By now, we all know that this week’s weather event was a blizzard, a rare event in Western New York.
What we didn’t know was that a blizzard in Buffalo is different from a blizzard anywhere else.
That was the information that viewers of “Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees” learned Tuesday evening.
This week’s blizzard was the first in Western New York in more than 20 years, which led to an interesting exchange between Cooper and correspondent Pamela Brown.
Cooper: “Now I understand Buffalo is actually under the first blizzard warning since ’93. It snows up there all the time, though, doesn’t it?”
Brown: “Yes, that’s right, Anderson. In fact, this is the fourth blizzard warning here in Buffalo in the past four decades. It’s surprising when you consider how used Buffalo residents are to dealing with this winter weather. And that’s a big reason why there have only been four blizzard warnings here. There’s a certain threshold that has to be met here in Buffalo for to it make the cut to be considered a blizzard warning. Normally there’s a combination of factors. The gusting winds and the snow, the heavy snow, in order for a storm to be considered a blizzard.
“In other cities it’s much easier to meet that threshold. Buffalo it’s very different because of how – used to this weather they are. That just tells you how serious and how dangerous this blizzard is here right now.”
To sum up, according to CNN, there are “blizzards,” and then there are “Buffalo blizzards.”
For the record, a blizzard is categorized as such based on sustained winds of 35 mph or more and visibility of a quarter-mile or less.
Buffalo News television columnist Alan Pergament asked WIVB-TV Channel 4 meteorologist Don Paul for a comment on the apparently differing definitions.
“Our instruments don’t have a different threshold,” Paul responded. “It’s our people. We have the same one-quarter-mile visibility and 35 mph winds that all other blizzards have. But from the Department of Ripley’s Believe It or Not, despite the fact that Buffalo gets lots more snow that NYC, we get fewer blizzards.”