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Spring warmth ejected for unseasonable April chill

There have been colder starts to April, but not many.

The winterlike chill that has persisted since April Fool’s Day makes this the sixth-coldest April since weather records started being kept at Buffalo Niagara International Airport during World War II.

The wind made it feel like it was in the teens Saturday. Temperatures hovered around freezing. And a half-foot of snow fell near Jamestown.

“We usually see some accumulating snow in the first half of April,” said Jon Hitchcock, a National Weather Service meteorologist. “What is unusual is how often it’s happened through the first nine days of April. We’ve been pretty cold and snowy for really the entire time.”

The first nine days of April, at an average temperature of 33.4 degrees, is about eight degrees colder than normal and has even run considerably colder than the 39.9-degree average temperature recorded in Buffalo during March.

What happened was a dramatic shift in the weather pattern coinciding almost exactly with the flip of the calendar from March to April.

A strong ridge out West disrupted the pattern that prevailed during most of March. While helping warm up places like Alaska, it created a trough in the East where cold Arctic air was pulled down through Canada over the Great Lakes and Northeast. Another ridge that developed over Greenland only strengthened the channel of cold air pouring southward.

The cold weather – with the exception of a brief warmup on a soggy Monday – is expected to persist through mid-week, but it looks as though the next few days will be winter’s last gasp.

Daybreak temperatures Sunday will start at about 23 degrees in Buffalo and warm into the mid-30s. That’s about 20 degrees below the average daily high.

A storm system later could bring another inch of snow to the metro area between 5 and 10 p.m. Sunday but precipitation is forecast to change over to sleet and then all rain as temperatures warm to above freezing early Monday.

Rain and snow showers are possible Tuesday with temperatures in the low 40s. There’s a 30 percent chance of snow Tuesday night as the thermometer drops back into the upper 20s.

Wednesday is forecast to be sunny but cool, in the 40s.

Temperatures finally start moderating Thursday – just in time for the 2:05 p.m. home opener of the Buffalo Bisons at Coca-Cola Field. Weather service forecasts project 54 degrees and sunshine for the day.

Forecasts show high pressure with sunny skies will prevail through next weekend and temperatures finally push above normal – into the low to mid-60s.

That could, at last, break the winterlike pattern that has persisted since April 1.

After Thursday, AccuWeather’s long-range forecast shows the mercury should remain above freezing the rest of April, with daytime highs in the 50s and 60s.

“It looks like spring is on the way,” Hitchcock said. “We just have to hold on for the next five days or so.”

email: tpignataro@buffnews.com and mglynn@buffnews.com