Winter: the time of the year when we celebrate gift-giving festivities and only go outside to build snowmen and toboggan. Many people love winter for the serene beauty and holiday cheer it brings, however, for citizens in Buffalo, New York, their stories of winter aren’t at all cozy or beautiful. For them, winter this year means devastating blizzards leaving behind snow that, in certain locations, can be as high as a two story building (and we thought Calgary had unbearable weather). For many people, this also means being stranded in homes with a limited food supply and no power or running water—as the weight from excessive amounts of snow and high speed winds can potentially break power lines.
“We woke up to find that we weren’t moving any more because the storm was so bad,” says a CBC interviewee who had been travelling by bus to Buffalo from a basketball tournament, but ended up be throttled off schedule because of a 24-hour delay on the road home. ” [Traffic] had backed all the way up the highway and we couldn’t get off.”
The snowstorm halted many people travelling into Buffalo, creating difficulties for the vast majority of their population. Many airports and highways were also brought to a close as the blizzard blocked many forms of transportation.
One urgent inquiry, however, is how the snow got there. While people stranded in Buffalo may only see the annoying shade of white, people outside this dilemma may ask: How did so much snow reign upon Buffalo? The most accurate explanation for this is a phenomenon called “lake-effect” snow. This occurs when a cold wind gusts over the surface of a warm lake or large body of water. This newly formed water vapour then rises and deposits a walloping amount of snow when the clouds that form are overwhelmed. Buffalo, New York is, unfortunately located beside one of Canada’s five great lakes: Lake Erie. Because of the large expanse of the lake and strong, persisting winds of New York, the amount of snow is increased as well, creating that large deposit of snow in Buffalo.
So how can we take this event and turn it into something positive? For all the optimists who want to find a bright side in this story, we can learn from incidents like this. Although it is unlikely that events like these occur in Calgary, we can be prepared for these occurrences by parking our cars inside, always having an extra can of canned food and other small preparations. Lake-effect snow can also mean great skiing conditions, according to Phillip, an interviewee from CBC’s article on this incident. It can bring a lot of business and attract those who still look for a thrill even in the worst of weather conditions.
In conclusion, Buffalo taught North Americans a little more about snow and its negative side effects, however, on the other end of the spectrum, this case gives Calgarians a cautionary lesson. So, to all the citizens who have suffered from the snow in Buffalo, we send our gratitude, praise and empathy.