Frigid temperatures take WNY by surprise

By: By Gene Warner
By: By Gene Warner

Talk about great timing.

Buffalo State College hosts the national teach-in on Global Warming Situations today — a day the local temperature bottomed out at minus 6 degrees.

No evidence of global warming here, at least not this morning, when unofficial reports to the National Weather Service listed temperatures as low as 9 degrees below zero elsewhere in Erie County.

"We didn't have temperatures forecast to be quite that cold," weather service meteorologist David Zaff said this morning. "When you have snowpack on the ground and clear skies, temperatures can plummet. It's called radiational cooling."

That cooling phenomenon, under mockingly clear skies, posed a hardship for some morning commuters and some finger-numbing discomfort for others.

"Compared to a normal winter day, our call volume is up about 25 percent, and it's directly related to the cold," said Diana Dibble, public affairs manager for AAA of Western and Central New York.

The most common complaint, of course, was cars that wouldn't start, but the AAA also fielded calls from some early risers who locked their keys in their vehicles while trying to warm up their cars.

The cold, crisp conditions might be welcome news for one weekend event:

The Labatt Blue Pond Hockey Tournament being held Saturday at the Erie Basin Marina.

"It's perfect today," Erie County Parks Commissioner Jim Hornung said. "This is all about thin layers of ice. Our goal is to put two coats of thin water spray on the ice today."

Hornung was concerned, though, about the effect of this morning's frigid temperatures on staff members and about the possibility of frozen hoses and hydrants.

The National Weather Service reported that the low temperature of 6 degrees below zero was recorded at 6 a.m. today. The Feb. 5 record of 12 degrees below zero was not threatened.

The weather service issued a wind-chill advisory, but only until 9 a.m. and only in Erie County.

Temperatures are expected to moderate today and all the way into the weekend, with daytime highs expected to hit 5 to 15 degrees above zero today, the upper 20s Friday and the low to mid 40s on Saturday.

That could threaten the ice conditions for the Labatts tournament, at least on Saturday afternoon, but organizers and county officials are confident that the ice will survive.

"I'm OK with it," Hornung said. "I think we're still going to be pulling this off."

Good thing the tournament's not scheduled for Sunday.


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