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Midsummer heat drags into September as students head to school

The opening school bells rang across Western New York on Wednesday — but it still felt like a midsummer day.

The warmest start to September since 1973 kept alive the months-long trend of above-average heat and humidity as the temperature hit 90 degrees.

And, it was OK with many Buffalo Niagara residents.

"I love it," said Jack Wesley of Elma, who finished nine holes at the Grover Cleveland Golf Course. "I'm going to plant a palm tree pretty soon."

Wednesday marked the fifth straight day with temperatures in the 80s or above. Combined with high humidity, the unseasonable warmth prompted heat advisories from the National Weather Service across most of Western New York because it felt like it was in the upper 90s in places. Average highs for the first week in September in Buffalo are in the mid-70s.

"We're mostly winter here, so I'm happy with warm weather while it lasts," said Jennifer Smiley of South Buffalo.

Smiley and others beat the heat with their children at Cazenovia Park, where splash pads remained open.

"You wait all year for summer to come, and then it's too hot," said Rachel Schultz of South Buffalo, who visited the splash pad with her children, her mom and nieces and nephews. "I'm really grateful the mayor decided to keep these on. We already took down our swimming pool, so this is nice."

Wednesday's heat index, which reached the upper 90s in many spots, prompted Buffalo Public Schools to cancel afternoon athletic practices, as required by state law.

Despite the seemingly oppressive heat this summer, Wednesday was the first time Buffalo hit 90 degrees since July 20.

It was the sixth time in 2018 that the city's reached the mark, which is twice the city's annual average but far short of the record number of 20 days in 1955.

Don't like the heat? You're in luck.

"The good news? It's going to cool off," said Dave Zaff of the National Weather Service.

A weak cold front moving through the region is expected to drop temperatures Thursday back into the upper 70s with overcast conditions expected and chances for showers.

Even so, Zaff said expect warmer-than-average temperatures to persist a bit longer.

"We are expected to remain above-normal a good portion of September," Zaff said.

Forecasters trace the streak of heat and humidity to late June.

Since June 29, the mercury struck at least 80 degrees on 50 of 69 days. So this year ties 1983 for seventh-place since Buffalo weather records have been kept.

It's also the fourth time this decade it's been that warm. There were 55 days in 2016 and 52 days each in 2011 and 2012, weather service data shows.

Also, for the 71st consecutive night, temperatures remained at or above 55 degrees Wednesday. That's the longest such streak since a run of 80 days in 1938.

Warm overnights have been common this summer.

Since 2000, Buffalo's summertime overnight temperatures have been above-average 12 times. (xmACIS2)

Wednesday night was expected to be the 16th night this year with temperatures at least 70 degrees or warmer since July 1. The average over that same time period is 7 days.

High humidity plays a big part in that.

"There has been more moisture available this summer," Zaff said.

That humidity, and overnight warmth, are main reasons why Buffalo's mean average temperature since July 1 is the third-warmest on record dating back to 1870.

None of those numbers — or the numbers on their golf cards — kept Wesley or his golfing partners, Bill Berst of West Seneca and Larry Fradin of Williamsville, from hitting the links Wednesday.

And they hope to return as soon as they can.

"I love summer," Fradin said.

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