2021-2022 Winter Weather Outlook

What to expect this winter for Western New York
Buffalo Snow
Posted at 7:02 AM, Nov 04, 2021

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — To determine a long-range forecast, you need to look at weather patterns across the globe. This year the big weather story will be the impact of La Nina.

Are We Due For A Mild Winter?

La Nina occurs when strong winds blow the warmer water from the Pacific Ocean westward away from South America. As this warmer water moves to the west, it is replaced by colder water from the deep that rises to the surface. This cold water phase can have a huge impact on global weather patterns. Forecasters are calling for a nearly 90 percent chance that La Nina will be in place from December through February. This will impact our weather this winter. Last winter when La Nina was in place, we experienced above-normal temperatures. We're expecting to another winter with above normal temperatures this year.

La Nina

But How Much Snow Are We Going To Get?

When talking about winter in Western New York, you can't just stand at the airport to measure snow. You have to look at the entire region to see where the flakes are flying!
This is last year's snow map, and as you can see, winter does not treat each community equally. For instance, we all know the deeper Southtowns and S. Tier will always see the snow, and for them it's not a question of inches, but will it be 10 feet or 20 feet of snow this year. Coming down out of the hills through Orchard Park, West Seneca and Blasdell the snow drifts diminish quickly. Over the Northtowns like Grand Island, the Tonawandas, Wheatfield and all the way to Wilson, the snow piles get smaller and smaller especially along the shoreline of Lake Ontario.


Last year, the 100-inch snow line was pushed all the way down the 219 into the Southtowns.. But in 2018, it was much farther north, burying the City of Buffalo and the Northtowns with over 100 inches of snow running over to Batavia and along the Thruway to Rochester.


So the question is will the 100-inch snow line be sent into the Southtowns or be back in the City of Buffalo and the Northtowns? To answer that question for you, let's hit the statistics!

Ever wonder what a year's worth of snow looks like? Well here it is!
This Tube represents last year’s snowfall at 77 inches or 6.4 feet! In an average winter, most Buffalonians will end up shoveling either side of 100 inches of snow out of their driveways. But digging into that 100 inches number revealed a VERY interesting pattern. Let me show you! Each of these tubes represents Buffalo's seasonal snowfall for the last 10 years...


-Two years ago, we had an easier year with less than 70 inches

-Then a pair of 100 inches-plus seasons in 2018 & 2019

-Before that it was 2 years of light shoveling in 2016 & 2017

-Then back in 2014 & 2015 some heavy lifters, as more than 10 feet fell in one of the snowiest years in recent memory.

-Taking us back to near the beginning of the decade, this is where one of the lightest snow seasons in Buffalo history happened putting down only a yard stick worth of the white stuff over the course of an entire year!

So, did you catch the pattern? Take a look from a different angle...


Do you see it now? Over the last decade every two years Buffalo’s snow total has been below 100" then above 100" and each time it's been by more than a foot in either direction. But we wanted to dig deeper and find out how far the pattern went... here's what we found!

Only one time in the last 30 years has Buffalo had less than 100 inches of snow three years in a row


And only once in the last 50 years has Buffalo had less than 90 inches of snow for three consecutive years.


While a pattern over a 50-year period is interesting stat we wanted more... could a record warm October reveal any answers to the upcoming season?

After looking at the warmest Octobers in the modern era, we found most years the following snow season was over the 100-inches mark.


So will this year continue the pattern, or will it break a 50-year cycle?

Statistically speaking, Buffalo should be on its way to a triple digit snowfall this season. And with La Nina in full effect, the atmosphere is primed to push an active storm track right through the Great Lakes tapping into a very warm Lake Erie.


So a word of advice Western New York: Get your shovels ready because winter is on the way, and we’ll be watching to keep you one step ahead of the snow!