Nobody has ever dreamed, waxed poetic or written a song about a “Windy Christmas.”
But that’s what Western New York got early Thursday morning, as the National Weather Service reported peak gusts of up to 67 mph, along with sustained winds above 40 mph in some lakeshore areas.
“We’ve heard of several trees and power lines down, and there have been reports of power outages,” National Weather Service meteorologist Jon Hitchcock said at about 9 a.m. Thursday.
National Grid reported roughly 1,500 homes without power in Erie, Niagara, Genesee and Orleans counties, led by 609 in Orleans and 520 in Erie.
The high winds and weather also were listed as the likely causes of a partial collapse of a brick warehouse at 1270 Broadway in Buffalo, near Memorial Drive. A wing of the building underwent partial demolition later Thursday. The collapse, reported at 7:34 a.m., also caused some exposure damage next door, at 1286 Broadway, city fire officials said. The Red Cross was called to assist three adults chased from the house after the collapse.
The heavy, overnight winds also toppled a chimney in North Buffalo – on Huntington Avenue at Voorhees Avenue.
Veronica Hogle, who lives across the street, spotted the toppled the chimney from her kitchen window Thursday morning.
“It’s kind of amazing to look over and see all the bricks on the lawn,” she said, describing the wind power as “just an amazing force.”
The strongest overnight winds blasted through the area between 11 p.m. Wednesday and 2 a.m. Thursday, Hitchcock said. Peak gusts of 67 mph were recorded at 12:23 a.m. in North Tonawanda, along with 61 mph gusts at the Niagara Falls Airport, at 12:59 a.m. The highest reading at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport was 56 mph at 1:10 a.m.
Sustained winds climbed above 40 mph along the lakeshore, including a 49 mph reading at the Dunkirk Lighthouse, according to the weather service.
Such high winds are no surprise, following the outright balmy conditions that saw temperatures soar into the high 50s Wednesday.
“We get these strong warmups a couple of times a winter, and the warmth usually ends with a strong wind event,” Hitchcock said.
Anyone lamenting the lack of a white Christmas might be surprised to learn that that’s not so unusual.
“We only average about 60 percent of Christmases as white,” Hitchcock said.
A white Christmas, by National Weather Service standards, is defined as having at least 1 inch of snow on the ground at 7 a.m.
And this year?
“Not even a flake,” Hitchcock said.