However, No One Said Anything About October

14 10 2009

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So, yeah, it’s been cold. Unpleasantly cold. Coldest October in years cold. But what makes me really uncomfortable is the thought of snow is October. While snow in October usually has no impact on the upcoming winter, it still serves as a psychological bitchslap to most of the students, and to many of the local who are accustomed to waiting until November to see the first notable snowfalls.

Then we have this message from the Ithaca Journal:

Storm coming to Twin Tiers could bring snow

There’s a couple of very scary things associated with that message. For one, we still have leaves on the trees. Trees don’t stand up very well if they have both a fair amount of snow and foliage on them at the same time. There was a very nasty snowstorm that hit Buffalo a couple of years back that brought the city to its knees in October because it dumped  two feet of snow, and all the trees basically snapped under the weight. As I recall, some places were without power for two weeks, and the storm damages were estimated between $150 and $200 million.

Fear factor aside, the possibility of snow in Ithaca in October is a lot more uncommon than it used to be. Climatologically speaking, Ithaca averages about .4 inches of snow in October. In reality, we’ve only received measurable snow once this decade, and that was .3 inches on October 30, 2008. Prior to that, we have to go back to October 31, 1993, which received 3.7 inches, and .1 inches on October 29, 1990. That’s it for the past twenty years (to be fair, October 22-23, 1988 received 6.5 inches of snow). I took the time to check the following winter after 1993 and 1988; 1989 was about 3 degrees above normal; 1994 was one of the coldest winters reported in several decades. Yeah, I still have fingers crossed for El Niño.

Point is, we’ve rarely seen October snows. Especially before the 20th. You have to go back to 1974 to find a pre October 20th snowfall day on file.

So, Ithaca is in a valley, which makes it a kinda crappy place for snowfall because they tend to be slightly warmer, and it doesn’t experience an upslope effect like Cornell’s campus does. Unfortunately, the Ithaca weather station used by the NRCC is on Game Farm Road, which is off of Route 366 as you’re heading out towards Dryden.It’s about 1000 ft. in elevation, and the snow line so far is predicted to be about 2000 ft, and that is subject to change.

I’m really not interested in seeing snow this month. But it’s not like any of us have a say in what the weather does.

EDIT: So Ithaca recorded 1.6 inches, setting a record for the earliest snow over 1” in over 120 years of data. Other parts of the county received as much as 3”. Northern PA recorded as much as 8”, and widespread power outages and minor damages were reported.


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14 02 2010
Julie

I used to row with the IHS crew team from the Cascadilla Boat House in Stewart Park. One October day in 1984 (’83?) a friend and I flipped our double scull with flurries in the air. While there may not have been measurable accumulation, I clearly remember how cold I was while while the flurries fell around us.

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