Buffalo And The World’s Weirdest Weather

The photo at the top of this entry is Buffalo, Wednesday afternoon. The Sun is shining brightly.

Wondering where the snow is?


The photo at the top of this entry is Buffalo, Wednesday Tuesday afternoon. It’s my old neighborhood on Elmwood Avenue. The Sun is shining brightly.

Wondering where the snow is?

robhimself793: I’m about a mile from the snow band, I have very little snow, maybe 6″. Just a mile south and people have 3 feet.

You’re seeing one of the more interesting aspects of Lake Effect snow. It is VERY localized. There’s heavy snow just a few miles from where this image was captured.

Lake Effect snow is the product of convection. Heat and moisture are transferred upward into the clouds from the relatively warm lake. You can see that in this time lapse of Lake Erie, one of the coolest pieces of weather video I’ve ever seen.

Heavy Lake Effect snow needs cold wind roughly parallel to the lake to get going. The resulting storm forms slender ‘streamers’ which reach out from the lake. They are often just a few miles wide, with flurries at the edges and white out conditions in the middle!

Near the Great Lakes it’s possible to drive from no snow to 4″/hour conditions in just two or three miles! These bands can stay stationary for hours, or even days!

Buffalo gets a lot of snow each winter, over 90 inches! Because of Lake Effect there are heavier snowbelts south of the city. People in Buffalo scratch their heads why anyone would want to live there, as we scratch our heads over Buffalo.


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The Snow I Won’t Miss

New Year’s Night. 8:47 PM PST.

COD Meteorology    Numerical Model Data

There’s a storm on the way to New England. There are one or two major storms there during any snow season. This will be one.

I’ve been working the numbers. It’s fun to forecast. I like maps, graphs and numbers. I can do it sitting in my chair here in Orange County.

I don’t miss the anxiety of forecasting. I know my fellow meteorologists sweat these out too. No one wants to be wrong.

At this hour radar from the Northeast is showing snow over Connecticut. Bradley’s been reporting light snow for over an hour. Most of the state is still quiet. The center of the upcoming storm is over Arkansas!

Here’s the setup: The low moves from Arkansas to the Northeast. A Canadian high will block the low’s northerly progress, but also provide an ample supply of cold air.

New England’s geography takes over.

As the low moves over the relatively mild (compared to land) ocean it will explode! A low’s strength is measure by its central pressure. The pressure will drop like a rock!

The prediction shows a rapid fall from ~1016mb to ~985mb. That will enhance both precipitation and wind! More of each.

Don’t be fooled. This isn’t a linear storm. There will be a long period of light snow, then the main course.

Thursday will be cloudy with snow showers and flurries. A few inches will accumulate during the day. If you have to drive you probably will, though you shouldn’t. The wind will being picking up.

After dark, windblown snow becoming heavy at times. Strong northeasterly winds. You’ll want to be safely home before this bad boy gets going.

Some areas might see a foot. 5-8″ will probably be the average.

The snow ends Friday morning. It will be replaced by bitterly cold air with many spots dipping below zero Saturday morning.

You don’t want to know what it will be like here in SoCal tomorrow.

We’ve Got The Lede: It’s Raining

IMG_0700 rain on the roof

The TV was on in the family room as the noon news began. The lead story&#185:


How much?

Will it be gone by Christmas?

To an outsider this might seem a little overboard… maybe to insiders too. My suspicion is it’s a much more valid lead than first meets the eye.

Let me dismiss the hyperbole first. It’s the 19th. This storm will be a faint memory by Christmas. Has California ever even seen a storm lasting six days over one spot?

Rain does have an impact here. Because it rains so infrequently, roads often have a light surface coating of oil and grease. Roads get slippery in a hurry. Freeway traffic which normally buzzes by in the 70s has to slow down.

During our last ‘storm’ the embankment adjacent to a freeway in the San Fernando Valley gave way, flooding the road and blocking traffic for most of the day.

When it comes to rain, Southlanders (is that an actual word?) are fragile flowers. Rain storms do impact them.

Anywhere else this rain wouldn’t be a concern. But this isn’t anywhere else. In SoCal we’re just not used to weather!

&#185 – Yeah, I know. This entry’s title says “lede”, but this sentence says “lead.” There’s no explanation. It just is!

Trying To Keep A Low Profile In This Weather


It came via Twitter early today.

@JRRN27 @geofffox Hey Geoff, bet you don’t miss this snow!!!! –

It’s true. I don’t.

And there lies the rub.

Will I piss off old friends if I talk about the weather too much?

Roll down the window put down the top
Crank up the Beach Boys baby
Don’t let the music stop
We’re gonna ride it till we just can’t ride it no more

>From the South Bay to the Valley
>From the West Side to the East Side
Everybody’s very happy
‘Cause the sun is shining all the time
Looks like another perfect day
– “I Love LA” Randy Newman

We were in the eighties today. Even now, at 7:30 pm it’s 64&#176. Three of the next seven days are forecast over 70&#176. Six of seven will beat 60&#176.

Like most people who’ve moved, Helaine and I keep track of what’s going on elsewhere. The Internet makes that easy. I’ve been watching the cold and snow where my sister and folks live near Milwaukee and this weekend’s weather in Connecticut.

Snow is not a singular event. It takes different skills to navigate it at different stages.



Better forecasting has changed how people deal with snow. Years ago snow was often a surprise. The exact accumulation might be off, but a forecast of snow today is nearly always followed by actual snow!

If you’re scared of driving in snow, you no longer have to! You can plan ahead. That’s taken a lot of people off the road in storms.

More snow is likely early Tuesday in Connecticut. It will be light, but of a long duration. That means additional inches turning dirtying snow back-to-white!

SoCal residents have little tolerance for any deviation from sunny and 70&#176s. It’s funny to see people in winter coats when it’s in the fifties. Scarves too.

My daughter confessed she enjoyed the last rainy day. It was a change from the monotony of blue skies.

I will resist, but I can see how that happens. It’s only rained parts of five days since we arrived in late June.

Ask Me Anything–Most Memorable Storm

I spent hours on the air showing the radar, seeing the back end of the system and saying the storm would soon be out of the state. I did that through nine or ten additional inches of snow!

I’m currently answering all your questions. Read more about it here.

Eric asks, “Geoff, what storm in CT was the most memorable for you?”

Eric, you’d think it would be Hurricane Gloria. Maybe it should be. It helped establish a reputation for service in a tough situation. People saw me on-the-air for 24 hours straight.

Instead my most memorable was a blown forecast.

It happened well over twenty years ago. It was a snowstorm that wouldn’t end! I spent hours on the air showing the radar, seeing the back end of the system and saying the storm would soon be out of the state. I did that through nine or ten additional inches of snow!

As I would later understand the error in forecasting was mine. We had less guidance then, but I should have known. I’ve been through many similar storms since and understand the dynamics much better. In fact we had a similar storm this winter which was forecast well (though with some trepidation).

So, why is this one so memorable? It was the first storm where I was wrong and was punished by viewers. It took a few years before the ill will I acquired from that episode wore off. It was awful.

No one wants to get the grief I got over that one snowstorm. I certainly don’t.

What this storm did was help me understand how my work is being used. It was a lesson more forcefully learned in this storm than Gloria where I mostly got kudos.

It’s tough to explain because my attitude had never been cavalier. It just made me much more conscious of the utility of my work and the impact of my words. Twenty plus years later I think of that storm every winter and how to avoid a similar forecast disaster.

From time-to-time I’ll still blow a forecast. This past winter had a glaring example. It’s unavoidable when you’re predicting the future.

If you lived in my shoes you’d know how hard I work to avoid that. I’m not trying to set myself apart. I can’t believe anyone who does what I do feels any different.

There’s no upside to being wrong.