Buffalo snowstorm – could it happen in New Hampshire?

For those of us who dread winter, the news last week from western New York seemed particularly dire.

Twenty-five tons of snow fell on a typical driveway in Buffalo, N.Y, during a storm that nearly buried some houses, left a basketball team stuck on a bus for 24 hours and broke all records in a city that typically has huge snowstorms.

Does that storm predict anything for us in northern New England?

Probably not, said National Weather Service meteorologist Michael Cempa at his office in Gray, Maine.

That area of New York State has localized weather brought on by the Great Lakes, he said, and although the storm was extreme, its cause was the typical lake-effect that happens when very cold air comes in contact with a very warm, large lake.

When cold air comes over the lake later in the year when the water had cooled down the effect is diminished.

“It is extreme for a lake-effect storm,” he said.

And what about the unusually cold weather across the country last week that caused overnight temperatures mid-week to fall to freezing or below freezing?

No, again, said Cempa, although he thinks that might be the earliest that has ever happened.

According to an Oct. 16 posting from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’ Climate Prediction Center, a repeat of last winter’s cold, snowy weather is unlikely, and above-average temperatures are most likely for New England and for western U.S., Alaska and Hawaii.

For what its worth, the 2015 Old Farmers Almanac predicts this winter in New England will be cold, but with below-normal snowfall.

Climate change is said to show itself in extreme weather, but Cempa said no single weather event can be thought of as signaling global warming.

“Climate is long term,” he said. “You have to see a pattern.”

We may think of New Hampshire and New England as having cold weather, but it’s not as cold as it could be, according to Cempa, because the coldest air, that comes down through the Great Plains warms up as it comes our way.

And for those who pay attention to where weather warning notices are coming from, the National Weather Service office in Gray, Maine will be taking over the forecasting and warning response for New Hampshire’s Hillsborough and Cheshire counties next week – on Dec. 3. The forecasting is now being done by the weather service’s Boston office.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at kcleveland@cabinet.com or 673-3100, ext. 304.