A Sudden-Onset Winter Wonderland, As Blizzard Hits Upstate

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After a pretty mild fall so far, today reminds New Yorkers that, in fact, winter is coming. Nine inches of snowfall was reported in the central New York towns of Mexico and Parish on Sunday, while city residents suddenly had to dig out scarves not worn since last year’s winter that stretched into what should have been spring.

The icy Sunday snowfall was attributed to the “lake effect,” when a cold air mass passes over a warm body of water — in this case, Lake Ontario — causing the rising warm air to condense and turn into moisture. Next thing you know, you’re shoveling out snow to find the grill you used, like, two weeks ago to cook your breakfast because frozen tree limbs have cut off your power, which is what happened to Parish residents this weekend.

Besides power outages, nearly 50 accidents were reported in the Syracuse area, which led to the closure of I-81 for several hours on Sunday. One predawn pileup snagged 11 cars because of the icy conditions on the interstate.

Forecasters point out that the snowfall coincides with historical averages for the area. The earliest snowfall on record for Syracuse was on October 1, 1946. On average, residents are accustomed to seeing the first snowflakes drop on November 4. So, in the bigger picture, this weekend’s event was hardly out of the ordinary. 

Forecasters say the weekend blizzard was a deviation from the standard fall forecast. Temperatures are expected to even out in central New York as residents can expect light showers later this week, with highs in the low 60s. In the longer run, don’t forget that El Niño is coming, and it just might be Godzilla-like. In the Northeast, that should mean a warmer, drier winter.