Niagara Gazette

January 9, 2013

GLYNN: Buffalo always gets bum rap for its weather

By DON GLYNN
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — It's not the “Miami of the North” as the Chamber of Commerce might boast. “The Snow Capital” of the Empire State also is inaccurate, despite what the ski resort operators claim.

We're talking Buffalo here where, incidentally, the summers have not been the hottest in the U.S., as the National Weather Service confirmed Wednesday.

Let's look at the record. The weather service has reported that 2012 was the hottest year ever in the contiguous United States. Last year's 55.3-degree average topped by one degree the previous record set in 1998. 

According to the New York Times, 34,008 daily high records were set at weather stations across the country, compared with only 6,664 record lows. Those readings were tabulated by Weather Channel meterologist Guy Walton. The Times' article also stated that 2012 could be a foretaste of things to come, as the continuing warming pattern makes heat extremes even more likely.

So where were those hot spots in 2012, the infamous list that didn't include the Queen City for a change?

The cities that set temperature records included Lamar, Colo., which hit 112 degrees on June 27; Nashville, Tenn., Athens, Ga.; and Cairo, Ill., 109 degrees on June 29;  and Greenville, S.C., 107 degrees on June 27. Although Western New York as well as other upstate communities experienced some unusually warm weather during the summer, Buffalo's high was 99 degrees, according to Jim Mitchell, meteorolgist based at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport, Cheektowaga. 

On a number of other days in July and August, Mitchell noted, the city's temperatures ranged from the low- to the mid-90s. He cited the frequent "good breeze" off Lake Erie that tends to cool off the air along the Niagara Frontier.

Mitchell said that an area weather pattern generally forming from breezes off Lakes Erie and Ontario often converge to bring lower temperatures to the Buffalo-Niagara Region that other places might experience.

In addition to its high-tech methods for tracking the conditions, the weather service agency also depends on volunteer observers who regularly report temperature readings, the amount of precipitation over a specified period and other information from stations at their own residences.

One of those volunteers, Gene Pacia of Porter, a retired school teacher, has maintained meticulous records for years at his small weather station off Creek Road. Even before the weather service confirmed the "hottest year ever" (2012), Pacia had mentioned several times the possibility that a record would be set.

By the way, the meterologist singled out Youngstown as having some of the most favorable weather, especially in the summer when other places are coping with severe heat. Again, it's the proximity to the lake and the lower elevation. There's almost a difference of 400 feet between the area above the escarpment and the village where the Niagara River flows into the lake. "There's a definite down-sloping effect as you head north," the meterologist added.

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SIGNS OF THE TIME: At a local Tim Horton's (withholding the address to avoid embarrassment): "Sorry, We're Not Excepting Credit Cards at This Time."

 • In a cafeteria: "Shoes are required to eat in here. Socks can eat any place they want."