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Nor’easter covering Onondaga County in snow after hitting eastern NY

A construction vehicle with a large plow in the front shoveling snow.
Tarryn Mento
A large construction vehicle plows heavy snow on Syracuse University's campus, Mar. 14, 2023.

Snow accumulation is intensifying for the Onondaga County region.

A winter storm sweeping through the area triggered a state of emergency Monday night. It dropped more than a foot of snow in some parts of eastern New York. But Onondaga County residents saw up to only about three and a half inches of snow by Tuesday morning.

National Weather Service’s David Nicosia said that will likely change Tuesday evening as some areas could see more than a foot overnight.

“Into the evening the winds are gonna turn to Northwest and then good ol' Lake Ontario is going to add extra moisture into this," Nicosia said. "So we will see additional snow in the Syracuse area as well as and especially the higher elevation south of Syracuse—Tully and those areas.”

Still Nicosia said this season’s snowfall tally is so far on track to be one of the lowest since the early 1940s. But overall, he said the area’s average snowfall has increased by about a foot over the last several decades, which could be caused by slightly warmer water temperatures in Lake Ontario.

“Winters have gotten milder since the ‘50s and
60s by a few degrees," Nicosia explained. "So if you think about that, that means that the Lake Ontario temperatures are warmer…so that means you get more lake-effect snow.”

Warmer temps may also mean flakes don’t stick around, so it can seem like less snow. Nicosia said there are certainly times that’s true, but he said average temperatures were colder back in the 50s, 60s and 70s. However, he said they’re not seeing a similar uptick in summer temperatures.

“The fact that winters have gotten somewhat warmer more than summers does kind of have that footprint of some climate change related to greenhouse gases," Nicosia said.

He said how that manifests from storm to storm is difficult to determine, but research is ongoing.

Tarryn Mento is an award-winning digital, audio and video journalist with experience reporting from Arizona, Southern California, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic. Tarryn produces in-depth and investigative content for WAER while overseeing the station's student reporter experience. She is also an adjunct professor at Syracuse University.