As Western New York closes out its potentially coldest month on record, the regions of the world that gave us the terms “Siberian Express” and “Alberta Clipper” are defying their reputations for the next few days.
Barring an unexpected warm-up, February will enter the local record books this weekend with an average temperature dipping below 11.6 degrees, which occurred in February 1934.
With overnight readings below zero continuing, Thursday’s high will be 10 degrees, according to the National Weather Service in Buffalo. Ditto for Friday, and Saturday’s high is forecast at 16 degrees – before March arrives with relatively warmer weather Sunday.
However, there may be some snow.
Meanwhile, the southern part of Siberia, as well cities in the province of Alberta, Canada, will be basking in high temperatures largely in the mid-20s and 30s.
The cold-air masses known as “Siberian Express” and “Alberta Clipper” have been popularized through weather reporting.
“They’re sort of used in the meteorological community,” said meteorologist Shawn Smith of the National Weather Service.
“They describe the source of the air mass; where the air mass is coming from,” he added.
There’s also the “Pineapple Express,” which describes moist air originating in Hawaii that reaches the Western United States.
“Polar vortex” is another popular term, but Smith said that it was used incorrectly in 2014 to describe outbreaks of polar air that reached the Lower 48.
“There’s always a polar vortex,” said Smith, describing it as the air that typically oscillates around the North Pole, although it’s been known to wobble off into Siberia or northern Canada.
“Whenever we get these cold outbreaks, [we’re] just getting a piece of it – not the polar vortex,” he said.
Still, as Buffalo continues to shiver through the month’s end, there are no clippers heading out of Alberta, where high temperatures the next few days will range from the mid-20s to mid-30s. And the air that’s going to be expressed from Siberia falls within the same range.
Even North Pole, Alaska, will be warmer than Buffalo, with daily high in the 20s.