LAKE EFFECT STORM "ANTHRACITE"
November 24-25, 2003
Lake Flake scale: ** 2 Flakes
Maximum Snowfall: Lk. Erie: 10" (Alden); Lk. Ontario: 5" (Redfield).
Duration: 9 Hours +/-
Prime Feature: Classic early season SW flow event. Quite brief.
Lake Flake Scale: ** 2 Flakes
The 2003-04 Season’s first event was a very brief but intense one, and as is often the case with early season storms, was on a southwest flow and accompanied by thunder and lightning.
This event quickly followed an unseasonably warm period, which included a record 70 degrees in Buffalo on the 23rd. A deep low moved across Lake Superior early on 24th and its trailing front whipped across the lower lakes and then western New York during the afternoon. Temperatures fell 25 degrees in just a couple of hours...from lower 60s to mid 30s. Synoptic rainfall ended as a touch of wet snow, but lake effect plumes developed very quickly off Lake Erie immediately behind the frontal precipitation by 5-6 pm as 850 temps fell to -8 and snowgrowth and omega fields lined up well with no shear. During the next few hours, a broad area of multiple banded snows fanned in off the eastern end of Lake Erie on a 240 flow...covering most of Buffalo’s north towns and up into southeast Niagara and Orleans counties. By 9 pm, a single band developed from Buffalo to Amherst and then slowly settled south to Lancaster and Alden by midnight. 1-2 inches fell in as many hours during this period with occasional lightning. Shear began increasing after midnight and inversion levels lowered...and the activity became more cellular...but focused in a narrow area just south and east of Buffalo from West Seneca to Elma and Alden. Winds were still strong...850mb around 50 mph...so the heavier activity extended across much of southern Genesee county...with some snows extending into Monroe County as well. The cap lowered dramatically after 4 am, shutting all activity down by 5 am. Most of metro Buffalo had 1-3" of snow, but 3-6" fell over its immediate southern suburbs, with 7-10" in a narrow area from Elma to Alden to Darien.
Off Ontario, the activity took longer to organize and held on until about 10 am, but amounts were generally in the 2 to 4 inches range...with heaviest amounts along Oswego-Jefferson county line near Lacona with 4" and Redfield with 5".
This event was well forecasted in its placement, scope and timing, but snowfall amounts were underforecast south of Buffalo. We underestimated the intensity during the few hours after midnight when parameters were diminishing...but perhaps the lightning was an indicator of the intensity of the band prior to this...and the strong winds may have kept the activity intense during those few hours where the shear was increasing and inversion lowering. Interestingly, the heaviest snow was 20-40 miles inland...not near the lake.
Off Lake Erie
|Darien Ctr.||8 inches|
|Orchard Park||5 inches|
Off Lake Ontario
|N. Osceola||3 inches|