The hunt for warm October sank in Buffalo on Oct. 11.
That meant October 2018 – the month that held Buffalo's most 80-degree October days since 1953 – will officially go down in the record books as 0.3 degrees below-normal for temperature.
Three weeks of cold fronts, waterspouts and graupel will do that.
"We had two extremes," said Aaron Reynolds, meteorologist at the National Weather Service. "We had 10 or 11 days when it was above-normal, then it started into a downward trend with continued troughiness with a colder pattern, and a little wet."
The tale of two Octobers – the first 11-day period was 8 degrees above normal, followed by an anomalously cool 19 of 20 days all at or below normal for temperature – served to bring the month in at about a half-degree colder than an average October in Buffalo.
Officially, there was 0.1 inch of snow measured at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport – which mainly fell as graupel Oct. 20 during a storm that spawned waterspouts on Lake Erie and Lake Ontario and a brief EF-0 tornado in West Seneca.
The ups and downs of October are about normal. From a meteorological point of view, it's Buffalo's most changeable month, forecasters said.
"This isn't anything out of the ordinary," Reynolds said.
Will the persistently below-average pattern continue into November? If it does, what could that mean?
For starters, November should start somewhat seasonal. And no, there's no snow – or early appearances by the polar vortex – in the immediate forecast.
National Weather Service forecasts show temperatures will start out in the low to mid 50s through early next week, with the exception of a chilly Saturday in the mid 40s.
Temperatures are forecast to return to 60 degrees by next Tuesday, Election Day, for the first time since Oct. 14. Rain appears likely, however, forecasts show.
"We're going to warm up a little bit," Reynolds said. "To see a fundamental pattern shift? We'll have to wait and see."
Four of Buffalo's last six Novembers trended below-average temperature-wise. It was more than 5 degrees warmer than average during the strong El Niño of 2015, just a year after an early visit by the polar vortex helped to spawn the double lake-effect snowstorm of November 2014, known to locals as "Snowvember."
Forecast models offer mixed messages about what to expect across the Northeast – including Western New York.
Federal climate forecasters said suggestions remain that an El Niño pattern is emerging, but its development has remained sluggish.
El Niño conditions favor warmer than normal temperatures across the upper Midwest and Northeast.
"Forecasts of autumn climate are especially difficult, and the November 2018 outlook is no exception," the federal Climate Prediction Center said.
Overall, the Climate Prediction Center estimates there's a 33 to 40 percent chance for above-average temperatures across Western New York, with about average precipitation. And, there's even more certainty the region will trend above-average for temperature over November's first two weeks.
The average high temperature in Buffalo for the first week of November is in the low 50s with overnight lows normally in the mid to upper 30s.
Like October, however, probabilities for continued warmth are reduced as long-range forecasts suggest below-average temperatures retaking control over the last two weeks of November.
We'll just have to wait and see.
Still think GFS forecasts of pinballing and Gumby like stretching of the #PolarVortex elevates the risk of a an early season (possibly late November) #cold air outbreak into eastern North America. I don't see it yet in model forecasts and is still highly speculative. pic.twitter.com/EchotK99tI
— Judah Cohen (@judah47) October 30, 2018