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Another Low Snow Winter Ahead?

OSWEGO, NY – Could we be in for another sub par winter?

According to Oswego’s observer for the National Weather Service, things are starting to shape up just like last year with a dearth of snow being a harbinger of the fate of winter 2010-11.

“We got our first real, measurable snow of the season on Saturday,” Bill Gregway said. “We have had some near-misses with a trace here and a trace there. But, on Saturday we got 0.6-inch.”

That pretty much all accumulated between 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., he noted.

In a brief burst of lake effect Sunday morning, the area added another 0.1-inch.

That brings the month’s total up to 0.7-inch; well below the average snowfall (9.1 inches) for November.

Temperatures are expected to hit the lower 50s the next few days before becoming more seasonable later in the week.

The last snowfall (of the winter of 2009-10) was Feb. 28, Gregway said, adding, “We had gone 271 days without any measurable snow.”

The previous span was from April 8 through Dec. 1 for a period of 236 days.

The Oswego area is more apt to get late spring snowfall while Onondaga County often sees more late fall snow.

Fulton also received its first snowfall of the winter of 2010-11. Saturday had 0.5-inch followed by another 0.5-inch on Sunday to jump out slightly ahead of Oswego’s total.

Last year, there was no snow in November in Oswego. The month ended with just a trace. The first measurable snowfall was 1.3 inches on Dec. 1.

Fulton had a snow-free November.

In 2008, Oswego’s first snowfall was 0.1-inch on Nov. 10. The month ended with 28.3 inches. However, the season’s total was 29.3 inches. That is because Gregway counted the 1 inch of damaging hail that fell on Aug. 10 in the snow column, he explained.

Fulton received its first snowfall of the season (1 inch) on Nov. 16 that year. At the end of the month, the total was 46 inches.

Oswego’s first snowfall in 2007 was 0.1-inch on Nov. 18. It finished the month with 0.8-inch.

Fulton had its first snowfall on Nov. 7 (1.25 inches) and finished the month with 6 inches.

The first snowfall in 2006 for Oswego was a bit earlier – 0.5-inch on Nov. 3. It wound up with 3.9 inches by the end of the month.

Fulton’s first snowfall was also 0.5-inch; but it came a day earlier. And, it had 3.5 inches by Nov. 30.

Oswego jumped out to an early start in 2005 with its first snowfall on Oct. 27 (0.1-inch). It added another 10.4 inches in November for a seasonal total of 10.5 inches at Nov. 30.

The first snowfall for Fulton arrived Nov. 17 (2 inches). It finished the month with 14.5 inches.

Oswego received a trace of snow on Oct. 17, 2004. But the first measurable snowfall (1.4 inches) didn’t arrive until Nov. 9. The Port City finished the month with 6.9 inches.

Fulton’s first snowfall that year was almost equal to Oswego’s total for November. On Nov. 9, Fulton got hit with 6.75 inches of snow and finished the month with 12 inches.

Does November snowfall, or lack thereof, indicate how the winter snow will accumulate?

November 2009 had just a trace of snow and the winter of 2009-10 languished below 100 inches as the days of February wound down. It wasn’t until Feb. 25 that 5.1 inches fell pushing the monthly total to 22.6 inches and nudging the winter’s total to 101 inches.

A snow band marched across the area the following day dumping 12.7 inches to seal the deal.

Another 1.8 inches on the 27th and 1.5 inches on the 28th finished out the winter’s snowfall for a total of 117 inches.

History is on our side to have a similar winter play out over the coming months.

According to Gregway’s figures, November 1948 received just a trace of snow. For that winter, the total was 64 inches. In 1960, November again had just a trace of snow. That winter’s total stalled at 74.5 inches.

In 1966, Oswego had no snow in November (the only time that has happened, so far). The total for the winter came in at 92 inches.

“In 2001, there was also just a trace of snow for November. We wound up with 70.6 inches over the course of the entire winter,” Gregway said.

In the last 111 winter seasons, seven have been greater than 200 inches – with 251.6 in 1971-72 ranking as number one.

Fifty-three have been greater than 100 inches. Twenty-five have been between 80 – 99 inches.

Twenty-one have been between 60 – 79 inches. Two have been in the 50s and three were in the 40s with the least snowiest being 47.4 inches in 1932-33.

The 2011 Farmers’ Almanac is also predicting a “kinder and gentler” winter for the contiguous United States.

The Almanac foretells much colder-than-normal winter temperatures for the eastern third of the nation.

Does that mean less than average snowfall for Oswego? They didn’t say.

The average snowfall is 150.8 inches.

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