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BUFFALO HOPES SUNNY DATA WILL GORE MISPERCEPTIONS

At last, Buffalo is getting its day in the sun.

A new report compiled from three decades of weather data is literally putting this much-maligned city in a new light.Buffalo recorded the highest percentage of sunshine - 67 percent - of any major Northeast city from June through August. Buffalo also had the least rain during the period - 8.69 inches - and was the coolest with an average July afternoon temperature of 80 degrees.

"People just can't believe it," Robert Carr, a spokesman for the Greater Buffalo Chamber of Commerce, said Thursday. "They've got this misconception that all we have is snow.

"Sure, we get our snow, but we get our sun, too," Carr added.

Residents have long complained that on the basis of one storm - the Blizzard of 1977 - the city has the reputation of a frozen tundra.

Buffalo did have the most snow of any large city during the 1970s, according to the weather service. But other, smaller New York cities such as Syracuse and Watertown, and Caribou, Maine, received more snow.

The last three winters in Buffalo have been unusually mild, with less than 67 inches of snow. The average yearly total is 96.6 inches.

Carr and other Buffalo residents are hoping that the new report, which was compiled by meteorologist Stephen McLaughlin using weather service data, will help change the city's image.

"You can't argue with the statistics," Carr said.

Buffalo's 67 percent sunshine - the equivalent of two sunny days out of every three - edges out Boston at 65 percent; New York City, 64 percent; Baltimore and Washington, each 63 percent; Philadelphia, 62 percent; Albany, 61 percent; and Pittsburgh, 58 percent.

Lake Erie, the source of much of Buffalo's snow in winter, is responsible for its pleasant conditions in summer, according to meteorologist Jerry Pace of the National Weather Service in Buffalo.

While cold air moving across warm lake generates lake-effect snows in fall and early winter, warm winds across cold waters dampen the formation of clouds in spring and early summer, Pace said.

Also, cool breezes off the lake keep summer temperatures down, so that there are few uncomfortably hot days in Buffalo, he said.