Erie, Pa., has moved into rare national territory for seasonal snowfall, and is now within 8 inches of Buffalo and establishing a memorable record.
A few inches of new snow since Tuesday lifted Erie to 191.5 inches of snow for the winter. According to Pat DeCoursey, oracle of the Golden Snow Globe and the guy who tracks these snow records, that makes Erie only the third large U.S. city in modern snow reporting history – behind Buffalo and Syracuse – to move into the 190s.
The forecast calls for up to an inch of snow in Erie today, which has already set a record for March snowfall with 35 inches. It won't take much for the Pennsylvania city to move past two epic Syracuse winters and swing into second on the all-time list; Syracuse had 192.1 inches of snow in 1992-93 and 191.9 in 2000-2001.
With the first day of spring - at least officially - only five days away, the big question is whether the Lake Erie snow machine has enough left in its tank over the next month or so to send Erie over 200 inches and beyond Buffalo's all-time record of 199.4, set in the unforgettable winter of 1976-77. But Eileen Lofft, a reader, may have the wisest response to the whole situation:
"Have to be philosophical about records," she wrote. "They are recorded so that we know when they're broken. Nature will have its way whether we fuss or not."
By the way: Today is the birthday of Dave Sage, retired lead meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Buffalo, a witness to those unforgettable winters in the 1970s - and one of the founders of the Golden Snowball.
Sean Kirst is a columnist with The Buffalo News whose column Tuesday charted Erie's quest for the snowfall record.