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Don Paul

Don Paul is a frequent contributor on weather/climate for The Buffalo News. He is also a staff meteorologist for WKBW and a former chief meteorologist for WIVB.


Weather

Here is another reason to be glad about the Western New York climate and our environment: We don’t have dust storms. Dust storms will be increasing over many parts of the globe, as they already are in such places as the southwest United States. Fine dust particles create spectacular visual impact and immediate hazards to people. This is demonstrated in a brief safety vide…

Weather

The ice on the western side of the Antarctic continent is melting much faster than just a few years ago. That’s especially significant because this ice melt speeds up sea-level rise. (When sea ice thaws, that doesn’t contribute to the rise, but when land ice melts in these quantities, it spells trouble.) The NASA-supplied image at right tells part of the story. In t…

Weather

My last article focused on the best way to measure heat discomfort, comparing dew point and relative humidity. Let’s go past the comfort issue and move on to heat illness. Nationally, heat is one of the leading weather-related killers, with hundreds of victims annually. Fortunately, Western New York experiences fewer episodes of dangerous heat than most other parts of t…

Weather

It’s not a matter of “You like tomato and I like tomahto" from “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off.” Dew point and humidity are not identical. They are both used to measure moisture content in the air, and they are both very useful and accurate. But when it comes to measuring human comfort as we more frequently encounter sticky conditions in the summer, dew point is more accur…

Weather

Diseases spread by mosquitoes and ticks are on the rise in the United States, both in geographic coverage and in numbers of victims. There is reason to believe a warming climate is playing a role in these trends, but that is a far cry from assigning all of the blame to climate change. There is a statistical correlation with an increase in tick and mosquito borne disease…

Weather

Weather forecasts generally become less reliable the further out in time you go. Many nonscientists understandably assume the identical principles apply in predicting the extent of global warming and climate change. However, that is not quite the case. Climate prediction operates on a vastly longer timeline. Its models are designed specifically to filter out the day-to-…

Columns

Some disturbing data and statistics on children’s drownings were recently sent my way by a not-for-profit organization, Safe Kids Worldwide. Now that we’re headed into the heart of the swimming season, including in the warming Great Lakes, here’s what you need to know. About 1,000 children drown each year in the United States. Roughly 70 percent of the drownings occur b…

Columns

A previous article discussed some basics about lightning. Now, we move on to avoiding becoming a target. Some of the rules nearly everyone has heard. Don’t stand under a tree. Don’t hold on to a metal fence. Get out of the pool. Those are obvious, although some folks can be found ignoring such advice, actually standing under trees or staying in the pool. The odds of bein…

Weather

There are about 1.4 billion lightning discharges globally in a year. Each second, about 40 to 50 strokes occur. In terms of numbers and types of discharges, 5 to 10 more intracloud, or cloud to cloud, discharges occur than cloud to ground. Talk about a lot of static. The National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) in Norman notes two other basic types of lightning categori…

Columns

Recently I wrote an article on the role of meteorologists in aviation safety. I discussed one hazard known as clear air turbulence, or CAT. CAT is the biggest cause of in-flight injuries in civil aviation. CAT is essentially invisible both on radar and to the cockpit crews’ eyes. There are geographical regions which are known to be more commonly associated with CAT, …

Weather

Many people know the chilly waters of Lake Erie in the spring and early summer can seriously weaken thunderstorms passing over the lake. For example, a chilly breeze from the lake is what saved Western New York on May 31, 1985, from the full impact of a major tornado outbreak that killed 88 people in northeast Ohio, northwest Pennsylvania, southern Ontario and eastern N…

Weather

I’ve avoided the chemtrails topic for the same reason I won’t poke a stick into a hornet nest. Hornet stings are painful, but the sting of chemtrails believers is something from which I’ve been hiding. This article may prove I was wise to hide. If you’ve never heard of the chemtrails conspiracy, it’s the belief the government is spraying us all with varying types of nas…

Weather

Raise your hand if you’re a nervous flier. OK, even mine is slightly raised. No doubt, nasty weather adds to those fears whether down on the ground or up in the air. What do airlines, their meteorologists, government meteorologists and the FAA do to enhance your weather safety on a routine basis? More than you might think, though there is space here to discuss only a…

Weather

Having worked in Wichita for a year, I considered myself fortunate to have experienced only a few tornadoes during that time. After all, I was new in my profession and only just beginning to realize how little I knew about them at the time. This spring has been extraordinary in the plains. Through Monday, Oklahoma has experienced zero tornadoes. That's a record tornado …

Local News

Of course May will be warmer than April. It doesn’t take a degree in meteorology to figure out that one. On the other hand, we had forecast March would be colder than February, thanks to the very warm last two weeks in February and a coming pattern change that verified that  forecast. With the sun coming up to a higher angle in the sky, it would be much more difficult f…