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The numbers game: Buffalo's roller coaster winter of 2018-19

Spring arrives at 5:58 p.m. Wednesday in the Buffalo Niagara region — no thanks to a fishy February forecast by Punxsutawney Phil, who raised hopes of an early spring that were dashed, just like the Sabres' playoff hopes.

Buffalo’s winter of 2018-19 will be remembered for its wild temperature swings, wicked winds and wintry Wednesdays.

The season started warm, with above-average temperatures for the first 20 days. But then came the polar vortex in January and a change in the weather pattern. Forty-four of winter’s final 68 days turned colder than average.

“The month started out warm on New Year’s Day. It was warmer than average for the week or so,” said Jim Mitchell, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service. “Then, we went down to normal and below-normal for the rest of the month.”

That roller-coaster ride, with an early season peak and a drastic drop-off, sounds a lot like our favorite NHL hockey team, doesn’t it?

We’ve got stats for that, too: During the fall, the Buffalo Sabres were 20-10-5. Since winter began, the team’s gone 11-22-4.

The season featured four days when it was warmer here than in Phoenix, Ariz., but 34 days when it was colder than in Anchorage, Alaska.

Winds gusted over 50 miles per hour six days. That’s more than all of 2018.

The biggest swing in temperature came Feb. 7-8, when the mercury plunged 45 degrees – from 60 to 15.

And what is it about Wednesdays? Hump day featured the most snowfall of any day (26.4 inches), the most precipitation (3.57 inches) and the most consecutive weeks with foul weather (seven in a row from Jan. 23 to March 6).

The winter featured a January blizzard, a February wind storm and a snowy start to March. We got six straight days of measurable snow from March 2 to March 7 – the season’s longest streak. Then came winter’s longest streak of days without measurable snow, eight days from March 8 to March 15.

“Typical March,” Mitchell said. “Nothing out of the ordinary.”

Here’s a look at some other weather facts from the winter of 2018-19.

Ice crystals form on a window earlier this month. (Sharon Cantillon/News file photo)

Temperature

High temperature: 66, (March 14)
Low temperature: -4, (Jan. 21, Feb. 1)
Lowest high temperature: 7 degrees, (Jan. 31)
Days below zero: 5
Days over 50 degrees: 11

Average temperature: 26.8 degrees (average: 27.4)
Days above average: 42
Days below average: 44
Days at average: 2

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Snow

Winter snowfall (since Dec. 21): 91.7 inches (9th most on record)
Most snowfall in a day: 17.2 inches, (Jan. 25)
Days with over 6 inches of snowfall: 4
Days with over 10 inches of snowfall: 2
Longest period with snow on the ground, 14 days, (Jan. 10-23)
Highest snow pack: 25 inches, (Jan. 31)

•••

Icebergs in the Niagara River were grounded in shallow water on the southern tip of Grand Island earlier this month. (Derek Gee/Buffalo News)

Wind

Strongest wind gust: 69 mph (Feb. 24)

Buffalo is the Windy City so far this year

•••

Record theater

• Record high, Feb. 7, 60 degrees (previous high of 57 was set in 1925)
• Record high, Feb. 4, 59 degrees (57, set in 1991)
• Record low, Jan. 30, -3 degrees (ties mark set in 2003)
• Record snowfall, Jan. 29, 6.4 inches (6 inches, 1894)
• Record snowfall, Jan. 25, 17.2 inches (10.1 inches, 1915)

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