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October Surprise Storm 7 Years Later

Seven years ago on October 13, Western New York was hit by the largest and earliest October stom on record, leaving several people without power for several days, spawning a boom in generator sales, and searing the October 13 date into the memory of many, especially those east and north of Buffalo.

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The days before the storm were quite mild for early October. But then, says National Weather Service meterologist John Hitchcock, things changed.

"We had a strong low pressure system move into the Great Lakes states, and behind that was a mass of cold air that was just cold enough to set the stage for lake effect snow," says Hitchcock.

Here's how The National Weather Service described it in their storm blog:   Read more here

"Not only was it the earliest named event by far (two weeks) of the over 120 in the 13 year record of our lake effect archive, but it was the most unique in regards to destruction of trees and power outages, directly because of its out of season factor.

"Almost a million residents of the Niagara Frontier lost power, some for as long as a week, and tree damage was the worst in memory, especially to the lush vegetation in the many historic parkways and parks in the Buffalo area."

The crippling snows extended well across Genesee and Orleans counties, and pushed into extreme southern Niagara county, but there was a sharp cutoff to any damage, which ran along a line from Whitehaven Road on Grand Island to Wheatfield to Medina on the north, Leroy and Bergen on the east, and East Aurora and southern Hamburg on the south.

Finally, all snow melted within about 48 to 60 hours with little flooding. Here are some representative reports.   All reports off of Lake Erie...


Eyewitness Account
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Trucker Richard Seyfang
on The WBEN Liveline
Depew 24 inches,  Alden (Millgrove) 24 inches, Cheektowaga (NWS) 22.6 inches, Buffalo (North) 20 inches, Buffalo (Downtown) 15 inches, Buffalo (South) 10 inches, Amherst 14 to 22 inches, Clarence 16 to 22 inches,Tonawanda 12 to 18 inches, West Seneca 14 inches, North Tonawanda 6 to 12 inches,Hamburg 8 to 14 inches, Orchard Park 8 inches, Batavia 10 inches,Medina 8 inches, Lockport 6 to 8 inches, Grand Island 2 to 10 inches, Albion 5 inches, Brockport 3 inches, Niagara Falls 1 inch.

The event had the most impact of any in our record. Not only the amount of snow which was among our highest, but it was way out of season and of course had the far greatest damage and power problems and affected over a million, people in a dramatic fashion for many days. It therefore earns...

Buffalo, NY (WBEN) More than 40,000 trees were lost in the storm, but some of those trees live on all over the area.

"It left behind something for people to remember the storm, unfortunately, but what good can come out of it," says Therese Forton-Barnes, who launched Carvings for a Cause, as a fundraising effort to replace trees lost in the storm. "We have wonderful carvings of significant characters and people from Western New York who gave us a lot of memories or history."

Among the carvings are Father Baker, and Bills legends Thurman Thomas and Jim Kelly. The carvings can still be seen across Western New York. They were made from trees the storm took down.

The money raised went primarily toward planting trees throughout the region. "Losing 40,000 trees was detrimental to our region. Thankfully, there are a lot of great people who helped with my project but with Re-Tree Western New York who really did a lot of work to getting our trees planted in areas where they got hit bad," says Forton-Barnes.

The last of the carvings was done roughly a year and a half ago.

 Seven Years Later,  about 90 percent of the trees in Western New York are misshapen....

due to the storm, according to Thomas Herrerra-Mischler, of the Olmstead Parks Conservancy.   He says about 90 percent of the trees were somehow affected.

The conservancy has a goal of planting 1,000 new trees each year, to replace those killed in the storm and bring the parks up to a peak not seen this century.  

Similarly, Re-Tree WNY has a 60,000 tree replanting goal. Volunteers there have already placed about 25,000 trees.

  Exclusive WBEN Audio
In Studio with WBEN's John Zach & Dave Debo

Paul Maurer  Re-Tree WNY.org


Here's a look at the tree canopy on Burroughs Drive in Amherst, where the scars of chopped branches remain, and the now twisted shape of some trees is not at all the standard elegant form of years ago.


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Locations : BuffaloNew YorkWestern New York
People : Jim KellyTherese Forton-BarnesThurman Thomas
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