With Syracuse’s first 50 degree reading of the year Wednesday and temperatures flirting with 40s heading toward the end of the month of February, the question arises: Is this it for Winter?
Long time Central New York residents know not to get their hopes up too high heading into March. We’ve seen too many big storms in March during the past.
There was March 2018 when we squeezed two big snowstorms and over 40 inches of snow into the first half of the month.
Then, of course, there is the Blizzard of ’93. That struck in the middle of the month and dropped just over 43 inches of snow in two and a half days.
However, we think there are a couple of things to look for this March point against big snow.
First, the pattern that brought us the near constant mid-Winter weather the last three to four weeks has broken down. It is hard to imagine that kind of sustained cold and snow trying to set up again in March.
Some of data we look at is backing up the idea of a lack of cold for the first few week to 10 days of the month.
The jet stream winds aloft look to remain fairly zonal (west to east) over the Northeast and there is no strong ‘blocking’ area of high pressure over Greenland that would normally keep any cold air in place over us for more than a day or two at a time.
That is mirrored by the latest 8 to 14 day Outlook which goes almost into the middle of March and shows above normal temperatures likely in the East.
That’s important if you aren’t a big fan of snow because if we make it through mid-March without any significant snowfall, climatology swings quickly to our favor. Over the last 30 years, around 70% of our meaningful March snows (days with at least 3 inches of snow) occur by March 15 and only 29% happen after that.
That would make sense because the sun is getting higher and higher in the sky and by the end of March the ‘average’ high in Syracuse is 50 degrees.
However, that breakdown hasn’t always been the case.
In the first 30 years of Syracuse airport records (1950-1979), you were more likely to have a meaningful March snowfall the last half of the month (52%) than during the first half (48%)! That is one notable change to our climate over the past 70 years.
Again, to emphasize, this doesn’t mean we can’t have cold and snow this March. We are saying that any winter weather in Central New York going forward looks to be fleeting
Stay tuned. We’ll keep you posted on any changes to our March pattern.