Developing a Climatology of Snowfall Events in Oneonta, New York

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Sunday, 2 February 2014
Hall C3 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
David M. Loveless, State University of New York College, Oneonta, NY; and M. L. Godek

Handout (1.4 MB)

With a cold season average of 172 cm of snowfall since 1981, Oneonta, NY can be significantly impacted by snow events. Oneonta's situation between the much larger cities of Albany and Binghamton makes it an interesting location to analyze snowfall, especially since daily snow records have been collected for the city by the State University of New York College at Oneonta since 1981. The geography of upstate NY allows for Oneonta to receive snowfall from a variety of storm types including coastal storms, Colorado lows, and lake-effect storms. The goal of this research is to gain an improved understanding of snowfall events in Oneonta, NY by identifying storms that produce snow the most often, storms that produce the most intense snowfall, and by describing snowfall patterns in Oneonta through time. Storms capable of producing daily snowfall are manually identified using NWS Weather Prediction Center daily weather map archives. Days with measurable snowfall are then classified according to storm type and snowfall intensity. Finally, the influence of the North Atlantic Oscillation is analyzed for both specific storms and general seasonal tendencies, along with ENSO. Results indicate that snowfall is highly variable from season to season. Lake-effect snow and Alberta Clippers are found to be the most common types of snowfall in Oneonta. Coastal storms tend to produce the most significant (10.16 cm or greater) snowfall, despite Oneonta's inland location. Chances for significant snowfall tend to be greatest from late December through early March. Changes in snowfall patterns since 1981 are identified and show that the number of days with measurable snowfall tends to be increasing, as has the number of lake-effect snow days. Additionally, the first (last) day of snowfall has been occurring 0.46 (0.32) days earlier, on average, than in previous years. The season's first plowable (6.35 cm or greater) snowfall is found to occur progressively later each season by nearly half a day on average. However, the amount of storms producing significant snowfall each year does not seem to have changed over the 32 year period of study. This information is useful for improving long- and short-term winter forecasts in the Central Leatherstocking region of New York and has implications for improving snow removal processes in the city of Oneonta and surrounding communities.