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Don Paul

Don Paul is a frequent contributor on weather/climate for The Buffalo News. He is also a staff meteorologist for WKBW and a former chief meteorologist for WIVB.


Weather

Back on Oct. 12, I predicted winter would be getting off to a slow start, but that odds favor a more “typical” winter developing than last year’s unusually mild and less snowy winter, by around the end of December or early January. The slow start part was a good call and remains so as we head toward early December. By “typical,” I mean more common ups and downs with mor…

Weather

Quick answer: Not Western New York. Quick disclaimer: There is no blizzard in sight, so relax. A Weather Channel link that took me to a study published in an American Meteorological Society journal back in 2002 was the primary source for this article. That paper is as relevant today as it was then, so its information is still very useful. First: What is a blizzard…

Weather

“Cold air over warm lake waters equals lake-effect snow.” Right? Not entirely, and there is not nearly enough information there for a useful forecast, especially a geographically targeted forecast. Here are some basic principles, before we get down to the nitty-gritty. The greater the difference in temperature between the lake surface and the atmosphere at about 5,000 f…

Weather

The election made me do it. Writing this essay sprung from listening to statistical polling analyst Nate Silver in the car the other day. He thought one of the many flaws in the presidential polls and their interpretation came from polling companies and media analysts failing to communicate the inherent uncertainties in polls that show a 3 or 4 point spread. Relax; t…

Weather

If not for Hurricane Matthew, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA would by now have in place a revolutionary new weather satellite: the GOES-R. But will GOES-R be “one giant leap for mankind?” If not for mankind, the answer is yes for meteorologists, solar physicists, emergency planners, transportation safety and efficiency. The current opera…

Weather

Much of what I’m presenting here is based on the work of researcher Dr. Judah Cohen, of MIT and AER, a private sector forecasting company. Some decades ago, he found a statistical correlation between above average October snowfall in Siberia and a tendency for a wintrier pattern across many parts of Eurasia and eastern North America. In quite a number of autumns, Cohen …

Weather

Let me be clear: The following article is not a criticism of either our local National Weather Service forecast office or other local offices, or the quality of the scientific staffing in most of the National Weather Service. The staffing is generally first-rate and world-class in academic expertise. And I believe no other government weather service on the globe can match …

Weather

One reason most of Western New York has never experienced an EF-4 or EF-5 monster tornado is the proximity of Lake Erie and its cooler waters during spring and early summer. When the lake surface is cooler than the air mass overhead and over land, as the heated air over land rises, the cooler and denser air above the lakes will rush in on a lake breeze to replace the ri…

Weather

On Oct. 14, President Obama issued an executive order putting into motion plans for the nation to develop contingency plans to deal with potentially paralyzing  impacts from a future extreme space weather event. Space weather is a catch-all phrase that includes solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) from the sun, along with less potent ongoing cosmic rays and ot…

Weather

As of a few days ago in October, snowfall for the month is a bit above average over a portion of Siberia. What does that have to do with the price of tea in China? What MIGHT it have to do with what kind of winter we can expect in eastern North America? A couple of decades ago, MIT researcher Dr. Judah Cohen started his statistical research on a potential relationship b…

Weather

The “October Surprise” is something I hope to never déjà vu all over again, meteorologically. Heavy October snow was not unique in all Buffalo history, but it was unique in my lifetime and unique in the lives of meteorologists working then right up to this day. There had been some very early season major lake snowfalls in our more distant past, including 1906 and 1930. …

Weather

Part of this article is about weather and part of it is about climate. “Climate is what you expect; weather is what you get” is an old saying in my field, and it’s about right. But this summer makes the distinction fuzzier. Globally, the Associated Press tallied many nations’ weather and emergency agencies and reported more than $50 billion in damage and more than 2000 de…

Weather

I’d venture a guess that all of my colleagues around these parts have gotten social media requests for a winter outlook by now. Many such requests have been directed my way. There is no shortage of winter outlooks to be found in social media, a few from bonafide meteorologists, but the majority from amateurs some of whose amateur status is quite rank (read: poorly informe…

Weather

As I completed a quiz Wednesday to see how badly I needed to take an online course in forecasting aviation turbulence (if I did aviation weather, I would definitely need to complete this course, believe you me!), a recent article that was directly related caught my eye. A British atmospheric researcher at the University of Reading has postulated that climate change may be …

Weather

If you need the ultimate example of a runaway greenhouse planet, look no farther than Venus. It has an extremely thick atmosphere which is 96 percent carbon dioxide. That concentration of CO2 is the reason Venus’ surface temperature averages around 860-864 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to melt lead. This is despite the constant cloud cover which blocks solar inpu…