Liquid Sunshine

The end of the semester is near! For us college students, that means hitting the books, gearing up for finals, lots of studying, and eventually getting our stuff together and heading back home. Meanwhile, for the weather, this time of year represents change. Colder temps give way to warm and pleasant weather, daylight length increases, and snow is all but history. (Usually.) It can be torture if you are stuck inside studying on a glorious 70º day…

The last week and a half has presented spring in earnest here in Oswego. It has reached 70º on campus on four different days, with two of those going above 80. Daffodils have bloomed, and shrubbery is just starting to grow leaves. Spring rain showers have been plentiful, as well.

As a matter of fact, the Great Lakes region as a whole has had enough rain this spring to cause Lake Ontario to rise a full 10″ in the past two weeks. It is noticeable from the lakeshore on campus, as some of the areas that were previously above water are now underwater, or are at least vulnerable to being splashed on by waves. Watch where you sit while you watch the sunset!

A side effect has been more dramatic crashing waves at the shoreline. I have been taking photos of these waves around sunset, creating a series of “Liquid Sunshine” shots. Take a look:


April 8, 2017


April 8, 2017


April 16, 2017

All of these pictures were taken behind Waterbury Hall.

The upcoming weather pattern looks cooler this week, yet still spring-like, with high temps largely in the 50s and 60s. Probably a few windy and wavy days, as well. See ya around, Oswegonians!

“Wave” to the sky!

Hello, Oswego! Spring is finally beginning to make its appearance on campus, with grass turning green, daffodils budding, and milder temperatures making their appearance.


Ice pile on the shore of Lake Ontario at Rudy’s Drive-in, March 25, 2017. These are long gone after last week’s warmth!

While the weather itself has been fairly inactive the past couple of weeks, that does not make for a shortage of interesting sky formations. Last Saturday night, a type of cloud that even I had never seen before made its appearance in the sunset-colored sky.

That cloud happened to be the Kelvin-Helmholtz wave cloud. It looks like a series of “ocean waves” in the sky, and is an indicator of horizontal wind shear. That is when the wind changes direction with increasing altitude. For example, the wind may be out of the west 5,000 feet above the ground, but out of the northwest at 8,000 feet. This shear produces a “rolling” motion in the air, swirling the cloud cover into that wavy pattern that we see from the ground.


Kelvin-Helmholtz wave clouds at sunset, April 1, 2017.


This upcoming week looks to bring even warmer (and drier!) weather to the region. Here in Oswego, we may have to deal with the dreaded lake breeze, which could limit the magnitude of the warmth locally. More on that in my next post. Until next time!

Happy Second Winter!

Hello once again, Oswegonians.

The middle of the semester has been a tough one, both mentally and weather-wise! The weather has been flip-floppy, going from a mild February pattern featuring several 60º+ days to a snowy and cold March in a matter of days. Welcome back to winter, round 2!!

The weather…well, that went on spring break too, apparently. Mid last week, a large nor’easter tracked up the coast, delivering snow that was measured in feet to nearly all of New York State. Oswego measured approximately 10 inches from this event, however the wind whipped up some 3-6 foot drifts across campus. My area (Ithaca) received between 15-27 inches of snow, while some locales in the western Catskills and Mohawk Valley picked up well over 30″. Talk about snowed in!

Today, Mother Nature has delivered a fleeting shot of Arctic air to Oswego, with the high barely climbing above 20º. Classic Spring weather moves in by Friday, with lots of rain showers in the forecast right into next week. Bye bye, snow and cold. Hopefully we can add some warm, dry days to the mix in the near future.

I’ll hopefully have another post soon with more content. Until then, have a great week Oswego!


Snow dunes at the Lake Ontario shoreline behind Waterbury Hall on Sunday, March 19. This are the result of 3 straight days of cold wind, driving freezing waves into the shore. Do not walk on them – they are often not stable and you risk falling through into icy cold water!


Sunset on Sunday, March 19.

Summer in February

Hello, Oswego!

You’ve now survived 5 weeks of classes, and spring break is less than 2 weeks away!

Mother Nature appears to have taken her own sort of spring break this week. Normally, we’d still be in the 30s at this time of year with the threat of snow storms. However, temperatures have soared above 60º on several days, putting spring fever into full effect. Crazy!

As a matter of fact, many locations in the Northeast and Midwest U.S. have set new *all-time* February record high temperatures. A large-scale pattern shift prompted the warm temperatures. High pressure, which brings fair weather, took hold over the eastern US last weekend. The high acted to pull warm air from the South northward, and coupled with the usual heating a location receives from the Sun, produced anomalously warm temperatures as a result. Further, a storm system late this week helped draw even warmer air northward. Syracuse, NY set its all-time February high of 71º on Friday. That kind of warmth is normal for late-May!


The sunset on Wednesday, Feb. 22.


Thunderstorm shelf cloud as seen from Shineman on Saturday, Feb. 25. This storm was along the front that put an end to the Spring-like warmth of late. (Sad face.)

Here in Oswego, a number of interesting factors came into play while the warm spell was ongoing. Most notably, on Friday, while Syracuse and other parts of CNY basked in 70-degree warmth, Oswego remained in the 40s much of the day. This was due to a stationary front, or a separation of warm and cool air masses that (relatively speaking) does not move, that set up shop just to the south of Oswego. Later that evening, when this front lifted northward, campus warmed from 38º to 65º in about one hour!

This upcoming week looks like a roller coaster of temperatures. Midweek looks mild, while next weekend looks wintry. Hang on tight, folks, spring is just around the corner!


“Spring is just around the corner.” Ha ha.

Snow, snow, and more snow…

Hello Oswego, and welcome to the Spring 2017 semester!

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Matt Seymour, a sophomore meteorology major here at SUNY Oswego. Some may know me as the “Sassy Weatherman.” (plug: follow my Twitter @SassyWeatherman and you’ll eventually figure out why). I am active in the school’s meteorology club, and I enjoy being outdoors and taking photographs.

And what a start it has been to the semester, weather-wise. Two significant lake effect snow events have occurred in the past two weeks. Neither produced huge snow accumulation in Oswego, but the Tug Hill Plateau (northeast of Oswego) has been hammered. Redfield, NY, a small town on the southern Tug Hill, has picked up 120″ (10 FEET) of snow since January 26. Videos have been posted of people literally jumping into the snow and being buried head to toe instantly. Now that’s some powder!!!

Here in Oswego, we have been missed by the majority of these snows. I’d estimate that campus has picked up around 20-25″ of snow in that same timeframe. Why’s this? Blame the lake effect. A single band of lake effect snow often isn’t more than a few miles wide, so it is capable of highly localized snowfall. It literally could be sunny in one location, and then a mile down the road it’s snowing and blowing with drifts waist deep. In a nutshell, this is what happened to Oswego during this past week. The snow band set up (on several occasions) just to the north or south of campus. Locations on either side picked up 2-4 times as much snow as campus. However, when it did snow here, it came down fast and furious. There were even two instances of thundersnow! (For those who keep track, we have now had 8 instances of thundersnow this winter in Oswego.)

This week, a mid-week warm up looks to bring rain, wind, mild temps and melting snow. Lake effect is once again possible Thursday. Will it hit campus, that remains to be seen. Regardless, have a great week all!!!


Hello once again, Oswego!

This past Thursday night (Dec. 8), campus experienced one of the world’s wildest wonders of nature: Thundersnow.


Screen capture from a video I had rolling during the thundersnow, around 11:15 Thursday night. It almost looks like daytime!

It is exactly as it sounds: Lightning and thunder that occurs while it is snowing outside. While rare for any part of the globe, it is about a once or twice-a-year occurrence here in Oswego.

The process that goes into creating thundersnow is very similar to that of an ordinary thunderstorm. In a nutshell, a charge separation builds up between the clouds and the ground, and a discharge in the form of lightning ensues. However, it is much harder to create this charge separation during the colder months.

Here in Oswego (or anywhere near a Great Lake, for that matter), we have a secret weapon: Lake Ontario. During lake effect snow, combinations of conditions can come together to create such a charge separation. For this event, there were three main factors. The first was the “background” ongoing lake effect snow event, which had dropped well over a foot of snow on the Tug Hill. Lake effect circulations provides lift to the atmosphere, creating tall, thick clouds capable of producing precipitation (in this case, snow). Second, an incoming cold front provided a boost to this lift. Third, small circulations known as mesovortices developed within the lake effect snow band. This created “cells” with appearance on radar similar to a summertime pop-up thunderstorm. All of these factors combined to generate enough of a charge separation for lightning in the Oswego area.

Other areas away from the Great Lakes experience thundersnow as well, however conditions aren’t usually favorable in other systems (think nor’easters) as often as they are in lake effect.

So, now you know why Jim Cantore goes wild every time he experiences thundersnow. In the upcoming week, several chances for snow exist, namely Sunday night and Thursday-ish. Keep an eye to the sky late week if you’re traveling home.

I’ll resume posts at the end of January. Have a great winter break!

Snow Day!

Hello Oswego! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving break.

In the week before break, we only had one day of classes because of a snow day on Monday (Nov. 21). Why did this happen, do you ask?

Firstly, and obviously, the snow. It snowed, and snowed, and snowed, nearly constantly from Sunday afternoon into Tuesday morning. The lake effect machine just would not quit! The city of Oswego picked up about a foot and a half from this storm. Other areas of upstate NY picked up 20-30″, indeed making it a historic lake-effect event for the region. Campus, however, only received a couple inches, because it all blew away!

The wind was the other major component of this storm. While the snow did not necessarily pile up, the strong winds blew it all around, and likely this was the main driving factor in the decision to cancel classes. Wind speeds generally ranged in the 30-45 mph range from Sunday to Tuesday, with a top gust of 70 mph recorded Monday evening at the Oswego buoy!


Angry lake on Monday, Nov. 21.

Since then, all of the snow we received melted fairly rapidly, and it has generally been mild with occasional light rain events. No major weather is in the offing in the next week. Happy almost-finals, Oswego!

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.



The End of Autumn is Near!

Hello again, Oswego!

Last weekend, daylight saving time ended, leaving us with an extra hour of sleep. Hope you all enjoyed it, and I hope it did not mess up your internal clock! For me, it means getting new weather model data an hour earlier. #MetMajorThings

The past week-and-a-half has not featured much active weather here in Oswego. There has been a decent uptick in the wind this week, which generally has blown down all the beautiful fall foliage that was found across campus just this time last week. I managed to grab some pictures over last weekend of the fleeting tree color:



These trees are now bare, thanks to the strong winds of the past few days. Just this morning, we had several gusts of 50 mph recorded either on campus or at the Oswego buoy station, located near the Lighthouse.

We have also experienced an unusual abundance of sunshine relative to November standards this week. Normally, for about 4/5 of all days in the month, Oswego would experience mostly cloudy to cloudy conditions. This week has featured only 1 such day.


Lake Ontario at sunset, Nov. 9


Sun rays (scientifically: crepuscular rays) bursting through the clouds, Nov. 9

As we head deeper into November, the temperature will continue to decrease. Whether you’re ready or not, snow in Oswego will be a thing once again over the coming months. It may be delayed a bit this year, however, as the overall weather pattern in the Northeast U.S. looks to trend warmer than average for the second half of the month.

My next post will focus on the (sometimes dreaded, sometimes beloved) Oswego snow, and what goes int0 the making of an Oswego snowstorm. Have a great weekend!

Fall Foliage Fun

Happy November, Oswego!

The season of fall has progressed quickly, and is now 2/3 over, from a meteorological standpoint. Meteorological seasons are a little different from regular seasons – for example, fall runs from ~Sept. 21 to ~Dec. 21 on the calendar, but meteorological fall runs from Sept. 1 to Nov. 30. The reasoning for this is that meteorological seasons are based around times of temperature change (spring and fall) or non-change (summer and winter). It also is easier to keep track of!

Anyways, here’s an update to what’s happening in the trees around campus! Lots of colorful leaves have blossomed over the past couple of weeks, and I had a chance to check out the color a couple days ago.


Maple trees adorn in yellow along the road to Hidden Fields. Photo credit: Matthew Seymour


Maples in front of Culkin Hall, Oct. 30. Photo credit: Matthew Seymour


Trees near Littlepage and Glimmerglass, Oct. 30. Photo credit: Matthew Seymour


Oak tree in the quad, Oct. 30. Photo credit: Matthew Seymour

Foliage conditions on campus were generally mixed. About 1/4 of all trees were bare and prepared for the long winter ahead, while another 1/2 had leaves in fall colors, and the last 1/4 were still mostly green. The area around the Lakeside dorms generally had the most green trees left, while Central Campus, The Village and Hidden Fields (the athletic fields near the Village) held the most fall-colored foliage.

While these conditions are similar to what Oswego experienced during autumn last year, I continue to be surprised by the longevity of the foliage season. I am originally from the Ithaca, NY area, which is typically on its tail end of fall foliage season at this time. Oswego’s season, in my opinion, is peaking right now, and if not will peak later this week.

Lake Ontario, in part, helps locally change the timing of foliage emergence on campus. The lake typically keeps nighttime temperatures from dropping too low. Trees require cool nights, in combination with mild days, in order to produce maximum color. Additionally, the overall weather pattern has been mild. Until about a week ago, nights were generally mild to warm, prolonging the foliage season. The recent colder weather has finally jump-started the trees’ preparation for winter.

Weather conditions this week will generally be drier and warmer than last week, but not perfectly dry nor perfectly warm. Every day this week, except Thursday, should offer plenty of dry time to get outside and check out nature’s beauty. Have a great week, Oswegonians!