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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.


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…

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 in…

Hermine … and the roads less traveled. For us. The roads, I mean. Not looking for sympathy here, but we’ve had to evacuate beautiful Ocracoke Island, N.C., twice in the last five years. Ocracoke is a 13-mile long barrier island south of Hatteras, with Pamlico Sound on the west and the Atlantic on the east, part of North Carolina’s fabled Outer Banks. The reasons …

This year marks the 200th anniversary of “the year without a summer.” Since we’re having quite the opposite this year, it’s a good time to make comparisons with a unique summer with historically extraordinary bad weather. The summer of 1816 was a terrible time for farming and a worse time for humanity in many parts of the world. The culprit was Indonesia’s Moun…

That most of WNY is in a Severe Drought is serious but somewhat old news. How much rainfall we need to fix the problem is more complicated, and how much we’re going to get is the most complicated of all. Here is a Thursday graphic from National Weather Service HQ in College Park, Md. (Actually, the graphic is from the Weather Prediction Center, a branch of the National …

Some of these topics appeared in a Washington Post Capital Weather Gang article a few years ago. However, I have written on all of the following in past articles and in my former Buffalo Weather Blog. I think they bear repeating. 1. August is the hottest month. Even though August is typically filled with a good supply of steamy days, and even though the hottest day on r…

Buffalo has something in common with Tampa and Miami: None of the cities have ever hit 100 degrees, officially. That's not hard to believe about Buffalo. But Miami and Tampa? Credit the marine layer, in all three places. The ocean and lake-modified layer of air near the surface caps off the ability of the surface air to peak to the higher temperatures of locations not i…

The year 2016 is on track to be the warmest year globally on record, according to NASA and other agencies’ measurements. There can be little doubt of this. Next year, relative to this year, may bring a slower rate of warming. And that will lead to confusion and misrepresentation, but not by climate scientists, most meteorologists and physicists. It will be more a matter …

1.     The official record-keeping observatory for Buffalo moved to the airport in 1943. While Buffalo isn’t necessarily representative of overall WNY statistics, it can be said this has been the worst drought for Buffalo since that move. Even after today’s soaking rains we are still down more than 6” in liquid for the year. But if you add on last December and No…

The UV index was first developed by Environment Canada researchers (go figure – a northern latitude weather service!) in the early 1990s, and it has been adapted internationally. Virtually all of you have heard of this measure of ultraviolet radiation exposure, but only some of us pay it enough mind. Nearly all types of skin cancer are on the rise, including the most d…

This is a Facebook post I made on July 9, last summer: “The newest El Niño Advisory released through NOAA July 9 increases probabilities for a stronger El Niño with greater longevity to last through this coming winter. IF -- a big IF -- this occurs, it would lessen probabilities for another excessively cold winter in our part of the region and increase probabilities of…

Even though we haven’t seen that much lightning around here on all but a few days this year, there is plenty to go around worldwide at any moment. It’s estimated there is an average of 40 lightning strikes per second around the world, with as many as 2000 thunderstorms globally at any moment. NASA estimates about 14.5 thunderstorms occur per year. There is still much…

On the infrequent occasions when we think Buffalo is HOT, people in many parts of the country would have to stifle a laugh. We average about three 90-degree days a year, have gone through stretches of more than two years in which we’ve had no 90 degree days, and we have never reached 100 degrees … we hit 99, just once. The marine layer from Lake Erie usually protects …

Our abnormally dry conditions are small potatoes compared to the severe to extreme drought reigning in rainless southern California and much of the west. And our conditions are unlikely to compare to a serious four- to five-year drought that gripped the Northeast in the early- to mid-1960s. That perspective aside, Western New York is suffering from a serious rainfall defi…

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 rise…