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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.


Even I had heard if you are outdoors and feel your hair stand on end, you should crouch to reduce your profile and lessen the risk of an immediate strike. The reality: There is zero evidence to support that idea. Get moving to a shelter! Never lie flat on the ground; that increases your contact for conductivity. On average, NOAA reports lightning kills 47 people in t…

Many of the much-feared cuts in science proposed by the new administration have vanished in the omnibus budget bill passed by Congress. There was bipartisan support in Congress to avoid most of the drastic cuts in scientific research that were on the table. We don’t have the space to go through all the restorations, but the publication Science has done a good job ca…

Only local National Weather Service Forecast Offices can issue official tornado warnings. That’s not a job for the private sector, nor should it be. The confusion which would ensue with multiple warnings coming from multiple sources could cost lives. So, how is the NWS doing with this life-saving part of their mission? Recently, not as well as might be expected. …

Now that Earth Day and the March for Science are behind us, I’d like to bring you a look at ongoing climate science and some seeming paradoxes surrounding it. Carbon dioxide is up more than 40 percent since around 1880, and humans have caused nearly all of that increase. The Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii, the longest-running site for precise carbon dioxide measureme…

I’ll open with a disclaimer: Summer outlooks are fuzzy, by nature. In general, the weather and its patterns are less well-defined during summer months than during the winter. The low-pressure troughs and high-pressure ridges are flatter, the polar jet stream is slower and retreats to the north, and the storm systems that cross the nation are weaker…"in general.” Tha…

Many allergy sufferers already know we’re off to a tough pollen season for this early in spring. The warm winter has moved the blooming season ahead of schedule, and there has been plenty of precipitation to assist in developing full foliage. At this time in April, the primary culprits in our region are pollen grains from maple, poplar and elm trees. While (to my know…

While there have been disturbing signs of major cuts in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/NOAA and NASA’s budget in vital climate science, it appears NOAA’s National Weather Service will not be suffering an identical fate and philosophy of neglect. Congress has sent a 97-page bill to President Trump which will actually invest $1 billion in National We…

It’s safe to assume the majority of white knuckle drives are related to weather. It can be snow, fog, heavy rain or even light rain. I drive a sedan which is equipped with a safety sensing package which warns me if I’m drifting out of my lane and can even steer me back into my lane if I ignore the shaking steering wheel. If I’ve been lackadaisical about steerin…

Western New York is not exactly tornado alley. Longtime residents know we are not immune to them, although the recent lack of activity may make it seem so to newcomers. In my first spring here on May 31, 1985, a mega-outbreak which included eastern Ohio, northwest Pennsylvania, southern Ontario and upstate New York produced 44 confirmed tornadoes resulting in 90 fatalities…

Coal is still the big, big cheese in heavy industry and power generation in much of the world. Despite that, President Trump’s Tuesday speech concerning his environmental regulation rollback and a big jobs comeback for our embattled coal miners is not likely to meet his expectations, as much due to market forces as it is to environmental regulations. In the United …

At the outset, let me tell you some theoretical human health impacts from ongoing climate warming in the mean are just that - theoretical. I was brought to this topic by an article I received from what I consider an advocacy group which might not be as objective as I’d prefer. I sought out what I feel is a more objective organization with a deeper foundation of scientifi…

I decided to write this article on what will surely be the coldest day for the remainder of March. Thermally, we have nowhere to go but up, right? In the longer term, most guidance, including the 46-day experimental European output, favors temperatures to run above seasonal average for much of the spring in the plains, the Midwest and much of the Northeast west of centr…

The mean global sea level is going up by 3.4 millimeters per year. The majority of that increase is tied to ongoing warming due to human activity, including the burning of fossil fuels, as well as deforestation. The rising sea levels occur due to freshwater ice melt and the expansion of sea water due to warming (water expands as it heats). The largest sources of freshw…

I choose to write on this topic at a time when my forecast and those of many of my local colleagues are doing just fine in the midst of our long-duration winter storm. The timing is not coincidental; I’m not as dumb as I look! A busted forecast is a fuzzy phrase that purports to describe a forecast gone bad. Some laypeople call forecasts busted that are nowhere near m…

For the 33-plus years I’ve been in Buffalo, I’ve been talking about about downslope winds, maybe even to the extent of ad nauseum. We currently are at the start of a March cold snap. For those of you who hold the cold in disfavor, downslope is precisely the kind of wind you need – but won’t get – for the next week or so. A downslope wind is one in which air fl…