10/12/10 – the october surprise storm of 2006, first night


Four years ago this evening I stepped off the bus to home after work – and saw wet flakes of  snow in the light cold rain.  I had never seen it snow, even this scattered wet melty stuff, this early.

Usually not til maybe an anomaly in early November.  Despite Buffalo’s reputation we usually don’t get our first inch of snowfall til sometime in December.

But here is was, a hint of snow and it wasn’t even mid October.  Of course I knew things would swing warmer again before winter settled in slowly, as usual, but it still was miserable.

And the wet big flakes of snow kept coming down, until it replaced all the rain.  It was lake effect snow.  The occasional extra snow that comes sweeping in a narrow band a couple miles wide when cold air draws moisture from the warmer lake and dumps it on the land.  Sometimes in the warm months there can be lake effect rain.  The band usually stays just to the southern edge of the city, and moves lower.  The thick gray clouds will look like a mountain range on the southern horizon.  Ski resorts are in the hills about 40 miles south.

The snow, like this, and where it was, was not predicted at all by any meteorologist.

About 3 that morning I woke.  To total darkness.  And creaking and occasional snaps and bursts of lightning and muted thunder.   The power was out.  I stepped out to the front door to see.  The lights in the houses across the street were still on. Everything was covered in snow.  And it was still snowing. The snow was wet and clung to and piled on every limb and branch – and on the branches’ leaves,  all the trees still had all their leaves.  The weight of the snow plus the leaves was too much for even sturdy hardened trees that had made it through one hundred years and more.  All the trees were bent, some breaking.  Creaks and thuds echoed throughout the neighborhood.  A big old tree a few doors down which spread out 30 feet above the street, was now bent so far down if you walked under it you would have to duck. Branches, limbs, bark, had snapped off all over and already littered the yards and street.

Thundersnow is rare.  On the urban horizon of what I could see, between houses across the street, a couple of lightning bursts, but one was dark violet and the other blue, flared, and in a couple seconds I heard their brittle snapping thunder.

It wasn’t lightning.  It was two transformers a couple blocks away blowing.


One response to “10/12/10 – the october surprise storm of 2006, first night

  1. That’s a fascinating story.

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