Lake Ontario, Justin Bieber & You: A Guide to Global Warming & Lake Effect Snow

Downtown Syracuse, NY (via Flickr's GKS.)
I went to college at Syracuse University. In November of my freshman year, it snowed 18 days in a row thanks to the vaunted lake effect. Wasn’t like we got huge accumulations – only an inch here, a dusting there. Juuuust enough to be thoroughly depressing.

This year, Syracuse’s unusually heavy early snow is making national headlines:

The new snow pushed this December – which reached its midpoint at noon Wednesday – to second on the list of snowiest Decembers on record. National Weather Service instruments report 69.5 inches of snow have fallen at Syracuse Hancock International Airport since the month began through 6:54 this morning. Syracuse’s snowiest December was in 2000, when 70.3 inches fell.

But wait, there’s more. The 70.3 inches of snow that has fallen since July 1 is the most ever before the winter solstice, the official start of winter, said Theodore Champney, a meteorologist with the weather service’s Binghamton office. The old record, 63.5 inches, was set in 1995.

But wait, How am I supposed to know exactly how much 66.1 inches is? Put it in a context that I can understand!

If sources on the Web are accurate, pop sensation Justin Bieber, shown during his performance at this year’s State Fair, is 5 feet, 5 inches tall. If he stood in 66.1 inches of snow, the top of his famous hair would be covered by more than an inch of snow.

Not Justin Bieber’s hair! Curse you global warming! Now you’ve gone too far! I just love the analogy though. Doesn’t everyone know exactly how tall Justin Bieber is? (I couldn’t have picked Justin Bieber out of a police lineup until I saw him in the CNN telethon to benefit NWF’s Gulf Oil Spill Restoration Fund.)

Back to the snow. I know what you’re thinking. If global warming is accelerating, how can Syracuse’s snowfall be breaking records? First, WeatherBug explains why lake effect snow is so dependent on warm water:


And here’s Dr. Amanda Staudt, National Wildlife Federation climate scientist, explaining why global warming means more warm water – and more lake effect snow:


Learn more about the connection between global warming & oddball winter weather at