9 Reasons Buffalo Is the Toughest Snowy City in America

Oh, Buffalo. We feel for you. You’ve been getting hammered by awful weather this winter, and Winter Storm Vulcan is just piling on more. But cheer up! You get major bragging rights for dealing with it all. To celebrate your tough-as-nails nature and to help you get through the latest batch of snow, here are nine reasons we think you rate as the toughest snowy city in America:

1. It Has to Deal With the Lake Effect.

Because of where Buffalo is perched with relation to the Great Lakes — on the eastern end of Lake Erie and below Lake Ontario — a good deal of its weather comes from what’s called “the lake effect.” The upside is that when it’s disgustingly hot during the summer, the lake effect helps keep things a little cooler — but in the winter, cold winds moving along warmer lake water results in the pickup and freezing of excess water vapor, creating a heck of a lot of nasty snow squalls while it’s at it. Such is life in a snowbelt.

2. Its Coldest Recorded Temperature Is Freakin’ Freezing…

Or rather, it’s way below freezing: Buffalo’s coldest temperature on record is -20 F, which has happened twice in the city’s history, on February 9, 1934, and on February 2, 1961. Granted, it’s been a while since it’s gotten that cold up there, but still. 

Yeah, that about covers it.

3. …But It Also Suffers from Roller Coaster Temperatures.

We’ve been experiencing a little bit of that here in NYC — it was 55 degrees over the weekend, and now it’s back in the high 20s/low 30s again — but not to the extent Buffalo has. They’re in the teens up there with a wind chill of zero right now, and they usually go through a whole bunch of thaws and freezes every winter. Blech.

4. Its Winters Are Unpleasantly Long.

Winters in western New York usually run from mid-November to mid-March, but they can start much earlier and end much later if the conditions are right. Brrrrr.

5. It Survived the Blizzard of 1977…

On January 28, 1977, a deadly blizzard hit western and upstate New York, as well as Southern Ontario. Snowfall was as high as 100 inches (!!!) in some areas, which absurdly high winds (up to 69 MPH!) then blew into drifts 30 to 40 feet high. 23 deaths were reported in western NY, 11 of which were in the city of Buffalo. Some of the snow stuck around until May. May. That’s more than three months of snow from the same damn storm.

6. …And Lake Storm Aphid.

Lake Storm Aphid was a special beast that hit Buffalo and the surrounding area in October of 2006. It’s unusual for lake effect storms to arrive that early in the year, but that year, it did — and it left a boatload of destruction in its wake. It was also an example of an extremely rare phenomenon called “thundersnow,” which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: A thunderstorm, but with snow instead of rain. Sounds terrifying.

7. It Has Already Racked Up Over 120 Inches of Snow This Season.

According to data collected by the Golden Snowball competition, the usual average snowfall in Buffalo at this time in the year is only about 85 inches. Last year it only had 53 inches by mid-March, and the average total amount of snow is only about 95 inches. Those are pretty wide margins, comparatively speaking — and it’s about to knock Syracuse out of the top slot for the Golden Snowball award, to boot.

8. This Is What It Looks Like Up There Right Now…

Those icicles look like they could kill you if they fell on top of you. Yikes!

9. And This Is What It Looks Like Up There at Niagara Falls Right Now:

And amazingly, people are still doing the tourist thing there. I believe the words “f-ing” and “majestic” apply.

Images: andynash/Flickr, grush/Flickr, chadcooperphotos/Flickr

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