BUFFALO, N.Y. -- After years of jokes about their harsh winters, Buffalo residents are basking in sunshine as the rest of the Eastern Seaboard suffers through record snowstorms.
Yes, that's right, Buffalo -- the city that sends shivers up and down the spines of Californians. The city that last year got 25.3-inches of snow in less than 24 hours, and the home of the now-famous Blizzard of 1977.
It's a whole different story this winter. Residents have taken to referring to their city as the 'Miami of the North. This winter has seemed like nothing less than a brush with summer.
'Our biggest problem this winter has been sunburn, heat prostration and the absenteeism of people taking off from work to enjoy the great out of doors,' said J. Patrick Donlon, vice president of the Buffalo Area Chamber of Commerce, tongue planted firmly in cheek.
Temperatures have averaged well above normal and the state's second-largest city has received only 42.6 inches of snow thus far -- and all of that has melted. Insteadof piled with snowbanks, the ground is green.
When the recent snowstorms paralyzed the East Coast, Buffalo received only a few flurries. In a normal winter, the city should have 68.5 inches of snow by now.
'I was in Fort Meyers, Fla., last week and it went down to under 40 degrees a couple of nights,' boasted Mayor James Griffin. 'Buffalo doesn't have to take a back seat to anybody this year as far as weather is concerned.'
Griffin noted the mild weather should also help city's coffers. The 'non-winter' has resulted in the use of less road salt and a reduction in overtime paid to workers who clear city streets.
'Last year we used 30,000 tons of road salt,' Griffin said. 'This year we probably haven't used one-sixth of that.'
Donald Wuerch, chief meteorologist at the Buffalo National Weather Service Office, is used to having his name taken in vain as the bearer of bad news every winter.
Not this year. Wuerch reports the average temperature in November was 3.2 degrees above normal. December, the second-warmest December on record in Buffalo, was 9.6 degrees above normal.
'We had 74 degrees on Dec. 3 and it was 64 degrees on Christmas Day,' he said with a laugh.
January was 3.5 degrees above normal and February temperatures have been normal.
'Nobody has anything to do with it and we're just enjoying it,' Donlon said. 'It goes to prove that any city that has a bad or a good reputation about its weather can't do anything about it.'
And what about entertainer Johnny Carson, who often rattled city officials with his Buffalo weather jokes?
'We would love to have Johnny Carson come to Buffalo,' Donlon said. 'The only problem is that he would probably get sunstroke.'