Share this article

print logo

Buffalo is no stranger to big snowstorms in March

March in Buffalo has produced 10 snowstorms of 10 inches or more since 1870.

Four of them have come in the last 14 years.

And, there's a better than even chance Friday's storm will make five, National Weather Service forecasts show.

Forecasters expect 8 to 14 inches of heavy, wet snow will fall Friday across the Buffalo Niagara region.

What to expect the next 36 hours: 8 to 14 inches of heavy, wet snow

If the snowfall comes in at the higher end, it would rank as the sixth snowiest March day in the city's record book dating to 1870.

The Buffalo Niagara region doesn't have to dig too far into the memory banks to recall March snowstorms.

There have been two doozies just in the last four years.

One, last March, brought nearly 20 inches of snow to the city just as it was preparing to welcome the start of the NCAA's March Madness men's basketball tournament.

That storm, which brought snow over three days, included a 13.2 inch dump last March 14. That remains the city's seventh snowiest March day on record.

As snow inch count rises, no relief until Wednesday night

Four years ago, mid-March brought the second blizzard of the 2013-14 winter season to the city.

Just under 14 inches of snow fell March 12, 2014, making it the sixth snowiest day in Buffalo during March.

Other memorable March snowstorms included:

  • A 13.1 inch snowfall on March 8, 2008.
  • The pre-St. Patrick's Day 2004 storm, when 14.3 inches of snow fell on March 16, 2004.
  • Back-to-back years of foot-or-more March snowstorms in 1992 and 1993, which included the Buffalo Niagara region in the crippling Northeast blizzard.
  • The St. Patrick's Day snowstorm in 1936 that tops the list for snowiest March days, 18 inches.

What gives?

Geography, mostly.

This time of the year, most of the storms that produce significant snowfall are large synoptic storm systems, instead of the lake-effect storms that tend to afflict the region during Arctic outbreaks in December and January.

When Western New York falls on the northern side of the large, moisture-laden storm systems like Friday's, it's often cold enough to snow.

"If we're going to get significant storms, we tend to get them this time of year into April," said Aaron Reynolds, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service.

An inch or a few more of liquid precipitation is expected to fall along a line from northwest Pennsylvania into New England over the next 48 hours. In the Buffalo Niagara region, that will come mostly in the form of heavy, wet snow. (Weather Prediction Center)

There's nothing Arctic about Friday's storm system. It tracked from the Ohio Valley and was forecast to march across northern Pennsylvania to marry a center of deep low pressure, creating a massive nor'easter "bomb-cyclone" off the East Coast.

On its way, the storm's expected to spread the equivalent of 1.5 to 2 inches of liquid precipitation just north and south of a line straddling the New York-Pennsylvania border, the federal Weather Prediction Center showed.

"We're on the northern end of it," Reynolds said. "It has just enough cold air to make snow."

Reynolds expects this storm will conform to the conventional 10:1 ratio of inches of snow-to-liquid ratio.

Then, the math gets easy: 1 inch of liquid equals 10 inches of snow.

Farther south where surface temperatures are expected to remain warmer, less snow is expected.

More of the precipitation is expected to fall as heavy rain, forecasters said.

There are no comments - be the first to comment