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On this date ...

... in 1926, a nasty evening thunderstorm blew through the area, with lightning touching off several barn fires in Angola and Eden, 50-mph gusts knocking down telephone poles and flash floods overwhelming Hertel Avenue.

That's the kind of detail you'll find under Buffalo Weather history at the Web site for the National Weather Service's Buffalo office.

It won't tell you everything that happened on every Aug. 6 in the city's recorded weather history, but you can pick any date, and it will show you a year (sometimes two) when particularly memorable weather occurred on that date.

--- John F. Bonfatti

Mostly rain-free weekend, nice week ahead

   The weather service says the bulk of the weekend will be rainfree, with Sunday looking to have the lower chance of precipitation.

   After the weekend, the week ahead looks like one of the nicest ones we've seen all summer, perfect for those taking the now-popular "staycation."

   There is a 30 percent chance of precipitation Monday, but dry, warm weather is set to remain through at least Thursday.

   --- John F. Bonfatti

Be Careful What You Wish For

It's another partly sunny, partly dreary, partly rainy day around here, and some folks are beginning to fear that the summer of '08 might be a wash-out. Not totally, mind you, but there's been enough rain for people to complain about one too many canceled outdoor events, soggy picnics, and trips to the beach cut short by thunder and lightning.

Well, folks, at least our lawns are lush and green and our lakes have water.

The same cannot be said for the western part of the country.

Having just returned from a trip to California, I was shocked to see the state's hills and fields a sad shade of yellow or a scorched shade of black.

Everything is dry as a bone and fires rage all over the state. I was in Palo Alto, an area safe from fire (for the moment), but the morning air was still thick with smoke.

While flying toward the San Francisco Bay Area, the pilot told passengers that the fluffy white plumes seen below were not clouds but smoke from the fires ripping across Northern California. So much smoke, we could see it from 35,000 feet.

A week later, flying back into Buffalo, the land below looked beautiful - green, clean and fire-free.

It sure was good to be home.

--- Susan LoTempio

Winds of Change?

  I have a theory: The precipitation and storm belt has shifted from the favored South Towns into the Tonawanda-Amherst-Clarence corridor during the past decade. Or so it seems.

   Some of the biggest meteorological events of the past 10 years in Western New York have focused on the northern suburbs. There was the pre-Thanksgiving freak blizzard of 2000 that paralyzed North Buffalo, Williamsville and Clarence for a day. That was followed in 2001 by the incredible Christmas Week 7-foot dumping in the North Towns. This past winter and spring, howling wind storms took down many pine trees in the northern suburbs. And most famously, the October Surprise storm focused most of its fury in areas north of Buffalo.

   Even the forecast for this Saturday is for clouds and storms in areas north of Buffalo, while those in the Southern Tier and South Towns will enjoy a sunnier day.

   A co-worker who lives in Elma has been coming in lately saying, "Wow, it looked pretty ominous up your way last night. Looked like you were getting some rain. We sat out on the deck most of the evening. It was pretty nice."

   The other day a co-worker who lives in Williamsville said he was driving to a sunny golf outing in the South Towns and noticed black clouds looming in the rearview mirror.

   So what gives? Is this a fundamental change in the way the lakes are channeling clouds and storms? Is anyone else noticing this trend?   

-- Rick Stanley

Windy waterfront

It was breezy this afternoon at the newly opened Erie Canal Harbor downtown, and that was fine with retired postal worker John Cronin of South Buffalo.

"As long as we've got that breeze, it's nice," said Cronin, who was touring downtown's newest attraciton with his wife and brother.

Not long after I talked with Cronin, though, clouds rolled in quickly. Still, forecasters see another nice day Tuesday before mid-summer heat and humidity takes over for the last part of the work week.

--- John F. Bonfatti

Perfection?

Anytime I write about our winter weather in a less-than-positive tone, I inevitably receive e-mail from people telling me they love winter weather and that I shouldn't be so negative.

I grew up in New England skating and skiing, and I still do both. I enjoy being in winter weather - up to a point. Otherwise, I tolerate and accept it as part of the deal when you live in Buffalo. I don't think I've ever said (or thought) that I love winter.

The weather I love is occurring today: sunny skies, temperatures in the mid-70s and low humidity. It's the kind of weather I brag about when people outside of the area bring up (as they inevitably do) Buffalo's "awful" weather.

For me, today is about as close to weather perfection as it gets.

--- John F. Bonfatti

Just a reminder

We covered this in a previous blog, but it's worthy of a reminder: the National Weather Service is having its open house this Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Weather Service office, 587 Aero Drive, Cheektowaga.

Those who attended the last open house will see a newly-redone interior, as well as new family-friendly exhibits outside in the parking lot under tents.

These have been very well attended in the past, which tells me a lot of people have more than a passing interest in weather forecast. If you're one of those types, and you're looking for something a little different to do this weekend, check it out.

More information can be found here.

--- John F. Bonfatti

Wackiness continues

The nutty weather continued yesterday.

Friday and Saturday: Lovely

Sunday: Not so much

I showed my friend, a new intern here at the News, Buffalo's new beach. It's so repetative to say, but we're both beach-loving Floridians so I just had to show her. The weather did not make a good impression on her. It was windy, dreary and freezing. Beaches are breezy, bright and hot.

Today's weather is a lot more uplifting. The sun hasn't hid yet this morning and will warm us all to a high of 70. It's expected to get partly cloudy from 1 to 6 p.m. Enjoy the sun before it goes M.I.A.

---Natalie Morera

Entering June and Hurricane Season

Be happy Buffalonians.

We're entering June and weather is getting nothing but better for us. But for our friends down south, tomorrow is hurricane season. There's already been a slight scare with the chance of a tropical depression hitting Florida. That depression, name Alma, already hit Nicaragua and dissipated.

I'm a survivor of Hurricane Andrew. I was 5 years-old when it destroyed my house ... while my family and I were inside. Bad memories, bad weather. There's nothing I will miss about Florida hurricane seasons. Dealing with 20 inches of snow and cabin fever is great in comparison.

If you hate the slight cold chills we're getting, I want you to sit back and think about those hurricane preparations you don't have to do. Buying water, canned goods, generators, wood to put over your windows, hurricane shutters can get exhausting and expensive.

--- Natalie Morera 

The long-range forecast

A colleague forwarded a link from an interesting post he saw on Stephen J. Dubner's Freakonomics page of the New York Times web site about the accuracy of TV weather forecasts.

Dubner's guest blogger was a Kansas City man who, along with his young daughter and other family members, did a 220-day survey of how reliable the forecasts were for daily high temperatures and precipitation.

His general conclusion, not surprisingly, was that the forecasts were pretty accurate for the short-term and not so accurate beyond that.

"We have no idea what’s going to happen beyond three days out," one weatherman is quoted as saying, which dovetails roughly with what most meteorologists I've talked with say when asked about long-range forecasting.

--- John F. Bonfatti

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