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Will another lake-effect 'no storm' blow through Buffalo Friday?

Buffalo might have a hard time forgiving Lake Erie for last November.

But, what fueled the week-long double lake-effect snowstorms that buried parts of the region under seven feet of snow is also what protected Buffalo Niagara from the severe weather that struck most of the upper Midwest and Northeast late Wednesday.

That included a small tornado that dropped into the outskirts of metro Rochester.

"Lake Erie had a lot to do with it," said Aaron Reynolds, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Buffalo, about why Buffalo escaped the brunt of Wednesday's weather, and may again on Friday.

"The lake waters are a lot cooler," Reynolds said. "It stabilizes the lower level of the atmosphere and keeps the thunderstorm development down."

Sound strange?

The proof is in the pictures:

National Weather Service radar as of about 9 p.m. Wednesday as a strong cold front pushed through the region. Thunderstorms, some severe, extended along a line from Ottawa, Canada to Omaha, Neb. Downwind of Lake Erie? All clear.

Severe thunderstorms extended along a line from Ottawa, Canada to Omaha, Neb. in this NWS radar image from 9 p.m. Wednesday. Downwind of Lake Erie it was all clear.

This is where the lighting was striking about 9 p.m. Wednesday. Observe the 200 mile pause between Western New York and central Ohio. That's not an error. (LightningMaps.org)

Here's where lighting was striking about 9 p.m. Wednesday. Observe the 200-mile gap between Buffalo and Toledo.(LightningMaps.org)

Lake Erie's temperature in Buffalo harbor Thursday was a chilly 58 degrees as compared to an air temperature at Buffalo of 83 degrees.

So, despite a forecast that called for the potential for severe thunderstorms, high winds, heavy rain, hail and even "a low risk of an isolated tornado," what Buffalo got was a peak southerly wind gust of 41 mph and a measly 0.01 inch of rain at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport.

The fiercest storms, at least across Upstate New York, struck late Wednesday in the Finger Lakes region. The Rochester International Airport recorded 1.58 inches of rain and a peak wind gust of 58 mph Wednesday, according to the weather service.

"It was just a tad further east," Reynolds said.

The weather service reported Thursday morning that its storm survey team confirmed an EF-0 tornado resulted from the severe storms. It occurred about 9:50 p.m. two miles east-northeast of Padelford, which is between Victor and Canandaigua, and packed winds up to 70 mph.

Now, another storm system is bearing down. Friday's weather forecast puts Western New York under the gun again with a repeated call for potentially severe weather.

Lawyers say that "past results don't guarantee future outcomes," but what about meteorologists? Can Buffalo escape again?

"We'll have to see," said Reynolds.

 

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