Above average snowfall is possible
TRI-COUNTY AREA--Despite the likelihood the Finger Lakes region will experience an average winter this year, experts say the possibility of some extra snow and cold exists. Farmers, school districts and folks who just need to get to work in the morning can only hope it stays closer to the average.
"It looks like winter is more likely going to start out a little bit milder for November and December, but then indications are that January, February and March are going to be colder, even possibly more so than average," said Michael Murphy, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Binghamton.
He added that based on the data he was looking at, February had the chance to be colder than normal and that despite the early winter months being warmer, there still may be the same amount of precipitation.
Murphy said that his confidence for an average winter is based, in part, on the fact that over in the Pacific Ocean water temperatures have remained stable.
"It looks like neutral conditions (in the Pacific), so that means we don't have a strong el Niño la Niño and instead it's neutral, right in the middle. We expect (those conditions) to continue through the winter months," Murphy said.
For farmers and vintners like Peter Martini, vineyard manager of Anthony Road Wine Company in Penn Yan, that is good news.
"I am always cautiously optimistic that it will be fairly mild. You never know, we had frost tonight and it's not even mid-October. That does make me nervous, but last year was really cold as well early on but we never got awfully cold throughout the winter," Martini said.
The issue is that at negative three degrees or thereabouts the buds on the vines start to die.
"It cuts into business the following year potentially, but we have machines that move the air to mitigate the cold problems," Martini said.
Also hoping for a mild winter is Terry Wilcox, superintendent of public works for Watkins Glen.
"We bought the normal amount of salt and sand for this winter," Wilcox said, which he added is an amount based upon the amount used the last few winters.
If the winter is worse than normal Wilcox said he would just buy more supplies as they are needed.
"Why buy more than you need? If you need it, buy as you go, you don't want to waste money either," Wilcox said.
One thing Murphy said he couldn't predict long term is whether any polar vortexes will reach the region.
"The polar vortex develops every year and sometimes dips down to the Hudson Bay. Occasionally pieces break off and head to Northeast, but they are harder to predict, so I cant be sure of that for this winter," Murphy said.
He added that it happened last year, and it is certainly possible to happen again this year.
In terms of snow Marshall said Schuyler averages about 55 inches per winter and it's possible the area sees 65 inches this one. The same dynamic plays out for Yates, with an average snowfall of 60 inches with a possibility of up to 70 inches.
For up-to-date information please visit https://www.weather.gov/bgm/