All last week, the Oswego State meteorology department and WTOP-10 were tracking a low-pressure system that had the potential to produce over a foot of snow in Oswego last Monday. The storm deceived many of the meteorology students because the Liquid Water Content Ratio, or the ratio of air to water that a snowflake contains, was over reported.
“Lake-effect snow tends to have a LWC ratio of 15:1 to 20:1,” said meteorology professor Robert Ballentine. “This kind of snow was somewhat heavier, and usually has a ratio of 10:1 to 12:1.”
Even though the storm was deceiving, the amount of snow and the high wind speeds during the storm created visibilities that were less than a half mile, according to the National Weather Service. Oswego State administrators decided to cancel classes on Monday; however only after 4:30 p.m. Some students were frustrated because the cancellation did not take effect until much of the snow and wind subsided. Oswego State has canceled classes much more frequently in the last two years than in recent memory. Last spring, Oswego state canceled classes four times, but once again, only after 4:30 p.m. There was one exception where classes were canceled after 11:30 a.m. due to blizzard-like conditions.
“I think it was an unfortunate decision [to wait until late afternoon to close], and I think it’s been a trend that’s been happening lately,” said WTOP-TV Chief Meteorologist Molly Mattot. “The conditions on the campus, especially in the late morning, were so bad. When I tried to walk to classes, I couldn’t even see the walkway.”
Many of the meteorology students believe the people who make these decisions should consult the forecasting organization the meteorology department has on campus, which is known as the Lake Effect Systems Prediction and Research Center (LESPaRC). Consulting with LESPaRC is something the college did once. Unfortunately, administrative contact for the purpose of weather-related decisions has ceased within the last few years.
Mattot believes this decision may have something to do with the fact that most of the forecasters are students.
“I trust all of my peers, but you don’t want someone to say ‘I really don’t want to go to my 1:50 p.m. class, so I’m going to lie and say that there’ll be a foot of snow within an hour, which is an understandable caution,” Mattot said.
However, she added that every person who works for LESPaRC is a trained professional, and it would be a wise decision for the college to consult with LESPaRC when necessary.
Ballentine said it will be very unlikely that consultation will happen, and he recommends that students who are commuting within Oswego, should take public transportation to avoid dealing with the problems the roadways can cause during these snowstorms.
“One thing that I used to do before I learned to take the bus was to come in the night before, or even the day before,” Ballentine said. “Now, that’s not always possible. If you have a friend in the dorms, or even stay in a motel, I would look into those options if you absolutely have to get to class.”
It is possible this situation could reoccur this semester as February and March are still prone to lake-effect snow and coastal systems.