LAKE EFFECT STORM "FELDSPAR"
January 6-9, 2004
Lake Flake scale: **** 4 Flakes
Maximum Snowfall: Lk. Erie: 37" (Cassadaga; Lk. Ontario: 34" (N. Osceola).
Duration: 90 Hours +/-
Prime Feature: Long lasting, two phases, big impact in Rochester
Lake Flake Scale: **** 4 Flakes
The 2003-04 winter seasonís first surge of arctic air resulted in a major long lasting lake effect event. The bulk of the snow fell during the first couple of days in the more traditional snowbelts east of Lakes Erie and Ontario...but areas not as prone to heavy lake snows also shared in the action as the winds shifted later in the week.
The event began early Tuesday morning following a sharp cold front which ended a three week stretch of mild weather. Off Lake Erie...a strong westerly flow ignited heavy lake snowbands over southern Erie and Wyoming counties Tuesday morning (6th)...they then migrated south and then north...reaching the Buffalo South Towns for awhile Tuesday evening before settling south into ski country later Tuesday night and most of Wednesday before gradually weakening. Accumulations topped two feet over a large portion of northern Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties with over 30 inches along the ridges. Ski areas were the beneficiary of the most snow. There was a sharp cutoff along the northern fringe with 8 inches in Orchard Park but 2 inches or less across most of metro Buffalo.
Lake Ontario provided more of the
action...and a little more variety as well. The activity began on a westerly
flow as on Erie...just a few hours later...but focused on the northern Tug Hill
into southern Jefferson county Tuesday afternoon and evening before settling
south across Oswego county early Wednesday. One to two feet fell in this
area...with locally 30 inches on the southwestern Tug. The band settled south
during Wednesday and edged onshore all along the lake from Wayne county back
west into Orleans county. There was a marked variation across the Rochester
metro with very heavy snow falling near the lake and sunshine south of the city.
A weak backdoor front..or trof...dropped south across the lake and interacted
with this band...perhaps intensifying it for a time later Wednesday and
Wednesday evening. It weakened some later Wed. Night
as it drifted south to about the Thruway...but the trof re-established itself
later Thursday and pushed south...reorienting the band to a more northeast to
southwest look Thursday evening with several inches falling over Orleans and
Niagara counties. The flow turned northeast later Thursday Night and Friday with
a general light lake effect activity within 10-15 miles of the lake...with no
more than a few more inches falling. The activity gradually tapered off Friday
night but flurries still lingered into Saturday 10th . Totals across
the Rochester area ranged from just a few inches near the Thruway to 8 inches
downtown to almost 20 inches near the lake. The heaviest amounts there were
Wednesday and Wednesday evening when band was west to east oriented.
The event was long lasting, had a wide scope and was intense at times. It was the heaviest lake snow around metro Rochester area in the last 10 years. It also replenished the ski areas which were in dire need since the early winter was warm and lacked much snow. For those reasons it earns **** flakes.
Off Lake Erie
|S. Wales||20 inches|
|Orchard Park||8 inches|
Off Lake Ontario