From a person who majors in meteorology and who has been here for the last two winters, you can trust me when I say that it’s highly recommended that any Oswego State student should pay attention to the weather forecasts every single day, because the weather here can become very hectic with only a day’s notice. The reason for this is very simple. The campus is to the southeast of Lake Ontario.
This geography problem can cause a winter weather phenomenon that is known as “lake-effect snowstorms.” This is when a large mass of cold air moves over a large, warm lake. This will cause the water in the lake to evaporate and form clouds over the lakes. There are several ways that these clouds can move. The clouds will affect Oswego if there is a west wind over the lake, which will push the clouds east.
Now, the reason this is a problem is because Lake Ontario’s west-to-east axis is more than four times longer than its north-to-south axis and it just so happens that Oswego is on the short axis, so when we do get lake-effect weather, we get most of the snow concentrated in one area, causing very intense snowstorms. Every single year, Oswego State gets an average 150 inches of snow between the months of November and April, compared to the national average of 25 inches of snow.
However, when it’s not the winter, don’t expect it to be any nicer. During the spring, hundreds of students make the mistake of wearing summer clothing when they are not aware of another phenomena that the lake can cause; more commonly known as the sea breeze. This is when the cold air over a lake, gets carried by wind to the coast, bringing the wind chill to approximately 10 to 20 degrees colder than the actual temperature. The fall has a version of this phenomenom which is called “land breeze.” This is where wind that flows in the vertical direction brings cold air from about a mile high in the atmosphere down to the ground, and wind takes that cold air and pushes it into the lake, which will also cause wind chills that aren’t as cold as sea breezes, but still cold.
These phenomena explain focusing on the weather forecasts given by the television stations that Oswego State’s cable system provides isn’t an accurate way of determining the weather, because those stations are Syracuse based. That’s why I highly recommended watching WTOP’s newscast. Even though the forecasts are student created, the meteorologists who work for WTOP specifically forecast weather for Oswego and are always on top of the weather minute by minute. This will allow a student to receive the best idea on what to expect for an area where the weather can become very chaotic, very easily.