The hottest and coldest months in 146 years of Buffalo’s recorded weather history could be separated by a mere 18 months.
That’s because August 2016 is poised to become the city’s hottest month on record, and February 2015 was the all-time cold in Buffalo, and it still evokes shivers.
Through the first 23 days of August, National Weather Service data shows the average daily temperature in Buffalo was 76.2 degrees.
It’s the same sweltering mark that July 1921 has held for 95 years as Buffalo’s hottest month ever recorded.
The thermometer over this month’s final week will determine whether Buffalo relives weather history for the second time in a year in a half – only in reverse.
“We definitely have a shot at it,” said Shawn Smith, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service. “We are on pace right now to match that July, and looking at the next couple of days, we’ll be above-normal.”
The National Weather Service’s forecast for the balance of August looks favorable to at least equal the 1921 mark.
As of late Wednesday, the high temperature was listed at 82 degrees with a daily low of 61 degrees at about 5 a.m.
Forecast highs over the next six days promise readings in the low to mid-80s with warm overnight lows in the upper 60s near 70 degrees.
“Once you have that very humid airmass in place, as long as it stays in place, it’s hard to get cooler at night,” Smith said. “The dewpoint can’t drop below the temperature.”
Smith said this summer has been warmer than average because of a “persistently southerly flow” of air.
“The winds of the atmosphere have been bringing the air from the south,” Smith said.
It’s kept area weather statisticians marveling at the results.
• Monday was the first below-average day for temperature in Buffalo since July 20.
• For 20 consecutive days ending Sunday, the temperature reached at least 80 degrees at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport, the sixth highest on record.
• There were 33 consecutive days when the temperature stayed above 60 degrees at the airport. That’s the second longest streak. It ended at 4 a.m. Tuesday.
• Temperatures passed 90 degrees four times this month, equaling the yearly average number of 90-degree days in Buffalo.
Temperatures are forecast to remain warm through the end of the month, pushing well above the average high of 77 degrees, and low near 60.
The weather service’s forecast temperatures through next Tuesday night average 76.15 degrees per day, suggesting the monthly mark will stick at 76.2 degrees.
That would make this August a lock to finish as the warmest August on record in Buffalo.
The top three to date are August 1947, 75.2 degrees; August 1959, 74.8 degrees and August 1955, 73.8 degrees.
When comparing the warmest August against the rest of the calendar, think “Olympic record” versus “world record.”
July holds the top four hottest months ever recorded in Buffalo with July 1921’s all-time mark of 76.2 degrees being the peak of any month for warmth.
If the mercury over the next week crests just a little higher than forecasts, that all-time mark is in jeopardy.
Cooler than forecast days or nights, however, might put it out of reach.
If there’s a tie, don’t expect this August to get left off the podium.
“We stay right to that decimal point,” Smith said. “The tenths place.”