Ithaca Blog

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Real Reason(s) for Our Warm Winters

Winter finally touched Ithaca today. We say touched, not hit, because we haven't really been hit. Not like the Mid-West, and the citrus growers - and, closer to home, Rochester, where almost 150,000 people have lost power.

The difference between our microclimate and Rochester's is lake effect. Cold dry air moving from the north and west passes over warmer air over Lake Erie, picks up water vapor, and dumps it on land after it freezes. Syracuse gets the same effect from Onondaga Lake. Ithaca doesn't, from Cayuga Lake, as our lake is much smaller, discouraging the phenomenon. Cayuga's smaller size also makes it freeze over faster.

Among my friends, there is a theory that the mild winters in Ithaca over the past decade have to do with our friend E., who moved here from NYC in the 1990's. E. is of Puerto Rican descent and was terrified at the prospect of northern tundra winters here in Ithaca.

So he bought every piece of equipment you might think of to ward off winter suffering and to make the best of the season: ice skates, skis, Sterno, an ergonomic shovel, a snowblower, a Coleman stove, thermal suits, flannel sheets, an arctic sleeping bag, battery-powered flashlights, clocks, and radio, wind pants, snowshoes, a toboggan, a tuque, everything but a St. Bernard.

As a result, it has barely snowed since. We reckon we have E. to thank. We don't use his full name, as Greek Peak has him to blame.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

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