SKANEATELES — Former TV weatherman Dave Eichorn talked climate change Tuesday at the Skaneateles Lake Watershed Agricultural Program's annual meeting.

His message to the crowd? Climate change is happening, and the Northeast does not have the infrastructure to handle upcoming changes. 

"We need to start thinking in the back of our minds now about preparing for rapid, abrupt changes in weather, and what used to be normal just isn't anymore," Eichorn said.

Retired after nearly two decades on NewsChannel 9, the meteorologist is now a meteorology instructor at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. He was the final presenter at the program's meeting at the First Presbyterian Church in Skaneateles Tuesday. 

Addressing the farming community, he said the Northeast doesn't even seem prepared to handle the weather happening now. There were chuckles throughout the crowd. He referenced heavy rainstorms this past summer, and showed some slides of record-breaking snowfalls in New York state over the last decade.

"I think agriculturally," he said," I think we're going to be in a situation where we're going to have to recognize that what we're going through right now is not just a one- or two-year thing. We need to start making adjustments both in our structure, our hardware, our spreading of manure, everything that we're regulated to do, everything that we want to do."

The reason for the changing weather patterns, Eichorn explained, is due to a warming Arctic. The temperature rise there is changing the speed and direction of jet streams. Considering North America is sandwiched by two oceans, and storm tracks tend to move up the eastern seaboard, Eichorn said the Northeast and the Ohio Valley are getting some of the more extreme weather events. 

But while they may appear extreme to residents, the events are what Eichorn calls, "somebody else's weather," getting pushed down into the Northeast region. 

While Eichorn acknowledged that the climate has always changed, he said the difference today is the increased rate due to greenhouse gases. The only trend people may rely on now, he said, is the weather's variability.

"It's for real," he said about climate change. "It's really happening. It's quantifiably and measurably happening."

After the presentation, Executive Director of the Onondaga County Soil and Water Conservation District Mark Burger said he experienced a lot of bad things this year at work. In his annual review slideshow, Burger highlighted adversities farmers have faced after the heavy summer storms and harmful algal blooms.

"Farmers, I've got to ask you to stick together and support one another," he said. "One of the things I noticed is our industry may have been a little bit slow supporting each other. So when you have a neighbor that's going through a big project and it gets controversial, be there to support them."

Staff writer Gwendolyn Craig can be reached at (315) 282-2237 or gwendolyn.craig@lee.net. Follow her on Twitter @gwendolynnn1.

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County Government Reporter