Locally speaking: Weather conference held on campus


Dalton Patterson/ The Record

Retired WIVB-TV chief meteorologist Don Paul spoke at the conference.

Olivia Smith, Staff Writer

SUNY Buffalo State hosted It’s Local! A Conference on Buffalo’s Weather and Climate on Saturday, April 30.

The conference provided an opportunity for the community to learn about weather, climate change, and research studies from the Buffalo National Weather Service and Buffalo State’s meteorology and climatology students.

“Meteorology is such a fascinating area,” said David Zaff, science operations officer at the Buffalo office of the National Weather Service. “We have people interested in all parts of it.”

Zaff had a few presentations, including one on ‘Snowvember.’ He also spoke on the necessary tools for forecasting properly.

“The problem with social media is that people put unscientific data out there,” Zaff said. “You need expertise, experience and models to be accurate.”

Buffalo State Geography and Planning Professor Stephen Vermette also gave several presentations, including one titled Buffalo’s Climate Trends. Vermette worked with student Fred Bloom on the project.

“Our goal was to explore the past and see what will come in the next ten to twenty years,” Vermette said.

Vermette and Bloom came across several trends that can affect all in the Western New York area, such as the increase in the growing season, the annual decrease in the sunshine percentage, and that snowfall is most concentrated from December to March.

Don Paul, retired chief meteorologist with WIVB-TV, spoke about his time forecasting Western New York area weather and how it had changed since he started.

“Things are really different now. It’s getting a lot harder for the new reporters,” Paul said. “They have to shoot, write, edit, and then start another story, which can be very stressful.”

Paul believes that he pays too much attention to climatology, but is fascinated by all the ways to keep up with it.

“The technology today is specular stuff,” Paul said.

Tom Niziol, winter weather expert from The Weather Channel in Atlanta, GA, also spoke on his amazement with the available technology.

The Weather Channel was recently renovated with new lab equipment and set design.

“It’s a wild place to walk into, and an exceptional operation,” Niziol said.

He started forecasting weather for just a few counties, but is now able to look at weather from a national level.

“I love all that’s available, but sometimes I like to use the chalkboard to explain winter weather,” Niziol said with a laugh.

Following the presentations was a “Weather Radar” workshop, demonstrated by Zaff. Assistant Professor in the Department of Earth Sciences and Science Education at Buffalo State, Jude Sabato, also did a workshop titled Atmosphere in a Tank.

The department is unsure as to whether the conference will be held again next year, but hopes that it will sometime in the future.

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