Snowfall Derby 2011 – Prince of Darkness

by Mark on December 30, 2010

Rochester, New York ranks fourth in America for profanity. Some argue we swear because of the annual average cumulative snowfall exceeds 100 inches. Others, including myself, believe our profanity is amplified by the lack of sunlight.

The National Weather Service is kind enough to project 49% of our days include sunshine. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), is harsher by suggesting we enjoy only 61 days of partly sunny or better days.

The challenge is living on the shores of Lake Ontario, and less than 75 miles from Lake Erie. The Great Lakes put a lot of moisture in the air that rains or piles down on us most of the time.

Many scientists believe natural daylight creates a positive impact on our emotions and health. One is Jeanette Joy Fisher, who suggests the following:


1. Poor lighting causes eye fatigue and headaches.
2. Absence of natural daylight triggers depression and poor immune defenses.
3. Bright light stimulates us, while low levels of illumination quiet our senses.
4. Dim lighting or harsh contrasts produce eyestrain.
5. Too much artificial light and overly-bright rooms hurt our eyes and make us feel jittery.
6. Insufficient lighting is linked to emotional stress and to physical ailments.
7. An excess of unnatural light does not replace the calming effects of natural daylight.
8. Uncovered light bulbs cause irritation and disturb tranquility. (We should seek out those uncovered light bulbs.)

There is humor in our shade. Many believe George Eastman founded Kodak, here, because it is the world’s largest darkroom. Of course that might have brought a smile when the majority of people knew what a darkroom was.

Our grey weather does enable us to compete in the Snowfall Derby. Syracuse remains the leader with 73.6.” Rochester is second with 46.9.” Buffalo comes in third at 33.6.” Last year’s upstart, Philadelphia received a foot in a day and whined all over the news. Even their governor called them ‘wusses.’

I am okay with our darkness. Sunglasses are expensive. We worry less about skin cancer. A blazing fireplace on a cold grey day offers coziness and romance – at least in our imagination.

Most importantly, we worship those sixty-one annual days of sunshine. Upstate New York has one of the highest private swimming pools per capita ratios in the country. Local Oak Hill Country Club is a world renowned golf course. Rochester’s Bausch & Lomb is famous for their sunglasses.

Like moles, burrowing from the earth, we raise our arms to those sunshine skies and celebrate. Then we burrow back into the ground and curse those five or so dark days until it returns.

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