The 7 Times Buffalo Was Surprisingly Affected by a Hurricane
As downstate took a hit from Tropical Storm Henri, formerly Hurricane Henri on Sunday, August 22, 2021. It got me thinking about whether a hurricane has ever hit Buffalo. I mean, we are one of the furthest cities in the state away from the coast and the Atlantic Ocean, so it's certainly less likely than New York City. Even as Henri was barreling towards NYC, we barely had a little sprinkle of rain on Sunday.
I lived in Florida for many years though, so I know that hurricanes can potentially hit cities that are more land-locked than their coastal counterparts. I lived in Tallahassee, which was about an hour away from the water in any given direction, but we still felt the impact of hurricanes. According to Florida State University's research, Tallahassee was hit by a hurricane once every 8 years on average - 22 in 171 years of record-keeping.
When I researched how many times Buffalo has been 'hit' by a hurricane (within 150 miles), there were seven, according to Home Facts,
- Ernesto made landfall on September 1, 2006
- Frances made landfall on September 6, 2004
According to WBFO, National Weather Service Meteorologist Steve McLaughlin says Hurricane Frances was responsible for the rain,
This is very unusual for Western New York. This is the type of stuff that the East Coast usually sees -- a large low pressure area with a lot of precipitation. Usually, our heavy rains come from very localized thunderstorms. But this is a widespread storm that affected the entire area with similar amounts.
- Dennis made landfall on September 4, 1999
- Fran Made landfall on September 6, 1996
According to the Associated Press, Fran affected a game at the Univerity at Buffalo versus the University of Connecticut,
Leftover thunderclouds from Hurricane Fran poured all over the University of Buffalo Stadium as rain and mud amounted to a messy-looking game.
- Opal made landfall on October 4, 1995
- Hugo made landfall on September 22, 1989
Larry Elkin, President of Palisades Hudson recalls the damange Hurricane Hugo caused in Buffalo,
Hugo next traversed the Appalachians, weakening as it went but still bringing flooding rains to places that were not expecting it. It emerged near the Great Lakes, produced its last of about 110 total fatalities by dropping a tree onto a motorist near Buffalo, N.Y., and swirled across Lake Ontario — right into Toronto.
- Connie made landfall on August 12, 1955
Based on the data above provided by Home Facts, September is when a hurricane is likely to hit Western New York, with five of the seven making landfall in the month. It also looks like we are long overdue to feel an impact from a hurricane, with the last one being in 2006, that's almost 15 years.
The actual impact on Buffalo of each of these hurricanes might have been relatively small since Home Facts looked at storms that were within 150 miles, which is about a 2-hour drive or so from us.
Erie County, NY is in a very low risk hurricane zone. 9 hurricanes have been recorded in the Erie County, NY since 1930. The largest hurricane was Frances in 2004. The most recent Erie County, NY hurricane was Ernesto in 2006. ~ Home Facts
Obviously, Buffalo, Erie County and the rest of WNY are more likely to be hit directly by a blizzard, polar vortex, snow storm or whatever you want to call it. We have those in abundance!