Harsh Wintry Pattern Still Looks to Be on the Way Out

February 7th, 2011 at 11:32 am by under 4 Warn Weather

For more than 10 days, there have been signs that our harsh wintry pattern will be breaking up next week, at least for a while. The upper level circulation has favored arctic airmasses being steered into the northern plains, the midwest, the Great Lakes and the NE since December. Extended range computer guidance continues on this Monday morning to point to a flattening of that pattern next week. The flow across the northern tier of the lower 48 will take on more of a “zonal flow” from west to east in which the arctic air stays more in its “zone”, to the north, with more temperate, Pacific airmasses crossing the lower 48. There are the usual caveats to this kind of a prediction: The west to east flow can buckle from time to time when vigorous waves in that flow move through, and these can deliver occasional bouts of stormier weather with warmups ahead of each storm system, and cooldowns behind them.

That is, this is not a prediction of an early spring in which day after day features balmy temperatures. It is, however, a prediction that we will see fewer days with highs in teens and twenties with more 30s and, maybe, occasional 40s.

All that aside, after today/Monday, most of this week will again include harsh, wintry temperatures and winds, so you’ll have to grit your teeth a while longer.

Me and Terry

February 7th, 2011 at 10:42 am by under 4 Warn Weather

It’s one of those “you’re never going to believe this” stories.  But it’s true.  I bumped into incoming Sabres owner Terry Pegula Saturday night, in State College, PA.

I was there for the Penn State-Michigan basketball game on Sunday afternoon.  He was there for the Penn State Hockey Alumni Reunion.  That reunion took place Saturday night in the Nittany Lion Inn, the same hotel where I was staying. 

On a hunch, I deliberately passed by the banquet room when the hockey reunion was taking place in the hotel, and yup–there he was, Terry Pegula at the podium.  I lurked around just outside the banquet and watched Pegula’s speech.  Obviously, he was being honored by the Penn State hockey folks for his $88-million dollar commitment to build their new hockey program.  In the course of his speech to the former Penn State club hockey players, he whipped out his cell phone and announced, “Oh, the Sabres beat the Leafs tonight 6-2, and Vanek got his 19th.”  This guy’s paying attention, I thought.

So I waited around until the banquet broke up.  And then I waited a while longer while Pegula accepted the thanks from the Penn State hockey fans and former players.  And then I introduced myself.

We talked at first about his former home in Orchard Park, right around the corner from my current home.  We had a few mutual acquaintances from the neighborhood, and he talked about riding his bike on my street when he lived here in the early 90s.  Then I introduced myself as the sports director at WIVB and the play by play man for the Bills, and I said, “People in Buffalo are really excited about having you take over the team.”

“That’s good,” he said.  “We’re gonna win a Stanley Cup.  And then you know what we’re gonna do?  We’re gonna win another Stanley Cup.”

I mentioned the Sabres victory over the Leafs, and how it seems like  the Sabres own the Leafs lately.

“Yeah, I know,” Pegula said.  “We gotta own a few other teams also, that’s the problem.”

“When is this deal going to happen?” I asked.   “When do you expect to take over?” 

“It’s going to be right about February 22nd,” he said.  That’s about two weeks away.

We continued to talk for about ten minutes, during which he mentioned how he “loves” Lindy Ruff as coach, and how he plans on maintaining his residence in Boca Raton, Florida, because of his teennage daughter’s tennis career.   We talked briefly about the Bills, and I invited him to attend a game in our radio broadcast booth next season.  Somehow, I don’t think he’ll have any problems finding a good seat for a Bills game.

He finally was pulled away by a Penn State fan who wanted to thank him for his interest in the hockey program and his generosity.  I got the feeling he wanted to talk more about Buffalo and the Sabres, but I handed him my business card and we went our separate ways. 

I walked away shaking my head about our accidental meeting.  It wasn’t an interview,  it was a social encounter.  But I left Pegula feeling very excited about the Sabres and their future.

Pegula was friendly, approachable, enthusiastic and very, very down-to-earth during our 15-minute conversation in the crowded hotel ballroom. 

Just like every other billionaire I’ve met over the years.

A Tribute to a truly Dedicated Meteorologist Who Has Served Us All

February 6th, 2011 at 5:01 pm by under 4 Warn Weather

I know I’m going to embarrass our friend Weather Sage with this, but I have to post a few words about my friend upon his retirement. I knew he had a long career with the NWS, but I didn’t know all the details until I read the biographical handout from the retirement dinner Friday night for Dave Sage and Joe Pace. Dave entered the NWS as a Student Trainee in 1970, while studying at Penn State, where he graduated in 1972. Dave served the NWS and all of us for 40 years and 3 months, the last 24 of which as a Lead Forecaster. In his early years, he was also able to get back to Penn State and complete his Masters coursework.

Dave worked 26 straight years without a single Sick Day, when he had to take 4 days off for an illness. After that short hiatus, he completed the rest of his service to the U.S. without another single Sick Day! He came to the Buffalo WSFO in 1975, and accrued 4006 hours of unused Sick Leave. I know everyone at the Office feels he is a truly delightful guy, and Dave will still be visiting them, doing some volunteer work for the NWS in between rounds of golf. He’s blessed with a lovely family and great memories of working with terrific people. Although we’re staying in touch, I’ll miss hearing his voice when I call in for an updated snow total from the airport.

I didn’t get to know Joe Pace (31 years service) as well as I know Dave, but he is also a dedicated and kind soul who plans on golfing lots as well and, he says, sometime getting a gig at a winery. More power to him!

Seasonal Temperature Lag

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

Image From: http://www.solstation.com/stars/earth.htm

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.