Really Cool Videos Over Buffalo

November 21, 2014

This story obviously still developing, will update as I find out more..

Weather Channel’s Ari Sarsalari discusses video of the recent snow event near Buffalo NY.  The area has been smacked by 4 to 5 feet (1.2 to 1.5 meters) of heavy snow, with more on the way before it breaks.

Sarsalari pronounces the clip, “ of the coolest videos I’ve ever seen..”.
With 2014 looking to break the warmest-in-the-record record,  and an El Nino setting up in the Pacific, we may be seeing some very, very cool video in the coming years.

Minnesota Public Radio:

Lake-effect snow and the climate change connection

Yes, it sounds counter-intuitive. How can you have more snow, earlier in the season with a warming climate?

An oversimplified explanation goes like this.

  • Warmer climate = warmer water in Lake Erie
  • Arctic warming = a wavier jet stream pushing unseasonably cold arctic air mass into the eastern U.S.
  • Unusually cold air masses and unusually warm lake water temps = extreme temperature contrast of 50 degrees between lake surface and air mass
  • Extreme temperature contrast = more intense lake effect snowfall rates of 3 to 5 inches per hour with 60-plus inch snowfall totals

Now a more thorough explanation with supporting data.

First the warm water. An unusually warm bubble of water for November at the eastern end of Lake Erie helped fuel this extreme lake-effect event.


Average Lake Erie water temp for November 19th is 47 degrees. You can see the bubble of 50 to 54 degree water just west (upstream) of Buffalo in the image above

Longer-term trends show Lake Erie has become measurably warmer. The reduction in winter ice cover actually produces an increase in lake-effect snow as more moisture is available for incoming arctic air to tap and wring out onshore in intense lake-effect driven snow plumes.

Lake-effect snowfall in the Great Lakes is increasing, even as non lake-effect snowfall is steady to falling in a warming climate.

Long-term trends show an increase in winter totals from these extreme precipitation events.

Slate’s Eric Holtahus connects the dots on how the State of New York has recognized that increased lake-effect snowfall is part of a warming climate for now.

Earlier this year, New York state updated its assessment of statewide climate change impacts, essentially giving a forecast of the future of lake-effect snowfall in the state:

Annual ice cover has decreased 71 percent on the Great Lakes since 1973; models suggest this decrease will lead to increased lake-effect snow in the next couple of decades through greater moisture availability (Burnett et al. 2003). By mid-century, lake-effect snow will generally decrease as temperatures below freezing become less frequent (Kunkel et al. 2002).

The high ice extent of the 2013-2014 winter highlights the fact that natural variability is expected to continue, even as long-term trends gradually shift the statistics in favor of low-ice winters.

Bottom line? There is increasing evidence to show that Buffalo’s lake-effect mega storm is another example of an extreme weather event with a climate change connection.

NBC News:

Temperatures on the rest of the planet have been warm enough that both NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have indicated that 2014 could go down as the warmest year since record keeping began in 1880.

“Globally it is very likely that 2014 will be the warmest on record,” Tom Peterson, the principal scientist at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, tells Global maps show “some very warm areas, a lot of moderately warm areas and only a few areas that were cold,” he adds.

So if most of the globe is warming, what gives with the recent cold blasts in areas east of the Rockies?

Last winter’s Arctic blast led scientists to theorize that warmer Pacific waters or melting summer Arctic sea ice or just random weather could be factors.

The cold front this month, however, appears to have a different birth.

The events “started with exceptionally warm sea temperatures in the Pacific that led to the super Typhoon Nuri,” says Kevin Trenberth, an atmospheric scientist at NCAR. On Nov. 8, the typhoon became “incredibly intense … advanced to the north and brought very warm air up into Alaska and into the Arctic.”

“The cold air had to go somewhere else and it did: down across the U.S.,” says Trenberth. “By Nov. 12 the very cold air over North America was matched by very warm air over Alaska and the Arctic.”

2 Responses to “Really Cool Videos Over Buffalo”

  1. […] In the American midwest, where I live, everyone knows we are seeing more intense rain events. Here’s how it plays out in much dryer and more sensitive areas. As I’ve mentioned before, one positive effect of global warming will be the large increase in really cool viral videos. […]

  2. […] That looks completely normal. As I’ve said before, one of the positives from climate change will be an increasing number of remarkable youtube videos. […]

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