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Month-by-Month: WNY's Weather in 2014

JANUARY - Blizzard!
The first official blizzard in 21 years struck Jan. 6. “Howling winds” – gusting up to 60 mph – in association with a strong cold front dropped the temperature from an early high of 45 down to 2 degrees that day. Blizzard warnings were posted in the late afternoon as heavy snowfall and high winds cut visibility on the roads to near zero. The second day of the storm, record-tying temperatures of for the coldest daily high – 9 degrees – and a low of minus-5 were recorded. It was the first time since 2009 that the daily high remained in the single digits. Meanwhile, blizzard conditions blasted the area for two more days. In all, 17.6 inches of snow fell during the storm, comprising more than one-third of January’s 42.4 inches of monthly snowfall. The snow total was enough to make the month the 12th-snowiest January in Buffalo’s 129 years of recorded snow history. January’s average low temperature – 12.7 degrees – was nearly six degrees colder than normal and help to take Lake Erie’s ice cover from 24.7 percent at the start of the year to as high as 96 percent near the end of the month.

FEBRUARY - Century Chill
The winter’s snowfall total eclipsed 100 inches early Feb. 27 – making it the earliest Buffalo struck the mark in 11 years. In all 23.3 inches of snow fell in February, the most since 34.1 inches fell during the month in 2011. The cold was really the story of February though. The average temperature of 19.8 degrees – accounting for an average high of 26.5 and average low of 13.2 – made February not just almost seven degrees colder than average, but the 20th coldest February in 144 years of Buffalo’s recorded weather history. On 12 dates in February, the mercury dipped into the single digits, helping to make February colder than January. On Feb. 11, Lake Erie was nearly 96 percent covered in ice – the most in at least six years. On the flip side, the ice-covered lake reduced evaporation, promoting more sunshine. It was the second sunniest February in 20 years.

MARCH - Blizzard 2.0
The second blizzard of the winter arrived on March 12 and dumped 13.8 inches of snow on Buffalo with wind gusts approaching 50 mph. The 24.5 inches of total snow in March nearly doubled the monthly average. And, it was really cold. The thermometer dropped into the single digits or below zero for the first six days of the month. A record low of minus-3 on March 4 tied an all-time low for the month. March’s average temperature – 26.7 degrees – was more than seven degrees colder than normal. Lake Erie was more than 96 percent ice covered on March 6 – the most all winter.

APRIL - Thawing Out
April brought the great thaw. Lake Erie, which started April nearly 67 percent covered in ice, was almost fully open water by the end of the month. Although temperatures were almost right at average, precipitation for the month was not. There were 16 days with measurable rainfall. In all, 5.1 inches of precipitation fell in April – just 0.8 inches below the record set in 1961. It was the sixth-wettest April in recorded weather history. The last of the snowfall – 1.2 inches – fell in April, bringing the city’s final seasonal total to 129.9. That was good for seventh in all-time weather recorded history at Buffalo and good enough for third-place in the national Golden Snow Globe contest.

MAY - Above Average
Lake Erie’s temperature skyrocketed from 32 degrees at the start of May to 55 degrees by the month’s end. That was due, in part, to the fact that May was the 2014’s first above-average month for temperature. The mercury struck 82 degrees on May 9, tying a record set in 2007, and 85 degrees on May 13, tying a record set in 2011. May’s average monthly temperature – 57.7 degrees – was nearly a full degree above normal.

JUNE - A Month of Summer
On June 28, the thermometer struck 89 degrees. It was the closest Buffalo would get to the 90-degree mark in 2014. June finished in 11th place on the list of all-time warmest recorded Junes as the mercury soared, and the month seemed to be ushering in a bright beginning to a long, warm summer. As the year wore on, however, June would later prove to be Buffalo’s only true summer-like month. The average daily high temperature of 78.3 degrees was a full three degrees warmer than normal. It hit 80 degrees 14 times. June’s warmth also heated up Lake Erie’s waters from 57-71 degrees from beginning to end.

JULY - Too Cool for No School
It was the coolest July in five years. And, thanks to below-average readings for two-thirds of its days, the month finished in the top 30 for coolest months of July in Buffalo’s 144 years of recorded weather history. Besides the cool temperatures, it was awfully wet. Rainfall was nearly 70 percent above average, including a few deluges that brought flash flood warnings around the region. For five days in July, at least one-half inch of rain fell – the second-most since the weather service moved its station from the city to the Buffalo Niagara International Airport in 1943.

AUGUST - Lake Monster
August’s biggest news came at the other side of Lake Erie over the first weekend of the month. Nearly 400,000 residents of the Toledo, Ohio area were without water after toxic algae overran the city’s treatment plant. Although no such scare occurred in the eastern basin of the lake, the incident drew international attention to the need to reduce nutrient loading into Lake Erie. In Buffalo, a dramatic warmup in the last third of the month salvaged the thermometer, which was running well below normal earlier on in August. August finished less than a degree cooler than normal.

SEPTEMBER - Warm, Cool and Warm
There was a 45 degree spread in temperatures during September, from a monthly high of 86 during the first week of school – on Sept. 5 – that was followed by an eight-day string of chilly days in the middle of the month. The daily high of 55 on Sept. 12 was the coldest daily high temperature in September since 2009. Still, the mercury struck 70 degrees in September for 20 of the month’s 30 days, allowing the month to finish one degree above normal for temperature.

OCTOBER - Treats and Tricks
Above-average temperatures graced the month of October as the thermometer struck 80 degrees once – Oct. 14 – and made it above 70 degrees seven times. Two of those days – including Oct. 14 – the daily high temperature was 19 degrees above average. The other, Oct. 28, tied a pair of daily temperature records. The high of 74 tied a 68-year-old record and minimum low temperature of 57 degrees was the warmest since 1935. All helped extend a streak of warmer than average Octobers in Buffalo to four years in a row. Thrown in there as the trick was some “graupel showers” on Oct. 4, which officially tied a 34-year-old daily snowfall record for the date at a “trace.”

NOVEMBER - One-Two Punch
For now, we call it “the double lake-effect snow storm of November (2014).” Others have come up with more creative, or vulgar names for it. No matter what it’s called, Nov. 16-21, 2014 will long be remembered in Buffalo. For the 70-80 inches of snow that fell within only a few days. For the 14 deaths. For the buried cars and houses. The collapsed buildings. A two-week Thanksgiving break from school. The 16.9 inches that fell at the Buffalo airport. And, even less than that in the Northtowns and Niagara County. November ended nearly three degrees below normal, despite four days with highs in the 60s. That’s because over a 10-day stint between Nov. 13-22, a rush of polar air gripped the eastern half of the country, plunging the mercury into the teens in Buffalo on four of those nights. The frigid clip plunged Lake Erie’s temperature from 55 to 40 degrees in November – the biggest monthly drop since 1950. Ice even began forming on Lake Superior Nov. 15, making it the earliest that’s happened in recorded Great Lakes history. When all was said and done, officially Buffalo recorded 20.5 inches of snow in November. That was double what November 2013 produced and nearly triple the 30-year monthly average.

DECEMBER - Holiday warmth
It wasn’t just a green Christmas – it was a warm one. Christmas Eve’s high of 57 degrees was just two degrees shy of the all-time record and was the warmest Dec. 24 since the record-setting 1964. It was also the warmest day of the month in a stretch of six consecutive days from Dec. 23-28 that saw daily temperatures of 12-22 degrees above normal. That helped pushed the average monthly temperature to nearly four degrees higher than normal and, as of Monday, into the Top 15 warmest months of December in Buffalo’s 140-plus years of weather recorded history. The lowest temperature of the month was 19 degrees on Dec. 2 but there was a chance of eclipsing that mark as the temperature was dropping while the clock ticked down close to midnight on New Year’s Eve. As of New Year’s Eve day, 9.9 inches of snow was logged at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport with eight of those inches coming in a daily record setting snow on Dec. 11. As of Dec. 31, Buffalo remained in second-place on the winter of 2014-15’s national Golden Snow Globe contest with 30.4 inches, trailing only Grand Rapids, Mich. with 31.3 inches.

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