Students look to get away from Buffalo’s record cold winter

Spring break gives students time away from the bitter cold temperatures


Andrew Kuch, a first-year MBA student, has been counting down the days until he can leave the record-breaking cold weather of Buffalo for the heat of Cancun, Mexico.

He has been monitoring Buffalo’s weather every day this semester to make sure it’s safe for him to make the commute to campus. He’s sick of it.

“I just can’t wait to be out of the cold. Only two weeks right?” Kuch said.

In less than two weeks, Kuch will be leaving Buffalo – which had an average temperature of 10.9 degrees Fahrenheit in February – for Cancun where the average temperature for the next week will be 85.

Kuch is one of 32 percent of UB students who will be escaping the cold of the Buffalo winter and traveling to somewhere with warmer temperatures for spring break, according to The Spectrum’s survey of 218 students.

February 2015 was the coldest month in the city of Buffalo’s history, according to the National Weather Service records that go back to 1871. The average temperature for the month was 10.9 degrees Fahrenheit, breaking the previous record of 11.6 degrees in 1932. February was also, for the second time in Buffalo’s history, below freezing every day of the month.

“It has felt like one of the coldest winters ever and I’m excited to be anywhere that’s above freezing,” said Kayleigh Miller, a senior biomedical engineering major who is also going to Cancun for spring break.

Starting in November, there have been 84 days where the average temperature was below freezing, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Buffalo is currently on a streak of 32 days, beginning Jan. 29, where the mercury has not risen above freezing.

Buffalo is not the only city setting records for cold this winter. Syracuse and Rochester also set all-time average lows for the month of February, and Washington, D.C. had a February that was its coldest since 1994, according to the National Weather Service.

As the students flee record cold temperatures in Buffalo during spring break, the warmer-weather destinations they’ll be heading to may be experiencing record high temperatures.

This makes Miller even more excited to head south.

Globally, 2014 was the warmest year on average and December 2014 was the 358th consecutive month where global land and ocean surface temperature was above average, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Cities across the Western and Southern United States have set records for the warmest average winter on record, according to the National Weather Service. Red Bluff, California had an average temperature of 52.93 degrees, breaking the previous record set in the 1977-78 winter.

Jason Briner, an associate geology professor, said the reason this winter is seeing extremes on both ends of the thermometer is because the temperature of the equator and poles are becoming more similar to one another.

“The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the globe on average. This is decreasing the equator to pole temperature gradient,” Briner said. “This actually mean the winds are going slower, which means the polar vortex is slowing down.”

Briner compared the polar vortex to a tornado – he said what stays in a tornado, stays in the tornado. The polar vortex keeps the cold air in the North Pole, but when it slows down, “some of that cold air spills down into lower latitudes, which is what we are experiencing,” Briner said.

“It is difficult to walk around because of the snow and ice and it’s impossible to go outside without a hat or gloves,” said Elizabeth Hayden, a sophomore biomedical science major who is traveling to Delray Beach, Florida for spring break. “I’m going to Florida to get out of the cold.”

The cold weather has plenty of adverse effects on any city or person, but according to Mark Seery, an associate psychology professor, prolonged exposure to the cold may toughen people up.

“Moderate adversity can leave people better at handling stressors,” Seery said. “Our winter is like a prolonged natural disaster. Even though it is unpleasant, people derive some benefit from it.”

Still, some students will chose to trade in their scarves and gloves for swimsuits and tank tops this spring break.