Visitors enjoy the balmy temperatures at Canalside at lunchtime Friday. (Cathaleen Curtiss/Buffalo News)

For only the third time in Buffalo's weather recorded history dating back to 1870, the temperature reached 70 degrees in February.

The city shattered the city's daily record for warmth Friday that dated back 111 years to a time when Theodore Roosevelt occupied The White House.

The mercury officially soared to 71 degrees between about 1 p.m. and 1:15 p.m., breaking the previous record for Feb. 24 by four degrees.

It also equaled the all-time warmest day in February in the city's history.

On Feb. 26, 2000, the thermometer also crested to 71 degrees.

On average, Buffalo's normal daily high temperature doesn't reach 71 degrees until May 30, according to weather service data.

Some online data suggested Buffalo may have reached a new all-time mark of 72 degrees, but officials at the National Weather Service confirmed that "a rounding error" between conversions between official measurements in Celsius and display readings in Fahrenheit resulted in the discrepancy.

Forecasts predicted the temperature in Buffalo would push toward 70 degrees today. (National Weather Service)

The unseasonably warm temperatures were generated by a surge of warm moist air being pulled up from the Gulf of Mexico ahead of a strong low pressure system.

That same storm system, and an associated cold front, will help to rapidly drop the mercury on Saturday from the 60s at breakfast time back down into the 30s by dinner.

Coming to Buffalo over the next few days: all four seasons

Only twice in Buffalo's recorded weather history has the temperature reached 70 degrees in Buffalo in February. Besides Feb. 26, 2000, the other day was Feb. 21, 1997 when it reached a high of 70 degrees.

The recent spate of warm days has also all but eliminated any ice on Lake Erie.

Last Friday, the lake remained about 8 percent covered in ice.

That figure slipped to just 0.02 percent as of Thursday's data by the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory.

During a typical year, this is the week when ice cover peaks on Lake Erie, according to laboratory data.

Buffalo's warmest February days recorded at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport. (xmACIS2)

So What was the Buffalo of Feb. 24, 1906, like?

In the last week of February 1906, it was booming – it was, at the time, one of the biggest cities in the nation.

A glance at front pages from this week 111 years ago showed the big news was the trial of Eugene A. Georger, who was accused of stealing $1,150 from the German Bank.

Unfortunately, President Theodore Roosevelt had declined an invitation to attend a travelers' convention in Buffalo, and salaries at the water bureau were unexpectedly high.

A curious item on the front page of the Feb. 26 paper mentions an inquiry in Cheektowaga to "determine if there is any basis for the charges that dynamiting of fish is going on in the Niagara River."

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