Seasonal Temperature Lag

February 5th, 2011 at 8:46 pm by under 4 Warn Weather

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Q: December 21st is the beginning of winter, and the shortest day of the year. Why are the 60 days following this day so much colder than the 60 days preceding this day?

A: This is known as seasonal temperature lag.  When winter begins the amount of incoming solar radiation is at a minimum, and for the start of summer (late June) at a maximum.  Yet coldest temperatures occur in January and warmest temperatures occur in August.

In Buffalo, temperatures begin to improve during February.  The average coldest high temp is 31 with the average low temp of 17 (occurring in January/early February).  This is because it takes awhile for the atmosphere, or most things for that matter, to cool down and warm up.

The Earth’s bodies of water assist this lag.  Oceans take up 70% of the Earth’s surface.  With a heat capacity three times that of land they can’t just warm up and cool down immediately, they take time.  Think of a swimming pool versus a sidewalk.  The sun hits both all day long but the sidewalk generally gets much hotter. However, by late summer your swimming pool is generally much warmer than at the start of the season.  In WNY, many watch for the lake to freeze.  Even though winter begins in December, it isn’t generally until mid-January when we start to see significant freezing; seasonal temperature lag!

On another note, this is why hurricane season lasts so long, into autumn!  The oceans continue to warm once we pass the start of summer.  Warm water is a key ingredient to these massive storms.

Super Bowl XXVIII Was My Favorite

February 4th, 2011 at 8:49 pm by under Jacquie Walker's Newsroom Notebook

Heading into Super Bowl weekend, I have a pretty good idea what fans can look forward to in Dallas (right down to the cold weather!). I am the only television news (not sports) reporter from Buffalo to have covered all four of the Bills’ Super Bowl appearances. I wasn’t there to cover the game, I was there to follow the fans and report on their Super Bowl experiences. Tampa, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Atlanta: each Super Bowl city presented its own charms, challenges, and memories. For me, Atlanta was the big winner.

The legendary Voice of the Bills, Van Miller, and sportscaster Chuck Howard joined me in a hotel lobby each day for our live reports from Super Bowl XXVIII in Atlanta.

Most of the Super Bowl events were centrally located in downtown Atlanta and walkable! The weather was reasonable, the people were friendly, and the logistics were easy to manage. We found numerous Buffalo connections in the host city, right down to the chef at the Georgia Dome. All the ingredients were there for News 4’s winning coverage of the Bills’ historic fourth consecutive Super Bowl appearance. As you know, the only thing we were missing in the end was the victory!

Lake Erie Ice Cover Map From 2/4/11

February 4th, 2011 at 11:01 am by under 4 Warn Weather

Here is the latest ice cover map of Lake Erie.  The extent of ice cover will reduce the potential for lake effect snow in the days to come, but there can be some factors that can contribute to lake effect snowfall even with the lake being extensively ice covered.  Most notably are sublimation, the process in which water changes state from gas to solid, but also applies to the change from solid to gas (without going through a liquid phase and something called frictional convergence at the eastern end of the lake.  Terrain can also be a big factor in areas to the south of the city.  That aside, there is a difference between the total available moisture input available on a wide open versus an almost ice covered lake.   A couple later season lake effect snow events have been cited in an excellent paper published by researchers at SUNY Albany.

After a Record 1014 posts in 2 days, Time for a New Thread

February 2nd, 2011 at 10:51 pm by under 4 Warn Weather

Now that we’re nearly entirely done with our semi-storm (just under 7″ officially at the NWS; biggest single snowfall of the season there, so far), we will catch a dry break for 2 days. By Saturday, a threat of snow reappears, but it appears to be a minor one. Temperatures will moderate a little over the weekend, but another sharply colder surge of arctic air looks slated to arrive during Tuesday, probably preceded by some modest snow on Monday. This surge will be a Deep Freeze surge. While the pattern may relax a little the following week, there are still no signs of a fundamental pattern change which would boost our temperatures to above normal for any extended period–if at all–during the next 16 days.

Make room for Pegula’s White Horse

February 1st, 2011 at 11:04 pm by under 4 Warn Weather

So Terry Pegula’s white horse is saddled up, ready to ride into Buffalo in the next few weeks.  The Sabres Savior has yet to utter a public peep about his plans for the hockey team, but Buffalo’s championship-starved fans have already embraced the Pennsylvania billionaire.

And who can blame them.  The Sabres franchise is in desperate need of fresh air, and a fresh infusion of cash.  Moreover, the hockey club needs a commitment to championship play right from the top of the organization.

Tom Golisano deserves our thanks and our appreciation for saving the Sabres from bankruptcy, and putting an iron-clad commitment to Buffalo in place.  He and his management team have made the Sabres a model NHL franchise off the ice; with some of the highest TV ratings in the league.  The Sabres play to about 98-percent capacity at HSBC Arena.  Events like the original Winter Classic, and the World Juniors Tournament last month have solidified Buffalo’s place as one of North America’s capitals of hockey.

But the Sabres will certainly  benefit from Pegula’s reported passion for the game and his determination to win.

As successful as he’s been in the business world, it will be interesting to see how this newly minted billionaire handles the business of professional sports.    With all the excitement and exuberance surrounding his takeover of the team, it’s still hard to imagine that he will throw open his checkbook and start spending wildly.  What’s more likely, is that he’ll take some time to examine how the Sabres hockey department works and how much bang they’ve been getting for their buck.

Which brings us to Darcy Regier.  He may be the whipping boy for frustrated Sabres fans, but make no mistake about it–for the last 14-years, Regier has been simply carrying out the orders of team owners–whether it’s the Rigases, or Golisano.  

Regier has been overly patient, extremely cautious, and not very active in trades or free agency.   But he hasn’t been bad.

He’s operated with a skeleton scouting staff, supplemented by inexpensive video scouting.  He’s been undermined by bad decisions on key players like Danny Briere and Chris Drury, and painted into a corner by the Thomas Vanek contract.  But he’s made the best of a sometimes bad situation.  And he’s kept the Sabres competitive for the most part, even excellent from time to time.

So when Pegula’s white horse rides into town in a couple of weeks, here’s hoping he spends some time truly evaluating the Sabres on-ice product–where they’ve been, and where they might be headed. 

They’re certainly not championship caliber–not even close.  But with Regier’s reasoned judgement, with a commitment to smart spending at the trade deadline and in free agency, and with a beefed-up scouting staff, Pegula just might have the makings of a pretty good hockey club already.

First Widespread Winter Storm of the Season is On Its Way

January 31st, 2011 at 3:01 pm by under 4 Warn Weather

The storm we began advertising as “one to watch” back on Thursday and Friday is still on track to deliver a heavy snowfall and gusty winds to our region. A preliminary light snow will develop toward Tuesday AM, with 2-3″ more snow on Tuesday, keeping roads slippery. But the Main Event will come much later Tuesday night into Wednesday AM. After midnight Tuesday night, widespread snow will overspread our region and become heavy at times long before dawn. This storm will be complicated by a strengthening NE wind producing considerable blowing and drifting snow by and during Wednesday, making for very hazardous travel. Most areas will receive at least 8″ of snow by mid morning Wednesday, and possibly a good deal more than that–depending on the exact track of the storm. If the track gets nudged a little further north, there could be a period of sleet or freezing rain in northern PA and possibly into parts of the s tier, and even a drying period for a few hours (with a “dry slot” of air coming around the bottom of the storm), and if gets nudged a little further south, it would be all snow for all locations. Amounts can NOT be written in stone at this point. But with probable NE winds of 15-30 (gustiest north of Buffalo), the Wed AM commute looks especially challenging, with snowfall rates decreasing to moderate by midday and for the afternoon.  Of course, the meteorologists of WeatherWatch 4 will keep you updated before and during the storm’s passage.

CASH Buffalo

January 29th, 2011 at 5:05 pm by under 4 Warn Weather

Low-income families are getting a hand preparing their annual tax forms.

A United Way program called “CASH” offers free tax form preparation to individuals and families earning less than 50-thousand dollars a year.

A Personal Observation on this 25th Anniversary of the Challenger Disaster

January 28th, 2011 at 9:21 pm by under Jacquie Walker's Newsroom Notebook

The ‘teacher in space’ and ‘journalist in space’ programs were cancelled by NASA after the Challenger explosion.

I’m always especially sad to note the anniversary of the Challenger explosion. At the same time NASA was preparing to send America’s first teacher into space, I was working as a news anchor and reporter here at WIVB-TV and navigating the rigorous application process to become the first journalist in space. There were long forms, essays, and letters of recommendation required – prompting a real process of self-examination. Why did I want to become the first journalist in space?

As it turns out, the applications were divided into geographic regions of the country and my application wound up in competition with all the network news reporters and anchors based in New York City. I never would have been picked. But I had the very real desire to learn, train, launch, explore, and share my discoveries with planet Earth. Christa McAuliffe surely felt the same way. God bless her and those who died with her twenty-five years ago today. They leave us richer for their willingness to reach higher, look outward, and, ultimately, sacrifice all for the good of humankind around the globe.

Extraordinary Measures to Cover the Muzzammil Hassan Trial

January 27th, 2011 at 8:43 pm by under Jacquie Walker's Newsroom Notebook

I hope you are following Lorey Schultz’s blog posts sent from the courtroom during the Muzzammil Hassan murder trial. Because cameras have been barred from the courtroom for most of the trial, but laptops and cellphones are permitted, News 4 has been able to provide detailed coverage of what’s being said and done during this unprecedented case. Technology has changed everything for this type of trial coverage – there has never been a trial before in Western New York presented by so many news organizations in this way.

News Four’s Lorey Schultz uses props to show how she is blogging from her chair in the courtroom each day.

I can’t give you all the technical details of how this information is conveyed from Lorey’s vantage point in the courtroom to your home TV and computer screen, but I did ask Lorey to show me how it works for her. She says she has to balance her computer laptop on her lap, her cell phone and wireless card on one arm of her chair, and her notebook and pen on the other arm. She also has to wear her reading glasses on her nose so she can look up and down over them from her laptop to the action in front of the room. She remains in this cramped position for most of the day and she is surrounded by reporters who are delicately balancing their technical gear in the same manner. Lorey says if anybody happens to accidentally knock something off an armrest – the mishap cascades down the row of reporters like falling dominoes!

Lorey is sending out dozens of blog posts from the courtroom each day. Follow the coverage from this hard-working reporter on

Super Bowl 25 reflections

January 27th, 2011 at 4:39 pm by under 4 Warn Weather

It was twenty years ago today–and Buffalo sports fans are reminiscing  about where they were for Super Bowl XXV–the Bills first appearance in the big game.  I had the privilege of covering the game, sitting in the auxiliary press area at Tampa Stadium.  And I have vivid memories of that day and that game.

 I remember Whitney Houston’s version of the national anthem with its unusual time signature and the military fly over right before kickoff. 

I’m haunted by Bruce Smith’s safety in the second quarter–how close he came to stripping the ball from Jeff Hostetler and maybe scoring a Buffalo touchdown.  The game, and maybe the history of the Bills, might have been changed forever.

I remember the Giants inexorable nine minute drive in the third quarter when they took the lead.  Fourteen plays, including Mark Ingram’s tackle breaking first down catch on third and 13. 

And of course, I remember watching from the media staging area outside the Buffalo locker room as Scott Norwood’s kick sailed wide right.  We watched him miss on TV monitors and we immediately started getting ready to go to work getting postgame reaction in the locker room. 

I’ll always remember talking to Norwood on live TV, with tears in his eyes, as he quietly, calmly, mechanically explained what went wrong on the kick.  “I just pushed it right” he said, over and over.  And during the live interview we were interrupted by Ralph Wilson who told him it wasn’t his fault.

Today is the anniversary but it was the next day, the day after Super Bowl XXV, that I still consider the greatest day in Buffalo Sports history.   That was the day thousands gathered to salute the Super Bowl losers in Niagara Square and absolve Scott Norwood.  An amazing act of civic forgiveness revealing the true heart and soul of Buffalo sports fans.  And I still believe, twenty years later, that heart, that soul, that passion will someday  be rewarded with a championship.