Buffalo Climate Change Study

11:11 AM, Nov 10, 2013   |    comments
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Buffalo, NY -- Rain and warm temperatures overall describe the past 6 months.

The summer was wet with above normal rainfall by 3.4". It was the 9th wettest summer on record. Temperatures were slightly on the warm side.

This trend has continued into fall with even warmer temperatures and above average rainfall.

So are we seeing more rain and feeling warmer temperatures over the years for summer and fall? A climate change study for Buffalo, conducted by Channel 2's Meteorologist Jennifer Stanonis, does show there's some truth to that.

Looking at summer temperatures since 1943, they have increased by nearly 1 degree F over the past 70 years. This matters because warmer air can hold more moisture and therefore can produce more rain. Overall, summer rainfall has increased, by only 0.5". But in June specifically, rain has increased by nearly 1.5".

As for Fall, temperatures are actually decreasing for October by 2 degrees. Fall rain however has increased by 0.9" for the season. September saw an increase of 1.1" of rain and October an increase of 1.4".

In terms of snow, it's decreasing for fall by 3.8" for the season. November is also seeing a decrease of 9.0" of snow.

However, snowfall is increasing for October by 1.0" since 1943, which is partly due to the 2006 October storm that dumped two feet of snow on and around the Buffalo area. If the October storm is taken out of the equation there wouldn't be much of a change.

This study used a meteorological summer (months of June, July and August). It also used a meteorological fall (months of September, October and November). A three year moving average was used on the raw temperature and precipitation data. Linear regression tests were then run on the moving average data to show if any possible climate trends were statistically significant.

Currently, Jennifer Stanonis is working on another climate study, how precipitation and temperatures are changing for spring in Buffalo. Expect that story in March.

Jennifer released her findings from her winter climate study last winter. Those results and story are below.

It's something we hear often, that these are the warmest winters we can remember and there's less snowfall. It's not hard to believe when last winter was the fourth warmest on record and was in second place for the least amount of snow on the ground since the 1940s.

But are winter temperatures and snowfall amounts really changing in Buffalo? Channel 2's Jennifer Stanonis spent a couple months analyzing data and running statistical studies.

Looking at winter snowfall data since 1943 there is a slight increase during the 70 year period. When you break down the meteorological winter months into December, January and February, it's December that's seeing an increase in temperatures and snowfall. January and February didn't change.

So one might ask why didn't the area get much snowfall last December or this year so far? Looking at snowfall over the past 70 years the amounts vary greatly year to year. December of 1995 saw 61 inches but the year before only got 7 inches.

So don't worry, there's always next year to make up for the most recent lack of snow.

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