Tag Archives: weather

One Month

29 Apr



The difference between March 31st and April 29th.


3 Jan

1. I alternated between WBEN 930-AM, the Buffalo news station, and a Torontonian station, 680 News (CFTR) Friday morning. WBEN did the list of closings, traffic & weather, news, and featured several interviews with people who work outside, commenting on what it’s like to work outside (breaking – it’s cold when it’s cold, and hot when it’s hot). 680 went through its repetitive pattern of news, weather, traffic, sports, business news, and commuter issues. There was no talk of school or business closings. Just typical big-city news. It was a fascinating comparison. 

2. Cold feet? The warmest socks I ever owned were marketed in the US as “Swiss Army socks”. They aren’t anymore, but you can buy them online from the Swiss manufacturer, Rohner. The original is CHF 28 (about $32), and shipping is a flat $10.60 for orders under $160. I am still looking for an American retailer who carries them, but they’re worth every penny, IMHO. 

3. Even with very low temperatures, somewhere in Buffalo there will be a guy walking around today in shorts and boots. 

4. I coined a new word yesterday wholly by accident – “sloppery”. It is a portmanteau of “sloppy” and “slippery” and described the super-fine powder causing people with crap tires to slide around the roads Thursday and Friday. 

5. Speaking of which, get yourself some snow tires

6. My predictions for 2014 are contained in this article for the print edition of Artvoice

7. Trina Tardone and Emily Trimper, come on down! You’re the next contestants on, How Creepily Did Dennis Gabryszak Sexually Harass You?! (That makes 6 accusers. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire; but where there’s a blazing inferno, shit’s going down.)

7. Nickel City Chef 2014 tickets go on sale today. They may already be sold out. 


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.


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.

Quick Saturday Thoughts

6 Feb

1. It is fundamentally unfair that for the past few winters, the east coast has been battered by one or two bad Nor’easters while Buffalo has gotten a smattering of snow here and there.

2. Governor Ravitch?


10 Jan

Most people who consider themselves sane and live on the Niagara Frontier rave about the summertime, with our deep blue skies and cool lake breezes. Our winters are long, lasting sometimes from early November until the leaves return in early May. Spring and autumn are abbreviated afterthoughts that sometimes never come.

But I’ll take the winter. The bitter cold, the endless snow. The warm drinks and indoor fun. The blue light and the muffled sound from the freshly fallen snow.

Good Morning

30 Oct

Deep Thought: Lists

11 Feb

Forbes’ addition of Buffalo to a list of “most miserable cities” is as pointless, useless, and irrelevant as any other list Buffalo ever got added to. Especially the lists that people mindlessly stuff the ballot box for.

Buffalonians know why it’s nice to live here. The outside world thinks – and will for the foreseeable future continue to think – of Buffalo as a rusty, Gertrude Steinian nowhere. I picked up a kids’ board book about New York at B&N the other day, and Buffalo was depicted as a rusty factory icon, and had no entry. Niagara Falls was the only significant entry for WNY.

The weather here is not significantly different from the weather in any other northern city – Stockholm, St Petersburg, Toronto, Minneapolis, Montreal, Winnipeg, Oslo, Helsinki. We whine about it and get made fun of about our weather, but instead of embracing the one thing we’re known for, we say we’re sunnier than Orlando. Screw that. We’re also snowier than Orlando. There are ways to market that and ways to capitalize on that, but instead we go on and on about things like “sense of place”, to middling effect.

Snow in Buffalo

23 Dec

Is there really an excuse for the city not to have laid a plow down on every single road within its limits by midday yesterday? It’s not like snow is a rarity here.


19 Dec

Given the breathless reporting about today’s snowstorm, you’d think we didn’t live in Buffalo, NY, or that it seldom snows.

Where I used to live, 3 inches of snow cripples things and shuts down schools and government offices. Here, it takes a foot of fresh snowfall to make people sit up and start to take notice.

It’s That Time of Year Again

4 Dec

About 5 years ago, I discovered that you don’t need all wheel drive or an SUV to safely drive on the snow. You don’t necessarily even need traction control. I grew up somewhere where anything over 3″ of snow accumulation meant widespread panic, while here people don’t get fazed by a foot at a time.

Snow tires. All you need is a good set of four snow tires. I first became a convert when I put a set of Hakkapeliitta 2s on a Jetta Wagon that had no traction control. Those tires enabled that car to stick to the road like glue. A set of Dunlop Graspic DS-2 weren’t as good, nor were the Hakka RSi. Blizzaks are quite good – Revo1 not as much as the WS-50.

This year, I found a set of four studded Nokian Hakkapeliitta 4s on eBay, and paid just over $375 to buy and ship them here from Oregon. (That’s a bargain – those tires probably retail for about $150/ea). They are 17″, so they fit on the existing GTI rims, and were installed about two weeks ago. The studded tires make some noise, but we finally got to try them out in earnest a couple of nights ago when a wet, slushy, heavy snow fell across the region. Those tires were like Krazy Glue keeping that car stuck to the road. It was as if we were driving through a gentle rain rather than the kind of slush that starts to pack down and become almost ice when left untreated, but trodden-on.

The other GTI is rolling on 16″ steel wheels, and I had 2 Revo1 Blizzaks that still had enough tread on them to go on the back, but had to get 2 new tires for the front – I went with what they had, which was the WS-50. Yes, it’s supposed to be bad to not run a complete set of identical 4 tires, but they’re all winter service approved, and the new, better tires are on the front, where it matters. The last couple of days have seen some accumulating snowfall downtown, and the car worked like a champ while others were slipping and sliding around.

We live in a wintry environment, and no matter how great of a driver you are, all-seasons don’t cut it when the snow and ice start blowing. Really prudent, serious drivers will add snows to AWD vehicles around here, and it does matter. Especially for lateral control – all-seasons or just straight AWD may enable you to go from a complete stop on a slippery mess, but when turning, you need that deeply, frequently siped tire to keep from sliding in a turn.

I find that Finland’s Nokian makes superior snow tires, and it makes sense, given that their climate is not unlike ours.