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Justin J. Hartnett, Jennifer M. Collins, Martin A. Baxter, and Don P. Chambers

Abstract

Central New York State, located at the intersection of the northeastern United States and the Great Lakes basin, is impacted by snowfall produced by lake-effect and non-lake-effect snowstorms. The purpose of this study is to determine the spatiotemporal patterns of snowfall in central New York and their possible underlying causes. Ninety-three Cooperative Observer Program stations are used in this study. Spatiotemporal patterns are analyzed using simple linear regressions, Pearson correlations, principal component analysis to identify regional clustering, and spatial snowfall distribution maps in the ArcGIS software. There are three key findings. First, when the long-term snowfall trend (1931/32–2011/12) is divided into two halves, a strong increase is present during the first half (1931/32–1971/72), followed by a lesser decrease in the second half (1971/72–2011/12). This result suggests that snowfall trends behave nonlinearly over the period of record. Second, central New York spatial snowfall patterns are similar to those for the whole Great Lakes basin. For example, for five distinct regions identified within central New York, regions closer to and leeward of Lake Ontario experience higher snowfall trends than regions farther away and not leeward of the lake. Third, as compared with precipitation totals (0.02), average air temperatures had the largest significant (ρ < 0.05) correlation (−0.56) with seasonal snowfall totals in central New York. Findings from this study are valuable because they provide a basis for understanding snowfall patterns in a region that is affected by both non-lake-effect and lake-effect snowstorms.

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