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Don Paul: Wearin' o' the insulated green in store for St. Patrick's weekend

Don Paul

“And the good news is…” we are done with the kind of the cold we had last week, with single-figure lows and daytime teens. Actually, a breath of spring is headed our way later in the week, but that warm breath will have been expelled just in time for St. Patrick’s Day weekend.

The warmth actually will be coming to us by way of an immense and deep storm system heading across the central plains on Wednesday:

A storm with 973 millibars central pressure is unusual in that part of the nation. The isobars, or lines of equal barometric pressure, wrapped around the low show a southerly breeze beginning to develop near Western New York. This downslope flow should take our high temperatures to the upper 40s and low 50s Wednesday, even with the low way back in Kansas. We get the benign impact from this storm, with a roaring blizzard to the northwest of the storm center, where you see all that blue and the isobars packed tightly behind the low. In fact, here is the winter storm watch already issued by the Cheyenne, Wyo., National Weather Service concerning the ominous impacts on the colder side of this storm for the high plains of eastern Wyoming and western Nebraska.

On the warmer side of the storm to its southeast, showers and strong to severe thunderstorms will break out with temperatures in the 70s.

By Thursday, the low will be in a favorable position to bring a strong south southwest downslope flow into Western New York. While we may get some showers in the afternoon, temps will move up to the 50s in the Southern Tier, and the low 60s inland from icy Lake Erie’s influence on the Niagara Frontier (not nearly so warm close to the lake):

On Friday, gusty west southwest winds will take our above-average temperatures and begin dropping them back through the 40s by afternoon as the low passes well to our north and northwest.

So we come to the fiscally endangered Old First Ward Parade, which is a go for at least this year.

Weatherwise, it’s back to cold reality. Not brutal, mind you, but it will be cold and breezy Saturday. And there may be a few flakes flying as well, but only a few. A brisk northwest breeze will take parade temperatures near 35 and produce a wind chill in the low to mid 20s. There should be some bits o’ sun to help on a northwest flow. In any case, we know experienced Buffalo paradegoers have put up with lots worse than this kind of chill:

Sunday’s parade will again feature cold temperatures. The average high for the 17th is 42, but no such luck this year. However, it will be dry and sunnier, with much less of a cold breeze. Parade temperatures will again move toward the mid 30s:

For past parades there has been measurable snow on a few occasions, but usually not much. An 18-inch storm occurred on March 17th in 1936, but that was midweek. On the other hand, we’ve had lots better than what we’re getting this year, too. The mildest parade occurred in the incredibly warm March of 2012, when we topped off at 73 degrees, the only time we broke 70. This year’s readings are not unusual. Parade temps have been in the 30s and 40s almost 50 times. Last year, we hit 38. I also seem to remember one year in the mid or late '80s in which the Sunday parade was canceled due to horrific cold with gusty winds presenting a major threat of frostbite and hypothermia. Frankly, I was one of the primary agitators to urging cancellation or postponement that year because of the severity of the expected conditions, which did materialize.

What kind of pattern follows next weekend? As far as temperatures go, there isn’t much to be encouraged about the following week. This American/GFS ensemble shows the upper air pattern favors more colder-than-average conditions, with a warm western ridge of high pressure in North America and a cold trough near the Great Lakes:

There is good agreement on this in other ensembles as well. As far as snow potential, it is simply too far off to venture a guess on precipitation the following week. I can only say it will be cold enough for snow, and suggest I wouldn’t rush to take winter tires off just yet.

However, there are encouraging signs we’ll break out of the cold pattern by around the 24th or 25th when milder air of Pacific origin will displace the arctic air.

Beyond that, most extended range guidance (which I’ll caution is far from anything carved in stone) does favor a milder-than-average April. If accurate, that means April wouldn’t just be milder, which is common sense. It would be milder than April typically runs. Here is the NWS North American Multi-Model Ensemble/NMME on monthly temperature departures from average:

If you’ve misplaced your reading glasses, that orange shade over us is a good thing.

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