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Lake Effect - How it Defines Buffalo's Weather and Climate

Lake Effect - How it Defines Buffalo's Weather and Climate

Posted: January 23, 2012

Have you ever wondered how much of a factor the lake effect really has on Western New York's weather? Find out, and learn a little about art in the process, during this panel discussion, Sunday, January 29, at 2:00 p.m. at the Burchfield Penney Art Center. The event is free and open to the public.

This special event is held in conjunction with Weather Event, an exhibition that features Charles E. Burchfield’s depictions of the weather and climate south of Lake Erie, chronicled through text, drawings, and paintings. Curated by Tullis Johnson, manager of archives and information resources at the Burchfield Penney, and Stephen Vermette climatologist and Buffalo State professor of geography, the exhibition runs through February 26.

Vermette will moderate the “Lake Effect” panel discussion which includes meteorologists Don Paul, from WIVB-News 4 and Aaron Mentkowski, from WKBW-News 7; and David Zaff, science operations officer with the National Weather Service. Vermette will start the program with his premise that the geographic positions of Buffalo and other locations south of Lake Erie share a unique climate experience that Burchfield captured for more than 50 years in his artwork. The panel will enlighten visitors with the realities and myths of Buffalo weather.

“Interpreting elements of weather in Burchfield’s watercolors is simply an extension of Burchfield’s own understanding and appreciation of weather, and how weather and climate are important in defining ‘place,’” said Vermette, who teaches meteorology and climatology at Buffalo State.

 “Weather Event provides a wonderful intersection between art and science, and the panel discussion is a natural extension of this,” Vermette said. “The panelists represent a professional range of meteorologists, from broadcasting, government, and academia. Most importantly, together they represent a rich knowledge of local weather. As Buffalonians, any opportunity to talk about weather is as natural to us as walking and breathing.”

At 1:00 p.m. and also after the 2:00 p.m. discussion, the public is invited to attend a docent-led tour of the exhibition.

Reservations are recommended (especially for school groups). Call Mary Kozub at (716) 878-3156. For more information on the exhibition and event, see

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