuned!

P.s. Here’s some pictures of the lake at sunset last night. Don’t expect it to look like this come Monday.



About the Author

I am a junior meteorology major from Ithaca, NY that loves awesome adventures, beautiful Oswego sunsets, and the occasional bad pun.
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