If you don’t like the weather wait five miles

It’s about 11.4 miles from the CoCoRaHS amateur weather station in Camillus, NY (in the western suburbs of Syracuse, and near where I live) to the National Weather Service station at Syracuse’s Hancock Airport (northeast of the city). Last week Syracuse (that is, the airport) got 16.7 inches of snowfall. Camillus got 5.0 inches.

For Wednesday the score was Syracuse 13.7, Camillus 1.0. Snow depth the following day (which generally is less than the total of recent snowfall because snow melts and compresses) was 12 inches in Syracuse, 3 inches in Camillus.

Date
New snow Snow depth
Syracuse (0000-0000) Camillus (~0600-~0600) Syracuse (12Z) Camillus (~6:00)
10 Jan 2016 0.1 T 0 0
11 Jan 2016 T 0.0 0 T
12 Jan 2016 1.9 2.5 T 0
13 Jan 2016 13.7 1.0 7 2
14 Jan 2016 1.0 1.5 12 3
15 Jan 2016 T 0.0 10 3
16 Jan 2016 T 0.0 7 1.5
Total 16.7 5.0

You can get an idea of how this happens from the radar video:

The red line through Syracuse is the New York State Thruway. Local conventional wisdom is that snowfall gets much worse when you go north of the Thruway. The airport is just north of it; Camillus is a couple miles or so south of it. In the video a lot of the time there’s precipitation spread across the general area, but at other times there’s a classic lake effect snow band coming off Lake Ontario, stretching many miles east but very narrow north to south, and usually somewhere north of the Thruway. See 0:14 into the video for instance:Screenshot 2016-01-17 at 9

Driving north-south through one of these bands is interesting. You can have no precipitation at all at two points five miles apart and near white-out snowfall in between. I saw that a lot when we lived in Parish, about 35 miles north of Syracuse; I also saw that these bands sometimes wander north and south, and then sometimes just park right on top of where you live for a week.

Last Wednesday I wasn’t in Camillus or Syracuse (or Parish); I was in Newport News, Virginia, which wasn’t getting any snow at all. But my car was at the Syracuse airport. When I parked it there on Monday — having put a shovel and some boots in the car before I left home — I noticed the outdoor lot had many empty spaces so I figured it was worth checking in the parking garage, and sure enough I found a space in there. $6 more but totally worth it. I did break out the snowblower for the first time this season once I arrived home, but even if I’d been shoveling by hand, doing the entire driveway wouldn’t have been much more effort than shoveling around the car and clearing it off had it been in an outdoor space at the airport.

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