Dec 21, 2015 – Buffalo is known for its snow and harsh winter weather, but this year has been an exception due to El Niño, a periodic warming of the eastern Pacific Ocean that is causing abnormal temperature conditions throughout the country. As a result, winter in Buffalo and Niagara Falls, NY has been nearly nonexistent so far this year.
Latest snow ever for Buffalo
Due to El Niño, Buffalo, Niagara Falls and most of the Northeast have experienced above-average temperatures and very little snowfall so far this winter.
In fact, Buffalo broke a 116-year-old record this year for its lack of snow so late into the season.
The latest the city had ever made it into December without measurable snowfall was Dec. 3, back in 1899. This year, Buffalo didn’t receive a trace of snow until Dec. 19–and even then, just one-tenth of an inch was recorded at Buffalo Niagara International Airport.
By this time during the average season, Buffalo would have recorded about 22 inches of snow so far, according to Weather.com.
And thanks to a huge November snowstorm last winter, Buffalo had already received 30 inches by this time–and over 7 feet in some nearby suburbs.
Buffalo’s record-breaking winter temperatures
The lack of snowfall is in large part due to the record warmth caused by El Niño. Buffalo’s average December high is 32 degrees, while this month the average has been 44 degrees, according to WGRZ.
In fact, on Dec. 14, just four days before receiving its first snowfall, the city reached 71 degrees–the highest temperature that has ever been recorded in Buffalo this late in the year, smashing the previous record of 64 degrees set in 1901. Niagara Falls, NY also broke a record, reaching 72 degrees that day.
And this warmer weather is expected to continue through Christmas and the end of the month, leaving Buffalo and Niagara Falls with almost no chance of a White Christmas.
According to Weather.com, the high temperature for Buffalo on Christmas Day is expected to be about 48 degrees, with a low of 39. Partly sunny skies are expected with a 0% chance of precipitation.
Likewise, the forecast for Niagara Falls has the city reaching a high of 45 and a low of 39 with no precipitation on Dec. 25.
Most years, Buffalo has a 47 percent chance of having a White Christmas, thanks to lake effect snow from Lake Erie, which generated by cold dry air passing over warmer waters.
Warm weather expected to continue through winter
According to weather experts, this year’s El Niño is considered to be strong and may continue to strengthen over the the next couple of months.
In other years that had a strong El Niño, most recently the winter of 1997-98, temperatures averaged above normal, including about 6 and 8 degrees warmer than average in January and February 1998, according to weather service data.
There was also only 75.6 inches of snowfall that winter – about 20 inches less than an average winter, and about 37 inches less than the winter of 2014-15.
While the presence of El Niño doesn’t guarantee that Buffalo will stay warm and experience little snow the whole winter, experts say that cold and snowy days will likely be much less frequent than usual.
After being hit with one of the coldest winters on record last year, many people in Buffalo and Niagara Falls are feeling relieved that the city will likely experience a much milder winter season, although those who look forward to snow activities may be disappointed.
Luckily, whether there’s snow or not, there are still ways to enjoy the winter here in Buffalo–and warmer temperatures will help make outdoor activities like ice skating and ice biking at Canalside much more pleasant.
Are you happy about Buffalo’s warmer winter? How much snow do you think the city will get this year? Let us know in the comments below.