February 17, 2013

Syracuse winters? Bring 'em on!

Local columnist Sean Kirst had a conversation with long-time Syracuse booster Russ Andrews about Syracuse being the snowiest major city in New York, if not the country. Andrews suggests that it might not be good for us to focus on that, and also that perhaps if we moved the official snowfall measuring station to downtown, we might be able to drop the snow capital name and gain some economic boost.

The official weather reporting for our area is done at Hancock International Airport, in the snowfall-prone 'north of the Thruway' area a few miles north of downtown, where there is typically less snow. According to Andrews,
I think it’s wonderful to be first in anything, but I don’t think it’s good for our economy to be seen as being all that snowy. I work just north of the Thruway...and it’ll be a blizzard out there and when I get home, to downtown, we’ll be getting nothing.
I agree with Andrews on the differences between reporting stations. Similar to real estate, with weather it's location, location, location. I live in The Valley, a few minutes south of the city center, and more often than not that the weather we have here is different than the weather at any of the local TV stations, even as they are telling us about the differences between their on-set weather and that at the airport. There have been many times when we've left  the homes of friends and family in other sections of the city in a blinding snowstorm - or rainstorm, for that matter - and quickly entered clear skies and clean dry streets.  And there are of course times when we have the inclement weather at our house, but nothing's happening in Eastwood or Tipp Hill, and something totally different is happening in Liverpool or Manlius or at the airport.

Kirst's question is, should we embrace the airport weather, or should we pretend it's not representative? And should we aspire to be number two or three on the list of snowy cities?  Do we really want to lose the Golden Snowball to someone else, our fellow cities-in-snow Buffalo, Rochester, Albany or Binghamton? And could we stand losing to someone outside New York, like Erie PA?
S Drummond photo

Frankly, I'm on the 'embrace' side of things. I'm not a skier or a snowmobiler, but I do enjoy getting outside in all kinds of weather, including winter, for the fresh air, to take photos and to just enjoy the weather hand we're dealt. I also shovel a mean driveway and sidewalk, having lived in Central New York for most of my 54 years. 

I remember back in the day, I'm guessing it was the 80's or 90's, when we had the slogan  "Don't like the weather? Wait five minutes!"  There was another one, along the lines of  "In Syracuse, we have four seasons - sometimes all in the same day!"  Now, I can't recall if anyone officially used these or not, but at least in conversation, (with tongue firmly planted in cheek) we wore our weather on our sleeves and laughed at it.  

Here's my favorite comment (from user 'crysania')  in response to Kirst's post:
Does it really matter? 103 inches of snow is still a LOT of snow to most people. Saying "Oh no it's not that bad! We didn't get 149 inches of snow, we only got 103!" sounds ridiculous to people not from the area. So measuring it in a different place isn't going to make it any "better" in terms of snow.
She goes on to point out what those of us who live here already know, but seem to forget:
Perhaps what should be advertised along with it is that we have a lot of snowplows, a lot of salt, and for the most part we know how to tackle this much snow. Most of the time our snow falls in a few inches every day, which here is not a big deal. And often some falls and then melts away, then more falls, then melts away. It's not often we have 4 or 5 feet of snow on the ground. I guess if they're SO afraid of the snow chasing people away, they need to show how it's either not a big deal or how it can be good for business.

Here's Andrews again:
A lot of cities don't have four seasons.  Why should our worst season be most prominent? 
Our "worst" season?  C'mon -- winter is one of our four best seasons!  Our winters are only a part of what we need to be selling - yes, selling - to folks who might be interested in coming here to live, to attend college, to start a business, or just to visit

As I write this, there are ridiculously small snowflakes wandering around outside, acting like they can't decide whether to just stay afloat or come in for a landing. I'm hoping that they'll build up some momentum, and cover the ground with a fresh blanket of snow. Not a ton, mind you, but just enough to make it pretty again, until it's time (and warm enough) for us to get outside and start our spring cleaning.

Are you with me?

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