Winters in Syracuse are changing

Winter Outlook 2020

SYRACUSE, NY (WSYR-TV)– Winters in Syracuse aren’t quite what they used to be.

We know this is true because we look at averages like the one we show you on the daily almanac or all the ones included in our storm team calendar.

Every 10 years, the averages are updated. These updated numbers reflect the middle ground 30 years’ worth of highs, lows, rain and snow. It’s done that way so scientists can better gauge our climate, or our long-term weather patterns.

Using those averages, we noticed our average winter temperature has gone up by about two degrees, yet our average snowfall has gone up a whole foot and a half!

I know what you might be thinking, if we’re warm how can we have more snow? Overall, our average winter temperature has gone up to 26.8 degrees. Our temperatures are still plenty cold enough to have snow. Temperature variations and cold snaps still exist too.

While we may be measuring more snow, it’s not sticking around too long after it falls. Since 1951, the number of days with at least 1″ of snow on the ground has shrunk by 8 days. This brings us to a total of 80 days with measurable snow on the ground.

A perfect example would be comparing the winter of 1959-1960 with that of 2016-2017. The total snowfall is almost exactly the same, the difference is how long that snow stayed on the ground. 103 days in 1959-1960 compared to only 75 days in 2016-2017. In the more recent winter, that’s a whole month less of snow on the ground!

We’ve also noticed that Spring has made the winter season feel a little longer. March and April have become almost half a degree colder and ultimately, snowier too. Overall, total snowfall for March and April since 1951 has gone up about 12%.

YEARSSNOWFALL
1951-198020.1″
1961-199019.3″
1971-200023.7″
1981-201021.9″
1991-202022.8″

So no, winters on average aren’t like they used to be in the 1950s. They’re warmer, they’re snowier but unfortunately for the skiers and snowmobilers the snow that falls doesn’t stay on the ground for long, even if it’s falling from the sky into April.

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