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Cold and snowy end to November

Posted on Nov 29, 2013

I do not need to tell anyone in the western New York or even Great Lakes region about how cold it has been in the last couple of weeks considering it is November! As of yesterday Buffalo has been -2.0 °F so far this month compared to long-term climate averages while Erie comes in at -3.0 °F, Rochester -1.6 °F, and Watertown -1.5 °F, all despite having had some strong surges of warmth heading into the 60s at a couple points in November. This is Barcelona Harbor in Westfield and its weather station beginning to freeze up.

Barcelona harbor ice DSC_2977

Barcelona harbor ice DSC_2997

This blast of arctic air also led to both lake effect and synoptic scale snowfall. The very cold and very dry air masses have helped to limit some of the lake effect machine but it was assisted by a powerful nor’easter that gave much of New England a much-needed soaking rainfall while throwing freezing rain, sleet, graupel and snow all the way back to the Lakes. Here is a current snow depth map for our region.



We hope that the snow continues and we can hold on to this pack through mid-December in Chautauqua County so that the snowmobile trails can open on day one for our winter trails cell phone tour! The snow has helped to make some of our more common fall and winter passerine species a bit more noticeable with additional American Tree Sparrows, Snow Buntings, Horned Larks, White-throated Sparrows and the like visiting roadsides, weedy areas and yards. Twan has noted Tundra Swans flying over his home on multiple days as they move south with the waters freezing to our north. Here’s some of snowy central Chautauqua County.





Long-term forecasts are usually very tricky. Our long-range models only go out to around two weeks away, and many scientists believe this sort of period is as far as we will ever be able to accurately predict actualized weather due to the incredible depth and complexity of the chaotic forces in our atmosphere. However, we can for the most part come to some conclusions about generalized weather trends. From what we can see I think it looks likely we will continue this slightly colder than normal pattern and have around average precipitation in the Great Lakes region for now with a potential change in the 7-10 day period. It is a difficult winter to predict overall due to the lack of any El Niño or La Niña sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific waters as these departures (higher for El Niño or lower for La Niña) typically influence the season’s weather in the U.S. We will have to wait and see what it has in store for us all.


Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation & Outreach Coordinator

Photos © Twan Leenders