Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes ofwebsite accessibilityHow unusual is it for snow to fall in Syracuse during the month of May? | WSTM
Close Alert

How unusual is it for snow to fall in Syracuse during the month of May?

Latest Snow May DATE.jpg
Latest Snow May DATE.jpg
Facebook Share IconTwitter Share IconEmail Share Icon
Comment bubble

After receiving the 2nd warmest February on record, the 7th warmest April on record, 3 days of 80 degrees or higher already for the year, and a high of 77 degrees May 1st, the last thing you probably want to hear is that snow is in the forecast. However, a fresh blast of unseasonably cold air is looking very likely to move in during the day Sunday and last through Tuesday morning.

As of Wednesday morning, my forecast calls for our first opportunity for snowflakes to fly in the air developing either some time during the day Sunday and likely for Sunday night through Monday. It is still a little too early to be specific regarding accumulating snow for our area. However, the highest risk for the highest accumulations appears to be the higher elevations of central, southern and northern New York. At this point, I cannot rule out some accumulating snow even across the city of Syracuse and lower elevations, especially on lawns, trees and cars.

So how unusual is it for snow to fall in Syracuse during the month of May?

Let me show you some statistics. First let’s discuss accumulating snow for Syracuse (which means getting 0.1”of snow or more). Remember that higher elevations typically receive accumulating snow later than Syracuse and lower elevations due to colder temperatures.

--In 115 years of record keeping in Syracuse, there have been 13 years where Syracuse has received accumulating snow (0.1” or more). So, statistically, since 1902, there have been 11% of months of May with accumulating snow. Essentially, 1 out of every 10 months of May receives accumulating snow. This may seem high, but this is actually statistically accurate.

--There is also something called “a trace of snow”. This means snow is seen falling, but it does not accumulate either due to melting or not enough snow actually falls and sticks. The problem with using “a trace of snow” is that a trace of snow could also have been from “graupel” (small hail during heavy convective rain showers), from sleet, or from thunderstorm hail. I cannot distinguish that from the statistics.

--Therefore, the following numbers and percentages are probably not completely accurate in judging how often flakes fly in May (even without sticking). However, in interest of showing all of the statistics, in 115 years of record keeping in Syracuse, there have been 44 years where Syracuse has received at least a “trace of snow or more” which could have been from snow or hail from thunderstorms. So, statistically, since 1902, there have been 38% of months of May with accumulating snow or from thunderstorm hail.

--Averaging all 115 years of record keeping, Syracuse averages 0.1" of snow in May. However, the majority of the months of May (62%) have recorded 0.0" of snow.

How about heaviest snowfall?

Here is the top 5 latest dates in recorded history that Syracuse has seen accumulating snow (0.1+) below:
(1) May 17 (1973) 1.2”
(2) May 12 (1996)2.1”
(3) May 11 (1907) 4.4”
(4) May 10 (1945)1.0”
(5) May 9 (2010)0.1”

Note that we have an opportunity in my forecast of receiving accumulating snow especially Sunday night through Monday May 7th through May 8th. Even if we did receive accumulating snow through Monday, May 8th, this would NOT be in the top 5 for latest dates receiving accumulating snow.

Here is the top 5 highest amount of accumulating snow that has occurred in Syracuse during 1 calendar day below:
(1) 4.4” (May 11, 1907)
(2) 2.1” (May 12, 1996)
(3) 1.5” (May 8, 1947)
(4) 1.2” (May 17, 1973)
(5) 1.0” (May 9 ,1977)

Here is the top 5 heaviest total May monthly snowfall in Syracuse below:
(1) 5.0" (1907)
(2) 2.1" (1996)
(3) 1.7" (1947)
(4) 1.4" (1908)
(5) 1.2" (1973)

Note that it remains to be seen whether or not Syracuse will receive accumulating snow or not. However, as you can see with the statistics above, to get into the top 5 snowiest days in May, Syracuse would need to receive at least 1.0” of snow. We will keep you posted about the threat for accumulating snow not only for Syracuse and all lower elevations but also for higher elevations across our entire area.

Besides accumulating snowfall, Syracuse is also at risk for approaching record cold temperatures.

There are 4 temperatures at risk for records:
--Record coldest high for Sunday May 7th: (44/1989)
--Record coldest low temperature for Monday May 8th: (28/1956)
--Record coldest high for Monday May 8th: (43/1947)
--Record coldest low temperature for Tuesday May 9th: (30/1966)

You may notice in my forecast, temperatures are forecasted to be close to these numbers. We will keep you posted about these possible records as we get closer to these dates.

To find out exactly what’s next, watch NBC-3 and CBS-5 right now. Plus follow us on Facebook and Twitter for even more constant updates.

If you want to send us a picture or video, please go to our mobile app and click on “See It, Send It”. It is a quick and easy way of sharing your videos and pictures! You can also upload your photos by clicking here.

Comment bubble

IMPORTANT NOTE about Syracuse records:
--Records between 1950 and now are kept at Syracuse Hancock International Airport (which is technically North Syracuse).
--Records between 1902 and 1949 were kept in downtown Syracuse mostly at firehouses.
--While the distance between the 2 places is less than 10 miles, there is some difference between these 2 locations on average for both temperatures and snowfall.
--Typically, Hancock Airport will receive more snowfall on average than downtown Syracuse. This is due to being closer to stronger Lake Ontario lake effect snow bands before they weaken as they move southward.
--Typically, downtown Syracuse will be milder than North Syracuse due to the "urban heat island" affect from downtown buildings versus an open field of an airport runway.

Loading ...