=== update below the foldThe deciduous trees native to Buffalo NY evolved to lose their leaves before the the full onslaught of winter. It is the presence of full leaf cover which made the impact of sticky snow so high. Assume we had no access to meteorological records: this occurance would still appear 'un-natural' in scope, using only the benchmark of climatically driven growth seasons as a reference point.
National media coverage of this Buffalo-area storm failed to convey this point (no surprise), in spite of the fact that it is essential to understanding the potential ecosystem response to climate change. The follow-on impacts could be more signficant than property loss. Examples: native species of encephalitis carrying mosquitoes live in the rain-water holding cavities that result from branches breaking at the main stem of a tree. Several years after a storm like this, an outbreak of encephalitis may result; and a string of early snow storms such as this could lead to devastation of urban tree stands and completely change the character of city parks and streets.