Tag Archives: National Weather Service

Snow: Remediate and Promote

3 Dec

Big lake effect snow events resulting in accumulation measured in feet.  It’s a way of life not just here, but also in Watertown, Rochester, and Syracuse.  Yet for the past couple of years, we’ve had big snow events that have crippled travel around here, leaving motorists stranded for days.

Meanwhile, almost the entire east of the United Kingdom has been pounded by sea-effect snow as unusual Arctic air from Siberia has swooped over the North Sea to snarl movement and commerce throughout that island nation.  It has crippled travel and left people stranded and unable to go to work.

The difference?  Although the UK is at a more northerly latitude, its weather is quite mild thanks to the moist, warmer air blowing in courtesy of the Gulf Stream of the Atlantic. Buffalo is at 42 degrees North, while London is at 51 degrees North – the same latitude as stark and wild Newfoundland and Labrador. Ireland has palm trees – Newfoundland doesn’t.  It is thought that a newly emerging La Nina event is causing the Siberian air to swoop down over western Europe.

It makes sense that England would have a hard time coping with a days-long dump of snow, as “gritters” attempt to keep roads free of ice and plows try to make their way through roads narrower and less straight than those here.  After all, they’re simply not used to extreme winter weather like this in southeastern England.

Buffalo, on the other hand, is almost synonymous with bad snowfall, yet we cope as ineffectively as the British.  I’m not talking about not being able to keep up with snowfall coming down at 2″ per hour – I’m talking about leaving motorists stranded on the region’s main arterial thoroughfare for 24+ hours.  That’s dangerously incompetent.  Then again, so is the fact that it will take the City of Buffalo several days to plow out all of its side streets in just its southern half.  But the Thruway is notoriously inept and a poor value for money.  Its draconian rules about who can and cannot service motorists on that roadway should have long ago been abolished as unfair, and its refusal to modernize its toll collection system is so inexplicable that the only conclusion is that they’re being punitive.

I’m a proponent of the notion that Buffalo needs to stop whining about our weather and embrace it instead.  Swedes, Russians, Canadians, Minnesotans, and residents of other places with big winters make the most of it. Quebec City is known for its winter carnival every February, when the temperature is negative a million.

Celsius.

Efforts like the Winterfest or Santa’s Park or last year’s Powder Keg make the most of our winter weather, but they don’t go far enough.  Since Buffalo is best known for its snow, we should embrace it and market that.  But we won’t, mostly because Frank Lloyd Wright had nothing to do with it and public money can’t be thrown at it.

I have an idea along these lines, which I’ll discuss in a later post.

But in the meantime, it’s stupid that we moan about an integral part of Buffalo life – our messed up weather, and it’s inexcusable that we can’t effectively clear it.  Buffalo Niagara International Airport’s snow remediation facility is the envy of the world.  So should our road crews.