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International Journal of Climatology

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Snowfall in the six basins of the Catskill/Delaware Watershed in south‐central New York State historically contributes roughly 20–30% of the water resources derived from the watershed for use in the New York City water supply. The watershed regularly experiences snowfall from three distinctive weather patterns: coastal mid‐latitude cyclones, overrunning systems, and lake‐effect or Great Lakes enhanced storms. Using synoptic weather classification techniques, these distinct regional atmospheric patterns impacting the watershed are isolated and analysed in conjunction with daily snowfall observations from 1960 to 2009 to allow the influence of each synoptic weather pattern on snowfall to be evaluated independently.

Results indicate that snowfall‐producing events occur on average approximately 63 days/year, or once every 4 days during the October–May season, leading to an average of 213 cm/year of snowfall within the watershed. Snowfall from Great Lakes enhanced storms and overrunning systems contribute nearly equally to seasonal totals, representing 38 and 39%, respectively. Coastal mid‐latitude cyclones, while producing the highest amount of snowfall per event on average, contribute only 16% to the watershed average total snowfall. Predicted climate change is expected to impact snowfall differently depending on the specific atmospheric pattern producing the snow. As such, quantifying the contribution of snowfall to the watershed by synoptic pattern can inform future water management and reservoir operation practices for the New York City Water Supply Management System.


© 2019 The Authors. International Journal of Climatology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of the Royal Meteorological Society.

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
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Funded by the University of Nebraska at Omaha Open Access Fund