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Buffalo's winter labeled moderate despite historic snows

Worst of winter came in November and December for WNY.
Credit: WGRZ

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The winter of 2022-22 had two historic snow events however, according to the Midwestern Regional Climate Center, Buffalo experienced a "moderate" winter.

 How could this be?

In November 2022, an intense lake effect snow event brought some of the greatest 24 hour snow totals in US history to the Buffalo Southtowns, including the towns of Orchard Park and Hamburg.

In December, just over a month later. Buffalo experienced the worst blizzard in US history for any location below 5,000 feet.

Also, this will go down is the 5th snowiest season in Buffalo's recorded history.

However, out of five levels of severity, Buffalo was given a 2 this winter season out of 5 with a 5 being the most severe , and 1 being the mildest.

The Midwestern Regional Climate Center in conjunction with Purdue University in Indiana developed the Accumulated Winter Season Severity Index to quantify and describe the relative severity of a winter season. It is based on the intensity and persistence of cold weather, the amount of snow, and the amount and persistence of snow on the ground in a particular city.

Credit: wgrz

The rankings go from "Extreme", followed by "Severe", "Average", "Moderate" and "Mild". Buffalo was given a "Moderate" distinction for this past winter, which may seem out of place given the fact that we had two extreme winter events. 

However, according to this severity index, persistence is the key word as we all know, this Winter was not known for its persistent cold, or even cold at all.

Temperatures every month this winter averaged above normal and Lake Erie only had 20% ice cover at its peak, and only for a few days. Most of the winter Lake Erie was completely ice free. 

Also, outside of those two historic snow events, not much additional snow fell in Buffalo. Despite having the 5th snowiest winter season on record, 65% or 2/3 of its snow for the season came from those two events.

Lastly, the heavy snow that did accumulate from those two events did not last long and melted quickly. So it makes sense that, despite the severity of those two winter events as a whole, we did have a relatively mild winter, as it was not cold, and the heavy snow that fell did not last long.

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