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Dave Eichorn: CNY weather is getting more erratic

Rickey DeKing drives a Cazenovia town snowplow along Ballina Road. With low snow accumulation, town of Cazenovia snowplows haven’t seen much action this winter, with 60 less trips than the highway superintendent expected. Syracuse has only gotten 37.2 inches of snow as of Feb. 23.

Rickey DeKing drives a Cazenovia town snowplow along Ballina Road. With low snow accumulation, town of Cazenovia snowplows haven’t seen much action this winter, with 60 less trips than the highway superintendent expected. Syracuse has only gotten 37.2 inches of snow as of Feb. 23. Andrew Casler

— Working as a snowplow driver in Cazenovia for 30 years, Rickey DeKing said he has never seen a winter like this one.

With unseasonably warm temperatures, Syracuse has only had 37.2 inches of snow, as of Feb. 23.

“This time last year we had five feet on the ground, or better. It has been a strange year,” DeKing said.

Dave Eichorn, local meteorologist with 30 years of experience, has also observed the dramatic differences in area snowfall.

Eichorn recently plotted Syracuse snowfall totals from 1951 to 2011 and found an interesting trend. Beginning in the late 1980s the Syracuse area has seen an increasing variation in snowfall totals as time progresses.

According to Eichorn, these findings are statistically backed and show that the gap is widening between snowfall totals.

“Year-to-year variation is increasing, in other words, the maximum [amounts of snowfall] are increasing as well as the seasonal minimum [amounts of snowfall], and that is going on at an increasing rate,” he said.

Eichorn’s findings don’t include this year’s data because the winter is in progress, but he suspects this year could fall neatly into the trend.

“Unless we have a big snowstorm, which could still happen… we’re going to wind up with another huge negative snowfall anomaly, and that just plays right into this trend.”

Increasingly variable weather is indicative of climate change theory, which predicts that greenhouse gases contribute to ice cap melting and result in more common extreme weather events.

In Nov. 2011, UN scientists, who constitute the leading international body for the scientific assessment of climate change, reported that it is virtually certain climate change will cause an increased amount of severe weather.

However, Eichorn said his findings only show that more variation is occurring: “We stopped right there. Why we’re seeing more variation is probably a very confounding integration of variables.”

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