Oh the weather outside is frightful
November 18, 2014 1:00 PM   Subscribe

Winter doesn't start for another 33 days but today all 50 US states posted temperatures below freezing - yes, even Hawaii - and three feet of snow fell overnight south of Buffalo with no signs of stopping (and it looks like a snow haboob).
posted by troika (114 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Booooo.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:01 PM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


What is this winter you are talking about? 65 degrees is merely fall. (Sorry, I can't get over how people in South Florida consider this uncomfortably cold even with a jacket on)
posted by wierdo at 1:03 PM on November 18, 2014


"Climate change": because you can't say, "We fucked up our environment," on TV without getting bleeped.
posted by starbreaker at 1:03 PM on November 18, 2014 [8 favorites]


Today I learned that "cold" in LA is forty degrees and now I'm beginning to understand why Southern Californians are so smug all the time.
posted by jetlagaddict at 1:03 PM on November 18, 2014 [15 favorites]


Well, if the whole country's turning into Wisconsin, I recommend drinking lots of beer and rooting for the Packers. Gets us through the winter here just fine.
posted by escabeche at 1:04 PM on November 18, 2014 [29 favorites]


Yeah - but please, at all costs, avoid voting for a Scott Walker.
posted by symbioid at 1:09 PM on November 18, 2014 [27 favorites]


No you're a snow haboob.

It is kind of cold here in Texas, but that just means putting on a coat, really. We've had weather this cold this early before. My kid was excited by the light snow dusting, and thinks that a cold winter means white Christmas. We don't really get that fancy snowman-making snow here much, just a few inches, so that one good snowball fight cleans off your lawn.
posted by emjaybee at 1:09 PM on November 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


I was amazed at how cold it was today, especially given that it's seemed unseasonably warm here in Maryland for all of fall (which I think also lead to some really disappointing fall foliage).
posted by codacorolla at 1:10 PM on November 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


Wait, are you sure it's not a frost chinook?
posted by theodolite at 1:10 PM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


snow simoom has a better ring to it.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:11 PM on November 18, 2014


91cm of snow in Buffalo overnight. Think about it, you go to sleep and when you wake up in the morning there is 91cm (3 feet) of snow in your driveway. How do you even begin to clear that? And what if someone gets a heart attack or injures themselves while clearing the snow? There is no way they can get to the hospital.

I'm just glad I'm on the right side of the Great Lakes.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 1:12 PM on November 18, 2014


Isn't below freezing is pretty normal for Hawaii's Mauna Kea summit?
posted by HumanComplex at 1:12 PM on November 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


thanks for the annoying earworm
posted by thelonius at 1:13 PM on November 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


I have not seen the earth but for its ice mantle for more than seven years now, here in this frozen palace we call Omaha. The only animals we see anymore are birds who have mistakenly journeyed above us and won't make it back to warmth before they die -- we sometimes find their tiny carcasses and cook and eat them. There is little fuel left -- we burn the possessions of the dead, and then the houses of the dead, and then the dead themselves. I burned up Conor Obserst not yesterday, and he gave me little warmth, as his music had in life.
posted by maxsparber at 1:13 PM on November 18, 2014 [103 favorites]


Obligatory.
posted by brundlefly at 1:13 PM on November 18, 2014 [6 favorites]


I moved to Iowa and went native, because it's 20 degrees out, and I'm planning to go for a run after work.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 1:14 PM on November 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


even Hawaii

Well, yeah, when you record the temps almost 14,000 feet above sea level (aka where most of Hawaii is), you're going to see snow and 0 C.

FYI it's 29 C / 84 F here in Honolulu today. EAT THAT LOS ANGELES
posted by a halcyon day at 1:15 PM on November 18, 2014 [9 favorites]


That actually seems pretty normal for Buffalo. My grandfather used to tell stories about when he was a mailman- occasionally he'd drive in to the postal depot from Hamburg, and be unable to drive back because a literal wall of snow had appeared across Lackawanna.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:17 PM on November 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


I actually am going to be attending an outdoor-sports enthusiast event tonight, thrown by an urban-outdoors-fans group I found, which has these monthly events in a sports shop for everyone to meet, swap suggestions about Cool Stuff to Do, and endure a brief pitch about The Latest In Gear Technology. I usually wouldn't be into this kind of thing, except for the fact that this one's is supposedly about "the latest in cold weather hiking gear", and so this is especially well-timed.

And so this also means that I'll probably be just fine with the weather until we get that first slushy piffle of snow that makes the MTA freak out and shut everything down because that's when I get all cranky that the city can't ever not freak out about snow and all my friends have to listen to me grumble about the year when there was a blizzard in my podunk-ass home town in Connecticut where the snowplow drifts were taller than my father but they didn't cancel school and so I STILL HAD TO GO, DAMMIT....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:18 PM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


That "snow haboob" picture is like something out of a nightmare that I kind of want to have, but only once.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:20 PM on November 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


Obligatory.

I just sent her a link to an XKCD comic.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:21 PM on November 18, 2014 [9 favorites]


Pick a month, any month. We've had snow and subzero temps.
posted by blue_beetle at 1:22 PM on November 18, 2014


I burned up Conor Obserst not yesterday, and he gave me little warmth, as his music had in life.

I believe the proper technique is to slit open Conor Oberst's belly and huddle inside for residual heat and shelter from the wind.
posted by escabeche at 1:24 PM on November 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


*the Immigrant song plays faintly in background*
posted by The Whelk at 1:26 PM on November 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


It's...Buffalo? It does that.

I'm near Rochester, and it is indeed chilly (low 20s F). But we're actually supposed to be back up to around 50 later this week, so.
posted by thomas j wise at 1:26 PM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


If you are interested in following the stuff in Buffalo, may I recommend checking out this section of NYS thruway traffic cams? The snow is almost all south of the city so the first couple of cameras just show a light dusting then all of a sudden it's iced-over lenses and stranded 18 wheelers.

That actually seems pretty normal for Buffalo.
Oh, totally. I really love the band action of lake effect storms (except when I was younger and the bands would skip us so school was still on, waaah). For whatever reason Lackawanna always seems to be in the middle of it, too. I know they have adequate plowing capacity, I guess they're just wildly unlucky (or it's my confirmation bias). There was a big Christmas storm a few years ago and Lackawanna plowed snow into the parking lot of the abandoned Kmart, you could climb them up to touch streetlights.
posted by troika at 1:30 PM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


FYI it's 29 C / 84 F here in Honolulu today. EAT THAT LOS ANGELES

I'm very sorry about your heat wave, but I don't think you can blame us for it.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:39 PM on November 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


I may not always like snow, but when I do, I like lake-effect snow the best.
posted by dry white toast at 1:39 PM on November 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


When a friend escaped the Texas heat wave and drought to move to Buffalo a year and a half ago, I teased him about the first picture I found of Buffalo weather. He downplayed it as a fluke and an exaggeration. Then last winter provided the most snowfall Buffalo has had in 12 years.

I'd feel more schadenfreude right now if I was confident that the storms were going to stop at "rubbing it in" levels and not return to "weather-related-deaths" levels.
posted by roystgnr at 1:40 PM on November 18, 2014


every time someone mentions lake effect snow i hear the inception noise in my head
posted by poffin boffin at 1:41 PM on November 18, 2014 [7 favorites]


I find it fascinating that the last to places to record freezing were the top of a 14,000 ft mountain in Hawaii and Rhode Island. The mountain I get, but how is it that Rhode Island was the last place to freeze in the other 49 states?
posted by Runes at 1:42 PM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


My grandfather used to tell stories about when he was a mailman- occasionally he'd drive in to the postal depot from Hamburg, and be unable to drive back because a literal wall of snow had appeared across Lackawanna.

Heh. Reminds me a' that time I was out ridin' an' got caught off guard by thisheer super-outbreak storm that'd blowed up all a'sudden. April a' '74 it was, just outside a' Zeenyah, Ahia.

Saw the sky turn green and that front comin' in and I tuck off ridin' hard as I could t' try n' outrun the storm. And I tell ya, it was a close-on thing. Me and Ol' Paint got home dry all right -- but poor Shep, who was following just a few yards behind had t'swim the whole way!
 
posted by Herodios at 1:43 PM on November 18, 2014 [6 favorites]


The localization of lake-effect bands is just amazing. At our house (basically at Harlem and Kensington), we don't even have enough snow to cover the grass. But if I drove just a few minutes south on Harlem, like to just past the mall, I'd be dodging white walkers.

My office at UB has a view to the south, and it's always... impressive... to look out at the blue sky that comes to a screeching halt at a band of thick, sullen clouds that are black from the ground to what feels like the stratosphere.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:45 PM on November 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


The mountain I get, but how is it that Rhode Island was the last place to freeze in the other 49 states?

Rhode Island (and the rest of New England) are a little further east and the deep freeze didn't reach us until this afternoon. Moreover, Rhode Island is small and mostly very close to sea level, so it doesn't have any nice tall outlier mountains like Mt. Washington or Mauna Kea to provide lower readings than the surrounding lowlands.

New thing I learned today: The highest peak in Rhode Island is 812 feet above sea level.
posted by pie ninja at 1:51 PM on November 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


Seeing an article about the weather in Buffalo this morning almost made me stop whining about the 10 degrees F (windchill 0) and inch of snow I woke up to. Almost. It's still only fucking November. We usually only get a few days a year this cold, and those in January.
posted by dilettante at 1:52 PM on November 18, 2014


how is it that Rhode Island was the last place to freeze in the other 49 states?

I'd wager the proximity to the ocean has a lot to do with that - it's surprisingly insulating. My parents live on Cape Cod, and have noticed a similar effect - it'll often be several degrees warmer on the Cape than it is further inland.

And I know you're thinking of Rhode Island as just this little blocky state and are wondering about Northern RI, but if you look at a map, it's got that huge notch in it in the east that runs as far north as Providence. Most places in the state are only about 15 miles from some kind of salt water.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:52 PM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Governor Cuomo just tweeted this picture from the now closed NY State Thruway in Buffalo.
posted by dry white toast at 1:57 PM on November 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


Yeah, given the current temps in Kingston plus heavy wind gusts coming off Lake Ontario over here, I'm learning that my winter in this city compared to the past five winters in eastern Quebec is going to be quite different. This wind, guys, holy shit, it's murder.
posted by Kitteh at 1:59 PM on November 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


You know, a part of me has recently been idly wondering what it would be like to live up by the St. Lawrence Seaway. Now I'm maybe thinking that it may not be such a swell idea.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:03 PM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Interestingly, Syracuse gets more snow than Buffalo even though Buffalo generally gets more press for their snow. I guess it's because Buffalo gets more snow earlier in the season when they are one of the few places getting snow. It is sort of a tortoise/hare situation.

Buffalo and Syracuse both get a fair amount of snow from for just being located in the north. But they both get so much snow because Buffalo gets lake effect snow from Lake Erie and Syracuse gets lake effect snow from Lake Ontario. However, Lake Erie freezes over and Lake Ontario does not. When Lake Erie freezes over, Buffalo stops getting lake effect snow. Syracuse never stops getting its lake effect snow from Lake Ontario.

Buffalo may be jumping out to a large lead now, but I expect Syracuse will catch back up by the end of the season.
posted by flarbuse at 2:12 PM on November 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


The St. Lawrence Seaway? Probably pretty tropical down there.

Who decides when winter starts, anyway? It seems like a bad idea to say that it is "offically winter" when we live dispersed over so many lines of latitude. Around here winter starts at the end of October, and that's just the way it is. Nobody likes it, but you can't argue with the weather.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:13 PM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Interestingly, Syracuse gets more snow than Buffalo even though Buffalo generally gets more press for their snow.

And Syracuse isn't a patch on Watertown. I had more than one occasion when I would walk to work in Syracuse in a windbreaker and be told that our Watertown office was closed because the building was under a snowdrift.
posted by Etrigan at 2:16 PM on November 18, 2014


The St. Lawrence Seaway? Probably pretty tropical down there.

Even with the wind blowing across Lake Ontario?....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:17 PM on November 18, 2014


The Polar Vortex missed the entire West Coast here; I credit the Polar Cortex.

Currently 75F in reportedly-beautiful San Luis Obispo, but it did get down close to 40F last night.
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:20 PM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


In Minneapolis we had just 6 months and 11 days between the last major snowstorm of April (over a foot) and the first big one of November.

Not that I'm counting or anything.
posted by miyabo at 2:21 PM on November 18, 2014 [12 favorites]


I believe the proper technique is to slit open Conor Oberst's belly and huddle inside for residual heat and shelter from the wind.

And I thought he sounded bad on the outside.
posted by entropicamericana at 2:23 PM on November 18, 2014 [18 favorites]


Today I learned that "cold" in LA is forty degrees...

More like 60. That's about the time the beanies and down vests start showing up.
posted by sideshow at 2:26 PM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


wierdo: "What is this winter you are talking about? 65 degrees is merely fall. (Sorry, I can't get over how people in South Florida consider this uncomfortably cold even with a jacket on)"

Here in Orlando it's going to be in the 40s. North of here it will be 20s. As for south Florida. Well, who can figure them out?
posted by Splunge at 2:28 PM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


More like 60. That's about the time the beanies and down vests start showing up.

I was explaining the Southern California definition of "winter" (I'm from Los Angeles) to my undergrads, all from upstate NY. They seemed strangely unimpressed.
posted by thomas j wise at 2:37 PM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


roystgnr - that photo is from the Blizzard of 77, which was insane. I live 30 minutes from Buffalo, across the border in Canada. That storm was easily the worst weather I've ever seen. Snow drifts were as high as houses.
posted by davebush at 2:39 PM on November 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


Obligatory.

I just sent her a link to an XKCD comic.


I appreciate that you think people like that would ever want to be educated, instead of living in Cognitive Dissonant MurdochSoudbiteLand.

Speaking of Science, I have to admit I don’t know this: Can a large area, a chain, of inland lakes also affect precipitation totals? Sometimes it seems we get a bit more out where I live now.
posted by NorthernLite at 2:42 PM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Here in Missoula MT, we've been tracking or beating the record low temps for about 10 days now, and it's only gotten above freezing once that whole time. The wind chill has been out of control where I live at the mouth of the appropriately-named "Hellgate Canyon" - I get windchafed just thinking about walking out of the house lately. Brrrr!
posted by dialetheia at 2:48 PM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Lake effect snow is an astonishing thing to drive through, especially since the phenomenon so often occurs in otherwise bright and clear conditions. The sensation of plunging into an opaque wall of snow from blue sky weather is strange and dramatic, and the aftermath almost incomprehensible.

A few years back some small villages up on the Tug Hill had more than ten feet of snow on the ground so we took a drive to see what that looked like. Five miles away the ground had a mere dusting; this quickly changed to a scenario where the road was bordered by tall, smooth, white walls. There was no sense of place at all--no signage was visible anywhere. We spotted a couple of access tunnels folks had dug to their homes (which were otherwise not visible) and a large group of Amish who were traveling door to door pushing snow off barn roofs. What we thought would be an amusing drive was actually kind of scary and claustrophobic. Again, the rapid shift in conditions as we drove south again was shocking; ten minutes from those walled roads things were sunny with maybe an inch on the ground.

It's also notable that lake effect precipitation contains very little actual moisture, and melts down quickly once temperatures shift.

If there must be snow, this is the place for it; folks are vigilant and prepared. A good two-stage blower or a contract with a plow driver are considered winter essentials. As well as a well-stocked liquor cabinet and a sticky ounce in the freezer for times when nobody's going anywhere.
posted by kinnakeet at 2:53 PM on November 18, 2014 [6 favorites]


Lake effect snow is an astonishing thing to drive through,

that wears off REAL quick, believe me
posted by pyramid termite at 3:03 PM on November 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


Feeling a bit of schadenfroide here on my chunk of Canada sticking out into the north atlantic; we had a blast of warm, moist Caribbean air last night that sent the temperature up to 17 Celsius.
Just a temporary blip though. Winter comes a bit later to Nova Scotia than the continent, but it stays a whole lot longer.
posted by Flashman at 3:11 PM on November 18, 2014




Interestingly, Syracuse gets more snow than Buffalo even though Buffalo generally gets more press for their snow.

Houghton, MI invites you all to kiss its frozen snowy ass.
posted by eriko at 3:22 PM on November 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


we will as soon as houghton's frozen snowy ass stops dumping snow on us
posted by pyramid termite at 3:23 PM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


that wears off REAL quick

I agree that driving through lake effect snow is enervating, frustrating and terrifying. But after doing it for more than 40 years I still find it astonishing.

A friend of mine visited from Bangkok a few years ago during a pretty good lake effect event. He had grown up locally but had not seen snow in decades. Watching his facial expressions as I drove him to the airport through a snowburst still gives me a huge smile.
posted by kinnakeet at 3:30 PM on November 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


I agree that driving through lake effect snow is enervating, frustrating and terrifying.

the terrifying part is being on the freeway with idiots who think they can drive 70 mph in this weather - do they do that in ny? they sure do in michigan

i stay off the freeways in bad weather
posted by pyramid termite at 3:36 PM on November 18, 2014


Even with the wind blowing across Lake Ontario?....

You got me there. I've no idea what it's like to live beside a giant body of water.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:54 PM on November 18, 2014


I expect Syracuse will catch back up by the end of the season

more like by the end of the week
posted by poffin boffin at 3:54 PM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


i'm one of those people who gets full of pain during abrupt weather changes. I was sort of rolling around on the bed trying not to wake the neighbors while watching Under the Skin and it made the movie maybe more nonsensical and nightmarish than it would be otherwise.
posted by angrycat at 3:56 PM on November 18, 2014


Heh.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:04 PM on November 18, 2014 [11 favorites]


THE WIND. OMG. THE WIND. It's trying to kill me, I swear.
posted by Hildegarde at 4:11 PM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


This was the wrong month to get a young greyhound who needs seven miles of walks a day to avoid having to periodically peel him off the ceiling.
posted by winna at 4:29 PM on November 18, 2014 [8 favorites]


There's a great lake across the street from where I live. The breeze has been smack-you-in-the-face refreshing this week, yes. This is the type of weather that makes me glad I chose a cat instead of a dog.

On the other hand, winter here smells a lot better than summer, so I admit I kind of love it for that reason. And a nice snowfall makes the city seem clean for a little while, which is nice.
posted by heyho at 4:34 PM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah, given the current temps in Kingston plus heavy wind gusts coming off Lake Ontario over here, I'm learning that my winter in this city compared to the past five winters in eastern Quebec is going to be quite different. This wind, guys, holy shit, it's murder.

Yeah. It's winter. Get a scarf.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:52 PM on November 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


Heheheh. I reverse commute from the city of Buffalo to the suburbs. Mark Poloncarz banned me from driving to work today. So I spent a gorgeous, albeit cold, day at home.
posted by tippy at 5:21 PM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Spent 20 years in Buffalo. There was a storm like this in 2001. Maybe only about 40 inches in 24 hours, but by the end of the week it was about 90. I don't miss it.
posted by oflinkey at 5:25 PM on November 18, 2014


Bitterly cold in Toronto today. People will often say to me, when I grump about Ontario winters, "oh, you're from Newfoundland, you must be used to the cold!" In ordinary circumstances I will grumble at them that, temperature-wise, St. John's actually has a mild winter by Canadian standards, that it's south of Vancouver and by the sea, that the average January high in my hometown is just shy of 0 c, that it gets much colder in southern Ontario, etc.

Today, it was -8 C (17.6 f) in Toronto with a cutting wind. I was on the phone with my parents, home in Newfoundland. "Oh, it's 15 here!" (59 f).

It's lucky no one pulled a "oh, you must be used to the cold" on me today, because I probably would have screamed, or had some kind of fit.
posted by erlking at 5:28 PM on November 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


o hai. Reporting in from the front range of Colorado where our city parks department has been grooming for nordic skiing for the past five days now. The bike race on Saturday that I did in 10°F and 6" of snow with an additional inch of powder falling during? That was pretty brisk, also fun, especially in the area where they built a giant frozen icy sand pile for us to run / ride over and the hecklers offered bourbon handups to the unlucky few who did this.

the ski resorts are all totally stoked too because we went from less than 5% of normal snowpack for the month on 10 November to powder days and easily 80-90% of normal pack in less than seven days, and Aspen announced it's opening a week ahead of schedule. So as it turns out, we pretty much sent all of it your way.

you're welcome!
posted by lonefrontranger at 5:31 PM on November 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


More like 60. That's about the time the beanies and down vests start showing up.

If Oakland drops below 60F daytime, one starts to see scarves, earmuffs, mittens, heavy parkas, fur-lined boots, mufflers, winter hats with flaps closed, the works.
posted by telstar at 5:35 PM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Okay, but in the Bay Area's defense, the wind can feel really bitterly cold as soon as it drops below 60F. Bundling up is a reasonable defense against having all warmth snatched away as soon as a stiff breeze blows by.

But that reminds me, when I'd return to Berkeley from southern California after winter break, I'd bundled up like I was in the Arctic, but there were always a bunch of people who seemingly inexplicably were running around in 50-degree wet and cold weather wearing light jackets or even shorts. I realized that those were the students returning from far colder climes, ones with actual snow, so what seemed to me like the depths of miserable winter was to them as a balmy relief.
posted by yasaman at 5:56 PM on November 18, 2014


Today, it was -8 C (17.6 f) in Toronto with a cutting wind.

Oh, yeah- my bike ride to work was a bit frosty.



You know, a part of me has recently been idly wondering what it would be like to live up by the St. Lawrence Seaway. Now I'm maybe thinking that it may not be such a swell idea.


It's cool, though- you can drive your truck on the river.



and be told that our Watertown office was closed because the building was under a snowdrift.


I'm amazed that there's anything left in Watertown that could be buried under a snowdrif.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:58 PM on November 18, 2014


The mountain I get, but how is it that Rhode Island was the last place to freeze in the other 49 states?

Southeastern New England (which includes RI and southeast Mass) is quite mild, on average, this time of year compared to locations at the same latitude away from the ocean--like the Midwest. We have ocean to our south and ocean to our east, and the ocean is still relatively warm at this time (50's) compared to the temperature of these cold air masses originating in Canada and moving east from the Midwest. Fall weather can often linger deep into December in SE New England, but spring is delayed because it takes time to warm that ocean up after it has given off so much heat all winter.

As far as Buffalo is concerned, the official snowfall, as recorded at the airport which is located NE of the city, has only been about 3 inches in this event. The areas just south of downtown, like Lackawanna get MUCH more lake effect snow than downtown because of the orientation of Lake Erie relative to the prevailing wind direction. Lake Erie is oriented SW-NE, and is fairly narrow. Buffalo sits at the NE corner of the lake. So for downtown and the airport to get dumped on, the wind needs to be from the SW, right off the lake. While that does occur from time to time, it is more common for cold air masses to move in on west or NW winds. In those cases, the wind in downtown Buffalo isn't coming right in off the lake. Instead, that wind comes over the Niagara Peninsula--sort of downwind from Hamilton Ontario. This greatly reduces the amount of lake effect snow Downtown. But those same west or NW winds are coming right over the lake for areas just south of Buffalo--and they get hammered. Syracuse, on the other hand, is SE of Lake Ontario. So a NW wind in Syracuse comes right over the lake. It is for this reason that Syracuse has a higher average seasonal snowfall (120 inches) than Buffalo (94 inches), even though Buffalo gets more press.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 6:16 PM on November 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


That's about the time the beanies and down vests start showing up.

Tuques. TUQUES! At the very least call them "watch caps" or knitted hats or whatever.

A beanie is the kind of hat Mike Myers is wearing (incongruously) in this episode of King of Kensington. I didn't suffer three years of Cubs in one of those (not to mention a tight, itchy shirt) just to hear winterless Californians bandying about COMPLETELY WRONG regionalisms willy-nilly!

*awaits British questions about "down vests"*
posted by Sys Rq at 6:24 PM on November 18, 2014 [7 favorites]


People will often say to me, when I grump about Ontario winters, "oh, you're from Newfoundland, you must be used to the cold!" In ordinary circumstances I will grumble at them that, temperature-wise, St. John's actually has a mild winter by Canadian standards

Right? Corner Brook, on the west coast (of NL) has an average of -5. That's nothing! On the other hand, we got an average yearly snowfall of just under 5m (16 feet). That is something.

I am happy to be down in Toronto this year from Timmins. It's so nice and warm! I've put my hat on and am debating whether I need to put my jacket liner in. Definitely don't need the winter jacket yet.
posted by Lemurrhea at 6:46 PM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Goddammit, you guys, I live in Alaska and last week it warmed up to 40+ degrees and we lost all the snow and we couldn't even ice skate again until yesterday because it all broke up and we are all sitting down every night and shedding tears over the shiny clean new x-country skis we got for the winter and can't use yet and it is just all SO SAD please send us some some of your snows we'll be good this time we won't let it melt please please we needs it.
posted by charmedimsure at 7:09 PM on November 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


All that money I dumped into restoring my steam heating system over the summer is looking like money well spent this week. I haven't been this cozy in years.
posted by TrialByMedia at 7:16 PM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah. It's winter. Get a scarf.

Oh, thank Christ, because I had never thought of that before.
posted by Kitteh at 7:16 PM on November 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


I just came in from grilling some chicken for tomorrow night's dinner. Here in Rhode Island, it's 23F, and I had to pound the grill cart with my fist to break enough ice to open the lid.

Luckily, this bit of ex-pat Minnesotan chest-beating made me mind the cold a little less.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:30 PM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


...but how is it that Rhode Island was the last place to freeze in the other 49 states?

It's like the opposite of the lake effect: it never gets so very cold here in winter. And ignore the locals, they don't know from cold. Wimps.

(Just cut them off if they start to talk about hurricanes: bad hurricanes happen every few years, but Real Winter is months long and it snows over and over and over.)
posted by wenestvedt at 7:37 PM on November 18, 2014


And ignore the locals, they don't know from cold. Wimps.

Seriously correct wenestvedt....here are the hard cold facts:

Minneapolis so far this November: Avg daily high = 35.9, Avg daily low = 23.1

Providence so far this November: Avg daily high = 53.2, Avg daily low = 35.7
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 7:43 PM on November 18, 2014


I'm one of those people -- the ones who actually like snow and cold weather. I particularly like sub-freezing weather where I live now, because it makes a really nice (and bright) change from unrelenting wind-driven barely-above-freezing-temperature rain, which is the other traditional option this time of year.

But one of the things I like most is to walk through the forest and check out the amazing frost formations you get when you get sub-freezing temperatures in a temperate rainforest. Here is an example I spotted while walking in the woods on Sunday. Visualize passing through a silent pocket of forest where most surfaces are outlined in feathery white crystals inches long, and you can get an idea why I look forward to it.
posted by Nerd of the North at 7:55 PM on November 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


Yeah. It's winter. Get a scarf.

Oh, thank Christ, because I had never thought of that before.


Well, I mean, I'm sorry to be curt, but if you're freaking out about the weather on the north side of Lake Ontario in mid-November, you are in dire need of counsel re: dressing for it. Seriously, get ready, 'cause it gets way, way, way worse than this.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:02 PM on November 18, 2014


Highly recommended.
posted by Jacqueline at 8:40 PM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


I live in Alaska and last week it warmed up to 40+ degrees and we lost all the snow and we couldn't even ice skate again until yesterday

I'm with you. I mean, sure, I'll admit that five or six feet of snow all at once would be pretty inconvenient. But would it kill the storm to shift a little bit north, just a little bit, and dump a foot or 18" on us so the vallhunds can go berserk in it and we can have a good Snow Walk? Is that really so much to ask?

One thing I love about Buffalo, having lived in FL and TX and NC, is the relative wussiness of natural disasters here -- no hurricanes to speak of, tornadoes exist but are few and far between, no significant earthquakes, no recurrent wildfires, not much in the way of droughts, just... inconvenient amounts of snow.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:22 PM on November 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


It's also notable that lake effect precipitation contains very little actual moisture, and melts down quickly once temperatures shift.

Can you explain this? Surely snow is 100% moisture by definition?
posted by kersplunk at 2:51 AM on November 19, 2014


Snow comes in a variety of densities, kersplunk, and involves crystal structure and density. Sometimes it's wet and heavy and clumpy--usually when temps are close to freezing. Inuit peoples have many names for snow because no one word can adequately describe its various forms.

By contrast, lake effect snow, which usually happens in colder conditions, tends to be light, fluffy stuff with plenty of air between the needle-like crystals. It's notoriously easy to blow around and tends to drift rather than pack. When things warm up this weekend, those huge piles will sink down shockingly. The weather people have repeatedly described the current fall as 1:12, meaning that 12 inches of snow will melt to one inch of water.

We see few snowmen in these parts since the snows we get are usually like this--dry, fluffy crystals that do not stick to each other. Instead, the crystals can mesh together to create astounding, gravity-defying overhangs and drift forms that collapse fairly easily. It's utterly different from "snowball" snow.

Running a snowblower through lake effect snow is a walk in the park, although it tends to whip back into one's face brutally. By contrast, blowing out a driveway full of heavy, wet, late-season snow is a chute-clogging nightmare.
posted by kinnakeet at 3:06 AM on November 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


Too much density there. Sorry 'bout that.
posted by kinnakeet at 3:14 AM on November 19, 2014


Skiers too have many words for different snows!
posted by winna at 5:44 AM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Southeastern New England (which includes RI and southeast Mass) is quite mild, on average, this time of year compared to locations at the same latitude away from the ocean--like the Midwest. We have ocean to our south and ocean to our east, and the ocean is still relatively warm at this time (50's) compared to the temperature of these cold air masses originating in Canada and moving east from the Midwest. Fall weather can often linger deep into December in SE New England, but spring is delayed because it takes time to warm that ocean up after it has given off so much heat all winter.
NYC is the same. Right now while it is 25 F in NYC, it is 23F in Philly and 24F in frigid Washington DC. If you notice it is almost always warmer in NYC than Philadelphia in the winter (granted by no more than a degree or two) and while DC is a good 6F milder during the daytime, nightime lows in January are about the same. True fun fact!

Locals know the caveat in winter weather forecasting (Much colder north and west) the oceanic mildness dips away VERY rapidly. And yeah, like Rhode Island, spring is late in the Big Apple.
posted by xetere at 6:09 AM on November 19, 2014


Tuques. TUQUES! At the very least call them "watch caps" or knitted hats or whatever.

In the South, we call them toboggans, which seems to be the choice that drives people the most crazy. Sometimes I go out of my way to call them that in front of my Yankee wife, "pass me that toboggan, it's cold outside" I'll say. Sometimes I drawl out the first syllable more than necessary, too, "toe-boggan" I'll say. Drives her crazy.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:20 AM on November 19, 2014 [4 favorites]



What is this winter you are talking about? 65 degrees is merely fall. (Sorry, I can't get over how people in South Florida consider this uncomfortably cold even with a jacket on)

That's all right. We can't get over how you crazy yankees are walking around here in 65 degree weather with shorts on.
posted by notreally at 6:33 AM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


In the South, we call them toboggans, which seems to be the choice that drives people the most crazy. Sometimes I go out of my way to call them that in front of my Yankee wife, "pass me that toboggan, it's cold outside" I'll say. Sometimes I drawl out the first syllable more than necessary, too, "toe-boggan" I'll say. Drives her crazy.

I am not a Yankee and you are a terrible person.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 6:35 AM on November 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


To live in the East is to fail a genetic intelligence test. This winter I traveled from San Diego to Buffalo and told the shivering natives, "Buffalo is an intelligence test you have failed. So you have to stay here and repeat Buffalo 1A."
- Timothy Leary

Just kidding. My complete respect for any human who can deal with six feet of snow. This WBEN aerial photo is the top rated post in reddit.com/r/weather at the moment. This 16 hour loop gif is better.
posted by bukvich at 6:46 AM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


And here is a 31 hour loop. This is actually kind of terrifying.
posted by bukvich at 6:50 AM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


In the South, we call them toboggans, which seems to be the choice that drives people the most crazy. Sometimes I go out of my way to call them that in front of my Yankee wife, "pass me that toboggan, it's cold outside" I'll say. Sometimes I drawl out the first syllable more than necessary, too, "toe-boggan" I'll say. Drives her crazy.

Meh. I'd mostly just think you're an idiot who doesn't know a hat from a sled.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:25 AM on November 19, 2014 [12 favorites]


The band shifted north early this morning, in our north Buffalo suburb, I didn't even have to brush off my car when I left for work at 6:30, and we had three inches on the ground before 8. Bizarre. And there is more coming tonight and tomorrow they say. Five people have died in this storm already, including a guy in his 40's found dead in his stranded car.
posted by biscotti at 7:51 AM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


All that winter stuff is strange and foreign to us Southerners. It probably started as "tobogganing hat" and got shortened. We never use sleds to speak of; the last ice/snowblast we had when I was a kid, my mom let me use an old washtub to slide down the driveway. Cardboard is also popular, and Rubbermaid tub lids.

I figure misusing "toboggan" makes up for the horrible things northerners do to words like "quesadilla."
posted by emjaybee at 8:00 AM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


... whereas over here in Mumbai, when it gets down to the low 20s (Celsius, that is) people start complaining of the cold and putting on scarves and woolly hats.

One of my colleagues moved from here to Montreal last February. I cannot imagine what the must have felt like for him.
posted by 43rdAnd9th at 8:14 AM on November 19, 2014


My first winter in Canada was an eye-opener for this Southerner. I still hate it but I live here so I live with it. I will never get the sheer joy that Canadians get for outdoor winter activities, though. I mean, go on with your bad self but I am staying indoors where it is warm and there is tea.
posted by Kitteh at 8:17 AM on November 19, 2014


It's the type of cap you wear when you ride toboggans. Sheesh. Can we try to respect regionalisms? I don't make fun of youse all when yiz fail to use a plural for of you when addressing a group, which none of y'all seem to do.
posted by maxsparber at 8:24 AM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


So it's all cold and shit in Atlanta, which has us all bringing out our, "Where were YOU in snowpocalypse stories."

We're experiencing PTSD about that. Also, I've been worried about the Niagara University Women's Basketball team. Glad the ladies have been rescued. This shit ain't funny.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:30 AM on November 19, 2014


As a former Atlantan, that shit was unreal for back home last year.
posted by Kitteh at 8:37 AM on November 19, 2014


Ruthless Bunny: "So it's all cold and shit in Atlanta"

I can assure you that is not, in any way, cold in Atlanta.

And I'm only in the Chicago area so even I have it "easy." The wind the last couple of days was the most brutal part. Although, I think I'm becoming accustomed to this godforsaken cold hell since it's been here so long.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 8:46 AM on November 19, 2014


To live in the East is to fail a genetic intelligence test.
- Timothy Leary


God, Timothy Leary was a dick.

Re: the term for a winter headcover - Some colleagues were spending an inordinate amount of money on a special event. One of them wanted beanies as a giveaway. I kept envisioning something you'd see in Little Rascals movies and/or what certain clergy wear. I had no idea how either would be appealing to young people.

But yes, I guess that is a name now for the hats I simply call a tight knit cap, or (having learned this from SCTV) a toque/tuque. (Perhaps the appellation came from L.L.Bean?)
posted by NorthernLite at 9:00 AM on November 19, 2014


I thought it was kind of wild that they held the hockey game yesterday, but the Sabres had only one player snowbound and the Sharks were already in Buffalo in a hotel near the arena (the anthem singer couldn't make it, though!). The Bills play in Orchard Park, which was hit pretty hard (it's between Hamburg and East Aurora on bukvich's radar video). There's already talk of delaying the game scheduled for Sunday. In other post-snowfall games they've paid locals to come shovel snow but that's when the stadium looks like this. Today, it looks like this.
posted by troika at 9:22 AM on November 19, 2014


Also, on the WBEN aerial photo bukvich linked, you can see the part of the harbor that's shaped like a buffalo! As much as you can make a harbor shaped like a buffalo, anyway. Bottom right corner.
posted by troika at 9:28 AM on November 19, 2014


One thing I love about Buffalo, having lived in FL and TX and NC, is the relative wussiness of natural disasters here -- no hurricanes to speak of, tornadoes exist but are few and far between, no significant earthquakes, no recurrent wildfires, not much in the way of droughts, just... inconvenient amounts of snow.

Yeah, my folks grew up in Buffalo, but now live in Houston. When everyone in Houston freaked out about Hurricane Rita, they had to make the decision to evacuate or stay home. The problem was my folks were right in the path of the storm, and were looking at a possibility of broken windows (huge floor to ceiling windows, no way to board up on short notice), rain pouring in, and no electricity for a LONG time. They ended up trying to drive to my cousin's place in Dallas and got stuck in the 6+hour traffic jam; and Rita shifted direction and my parents' house was fine. The one thing I'll always remember about that was my dad saying how much he missed Buffalo and blizzards, because at least with blizzards there was none of this "stay or evacuate" stressful decision making bullshit. You stay where you are and wait. Easy. This is not to trivialize the deaths in Buffalo or how terrifying it would be to get stranded in your car, watching it slowly get drifted over, and not knowing what to do. Believe me.
posted by misskaz at 10:53 AM on November 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


How about from now on instead of saying snowing we say unshovelling. "It unshovelled softly all afternoon." "High in the mountains it was unshovelling heavily."
posted by oulipian at 12:48 PM on November 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


"Stopping by Woods on an Unshovelly Evening"
posted by oulipian at 12:48 PM on November 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


It's worth adding that thirteen people died as a result of the storm. Two died stuck in cars after calling multiple sources for help.
posted by bitterpants at 7:25 AM on November 26, 2014


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