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Climatological Narrative For Syracuse, New York
Syracuse is located approximately at the geographical center of the state. Gently rolling terrain
stretches northward for about 30 miles to the eastern end of Lake Ontario. Oneida Lake is about
8 miles northeast of Syracuse. Approximately 5 miles south of the city hills rise to 1,500 feet.
Immediately to the west terrain is gently rolling with elevations 500 to 800 feet above sea level.
Syracuse International Airport (Hancock Field), where the climatological information for this
summary was gathered, is located approximately 7 miles northwest of downtown Syracuse.
The climate of Syracuse is primarily continental in character and is comparatively humid.
Nearly all cyclonic systems moving from the interior of the country through the St. Lawrence
Valley will affect the Syracuse area. Seasonal and diurnal changes are marked and produce an
In the summer and in portions of the transitional seasons temperatures usually rise rapidly during
the daytime to moderate levels and as a rule fall rapidly after sunset so the nights are relatively
cool and comfortable for sleeping. There are only a few days in a year when atmospheric
humidity causes great personal discomfort.
Winters are usually cold and can be severe in part. Daytime temperatures average about 30
degrees with night time lows about 18 degrees above zero. The lowest temperature ever
recorded was minus 26 degrees. Autumn, winter, and spring seasons display marked variability
with a spectacular foliage color display usually experienced each autumn.
Precipitation in the Syracuse area is derived principally from cyclonic storms which pass from
the interior of the country through the St. Lawrence Valley. Lake Ontario also provides a source
of significant winter precipitation in the form of Lake Effect Snow. The lake is quite deep and
never freezes so cold air flowing over the lake is quickly saturated and produces the snow squalls
which are a well-known feature of winter weather in the Syracuse area.
The area enjoys sufficient precipitation in most years to meet the needs of agriculture and water
supplies. The precipitation is uncommonly well distributed, averaging about 3 inches per month
throughout the year. Snowfall is moderately heavy with an annual average just over 100 inches.
There are about 30 days per year with thunderstorms, mostly during the warmer months.
Wind velocities are moderate, but during the winter months there are numerous days with
sufficient winds to cause blowing and drifting snow.
During December, January, and February there is considerable cloudiness. Syracuse receives
about 1/3 of possible sunshine during winter months. Comparatively, the summers in Syracuse
are very pleasant and approximately 2/3 of possible sunshine is received during these warm
The growing season in the immediate vicinity of Syracuse is about 171 days. The average date
of the last 32 degree temperature in the spring is April 28th. The average date of the first 32
degree temperature in the autumn is October 16th.