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Hot and cold

As a bicyclist, I pay a lot more attention to the weather than a lot of people because I have to know what I'll run into before I leave the house.

These past, warm beautiful spring days have been especially challenging, because of the ice coming down the Niagara River after the ice boom was removed.

How challenging? On Thursday afternoon, the temperature in most of Western New York was in the low 70s. The temperature at the Coast Guard base, right on the waterfront? A somewhat chilly 54 degrees.

National Weather Service meteorologist Steve McLaughlin said the wind also plays a big role in how much of that lake chilliness spreads over the area.

When there's little or no wind, temperatures along the river reflect the chill of the water, he said. When the prevailing west to southwest wind kicks in, the river and lake chill spread more inland.

But, hey, when it's sunny and the temperature on a ride can range from the 50s to 70s, you just dress for it.

What I can't figure out though, is how do those ice chunks floating to Niagara Falls get so dirty?

If you want to see how little ice remains, right in our corner of the lake, check out the satellite photos on the National Weather Service's internet site.  

---  Michael Beebe

Prep work

It was sunny and in the high 40s at RCR Yachts/Skyway Marina today. Like a handful of others, David Prezyna was taking advantage of the weather to get his 27-foot sloop, Leprechaun, ready for the boating season.

Anyone who has owned a boat knows spring is the time when it must be brought back to ship-shape after the winter hiatus. In Prezyna's case, he was oiling the floors and cleaning out the inside. Next week, he plans to paint the bottom.

"I hope to be in the water May 4," said the retired school administrator from West Seneca.

Asked if he had seen the chunks of ice still floating out at the Outer Harbor, he grinned and said, "I don't want to look at that."

--- John F. Bonfatti

What a difference a weekend makes

   Last weekend was as glorious as it gets around here in the spring.
   

   This weekend will be pretty much the opposite.

   In fact, the National Weather Service forecast says that with temperatures Sunday some 10 to 12 degrees below normal, there's a chance that a few snowflakes will fill the air. With high pressure building in during the evening, temperatures during the overnight Sunday-Monday should dip below freezing.

   High pressure also means sunshine during the day Monday, although temperatures will remain below normal. That high pressure is expected to dominate the weather early next week, with daytime highs reaching into the 50s and even possibly the 60s by midweek.

--- John F. Bonfatti

Landmark day

    Sunday was a landmark day for a friend of mine, who has made maple syrup for the past 20 years or so at his sugar bush in a secluded and picturesque valley in Colden.

    With Sunday's two gallons, he surpassed his previous single-season production and set a new season best of 31.5 gallons. When you figure that you have to boil 40 to 41 gallons of sap to get one gallon of syrup, you get an idea of just how much firewood he's tossed into the evaporator this spring.

    Sap from maple trees begins to run at a specific time in the spring -- when the daytime temperatures climb above freezing and the nighttime temperatures dip below freezing. His first boil this year was Feb. 19, and he expects he might be able to squeeze out another gallon or so before the run ends.

   -- John F. Bonfatti

Green Ice

   With all that travel by air, bus and car, the average NHL player generates 10 tons of carbon dioxide per season, according to the David Suzuki Foundation, which was formed to combat global warming.

   That's why a group of National Hockey League players put together the Carbon Neutral Challenge with the help of the NHL Players Association and the foundation.

   "We were hoping that five or six guys per team would be great," Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference said Sunday in a column by the Boston Globe's Fluto Shinzawa. "We've blown that out of the water."

   The most recent count shows 523 NHL players signed up for the program, which involves each player paying $290 ($29 a ton) into a company that invests in green products. The Sabres are well-represented, with 18 players.

   "Some of the criticisms of going carbon neutral is that you're paying for your sins and not really solving the problem," Ference said. "But we still figured that we're doing something where there are a lot more positives than negatives."

   --- John F. Bonfatti

A Break for the Better

   Any clouds in your neighborhood this morning should quickly give way to clear and sunny skies for today and Sunday, when high temperatures will climb to around 60 degrees

   It's the beginning of what looks like a great period of early spring weather, according to the National Weather Service. Temperatures for the first three days of the work week should in the high- to mid-50s, with a good deal of sun and very little precipitation.

--- John F. Bonfatti

Whirlwind

A strong storm system this week spawned a tornado that flattened an antique store and gas station in Buffalo.

That's the Buffalo in Missouri, not our fair city. We don't get tornadoes, right?

Wrong, as the current issue of The Lake Breeze, the newsletter of Buffalo's National Weather Service points out.

From 1950 to 2007, there have been 103 tornadoes that have hit the area forecast by the Buffalo weather office, which includes Western New York and a stretch across northern New York to the Adirondacks.

Five deaths, 44 injuries and more than $35 million in property damage were caused by these twisters, according to Judith Levan, a meteorologist, who coordinates weather warnings.

The worst here, an F4 classification, touched down near the town of Clymer in Chautauqua County and left a 28 mile swatch of damage. There were no deaths, but plenty of downed trees and damaged buildings.

Have you lived through a tornado? Did you hear a freight train?

--- Michael Beebe

March: The lion ate the lamb

The largest non-lake-effect snowstorm in 24 years highlighed the March weather for Western New York.

   The storm on the 7th and 8th dropped 14 to 22 inches across Buffalo Niagara. The snow contributed to a monthly precipitation total of 4.22 inches, about an inch and a quarter higher than average.

   The snow started four days after a 63-degree reading on the 3rd. The day after that, sleet and freezing rain foreshadowed the big storm.

   The average temperature of 31.6 was nearly three degrees below normal. That helped Lake Erie keep 40 percent of its ice cover.

   For a more detailed summary of the month's weather, for the National Weather Service's monthly climatological report.

  -- John F. Bonfatti

   

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