LaRoy Mack leaned back in his lawn chair, surveying a shady, grassy area in Niagara Falls State Park where the Chicago resident was visiting family.
Mack was there to show off the natural wonder he’d experienced once before, but for now he was basking in the region’s glorious weather this Saturday: 80 degrees and a light breeze.
“We actually turned off the air conditioner and opened the windows to catch the breeze,” Mack said of his drive to the park. He said he’s tried to stay away from Chicago’s uncomfortable heat and humidity for the past two months, as heat index values approached 110 on some days.
Mack is by no means an outlier in a summer in Western New York which, compared to weather conditions in the rest of the world, is very much so. From devastating floods to out-of-control wildfires and record-breaking heat, much of the world is dealing with the ramifications of weather patterns that are at least in part the product of climate change.
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But in this corner of the world, the two main weather words have been those that make the outdoors the place to be: sunny and warm.
Admittedly, it wasn’t perfect. A tornado followed a 10-mile path through Wyoming County last month.
But compared to most other places? Is it close. And you don’t have to look far to find people doing what seems unthinkable at other times of the year: coming to Buffalo because of the weather.
In July, Buffalo never recorded a temperature above 90 degrees and only four days were 85 degrees or higher. The high temperature was between 75 and 80 degrees on the days of July 15, according to National Weather Service data.
Lack of rainfall produced drought conditions, but drought.gov only pins 8.4% of the state as moderately dry, while 46% is abnormally dry. The odds of blistering heat hitting Buffalo in August have diminished, according to News contributor Don Paul.
At some point in mid-June, 130 million Americans were under a heat warning or advisory, according to media site Axios. The oppressive heat is even worse abroad. Europe, including France, the United Kingdom, Portugal and Spain, has recorded more than 1,000 deaths this summer due to high temperatures and a lack of means to combat them.
Arthur Stickney moved with his wife and daughter from Williamsville to Nashville, Tennessee in March. His first summer in Nashville was the city’s second hottest summer on recordwith the heat wave starting in the southwest but spreading through the central and southern United States. The weather phenomenon, a high-pressure heat dome that data shows stems from a warming Arctic, also brought record-breaking temperatures to the Pacific Northwest last summer.
With previously rare and disastrous extreme weather events becoming more common in our warming climate, the risks of such events are increasing even in the Great Lakes, Paul says.
“I miss the summer nights in Buffalo. It was cooler at night compared to here,” Stickney said. “It’s not the best when it’s 2 a.m. and it’s still humid and 90 degrees.”
Historically, the Buffalo area hasn’t always dodged extreme temperatures — July 2020 set a record for most 90-degree days in a row, while winter temperatures dipped further below minus 10 degrees during of the past decade – but Buffalo still has never experienced a 100-degree day and has been dubbed a climate refuge city thanks in part to the temperature-moderating effects of nearby Lakes Erie and Ontario.
“It’s relatively quiet in the summer, when the rest of the country seems to be burning,” said Nick Rajkovich, an associate professor at the University at Buffalo who studies the impacts of climate change on cities and buildings.
Thanks in part to its moderate temperatures, Buffalo has already begun to serve as a city of refuge where people can recover from the impacts of a climate-related disaster. A family from Texas found refuge in Buffalo after Hurricane Harvey forced them to relocate in 2017, while a large contingent of Puerto Ricans moved to Buffalo due to the effects of Hurricane Maria, The News reported. 2018.
Rajkovich cautioned against tying the recent killer floods and record rainfall in Kentucky and St. Louis, Mo. exclusively to climate change because there may be more factors at play in these weather hazards. But the The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a government science and regulatory agency, charted the increase in Earth’s surface temperature over the past 140 years and also detailed how the 2013-2021 period includes nine of the 10 hottest years ever. recorded.
Bob Madden, a Buffalo expat who has lived in Austin, Texas, since 1994, said the temperatures were relentless, topping 100 degrees every day in July and on pace to break the most days in a year in 100. The St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute graduate said heat causes fatigue and irritability, another type of seasonal affective disorder.
“It really wears you down. Nobody likes summer here,” said Madden, who spoke longingly of Buffalo’s summers, springs and autumns, and looks forward to his return in mid-August. “I don’t even want to sit on the porch when it’s 105 degrees.”
Texas has been hot for the 28 years he has lived there, but the expected record number of more than 100 days this year has taken its toll.
“It’s way above what we would normally experience,” Madden said.
A tweet from Meredith Haggertythe cultural editor of entertainment site Vox, sums up the mentality.
“I know SAD is for winter, but from everyone I talk to, this summer is a lot like,” from the creators of Seasonal Depression, now comes Flamin’ Seasonal Depression. “
Tim McDaniel, a visitor from Arizona, stood by the mist and water gushing from the American Falls.
“Mother Nature provides the air conditioning here,” said McDaniel, who was visiting Niagara Falls to celebrate a friend’s birthday. “You can actually go outside.”
Ben Tsujimoto can be reached at [email protected], (716) 849-6927 or on Twitter at @Tsuj10.