LAKE EFFECT STORM "IRON"
January 28-31, 2004
Lake Flake scale: ***** 5 Flakes
Maximum Snowfall: Lk. Erie: 13" Orangeville; Lk. Ontario: 86" Parish.
Duration: 84 Hours +/-
Prime Feature: Intense Northwest flow, upstream lake connection
Lake Flake Scale: ***** 5 Flakes
We don't rank many lake effect events with 5 flakes. This one deserves it! Januaryís fourth event was the seasonís most intense and followed quickly on the heels of the previous two, with arctic air remaining entrenched over the region. A strong trof crossed the lower lakes on Wednesday the 28th, which caused significant problems with a few inches falling in a short time during the morning rush hour in the Buffalo area with extensive blowing snow. A well aligned 280 flow set up later that afternoon, initiating an intense band over Oswego county. The winds remained nearly steady state for the next 36-42 hours...with a distinct upper lakes connection all the way from eastern Lake Superior.
4 to 5 feet fell in a narrow section of central Oswego county by Friday afternoon. A weak trof approached later Friday, backing the winds just enough to cause the band to drift about 10-15 miles north...into southern Lewis county as well as the border area of Jefferson county for awhile Friday night before the trof passed...disrupting the band before allowing more activity to get better organized again by early Saturday on a 300 flow. Locally heavy snow fell across Wayne County and into the Syracuse area much of Saturday with the activity veering even further into Monroe County Saturday evening before finally shutting down early Sunday. Once again, as has been the case with the last several events, the activity hung on several hours longer than projected, even with inversion levels below 2000 feet...probably due to the saturated frigid airmass close to the surface.
The response off Lake Erie was much more limited due to ice cover, but it was not totally absent either. A large area of snow showers and occasional squalls prevailed over higher elevations south of Buffalo from late Wednesday into Friday, with the activity migrating north into the Buffalo area later Friday, dropping several inches of windblown snow. It was an appropriate way to end a very harsh and severe month.
Storm totals off Ontario were extreme, the second highest we have ever recorded in a single storm in the ten years of snowspotting. A large part of Oswego county received over four feet, with a narrow strip over the central part of the county catching over seven feet in the three day period. Storm totals of a foot extended west to the Rochester area. Off Erie, as much as 18 inches fell over higher elevations of Wyoming county, with lesser amounts to the north and south.
This event was very intense and long lasting and brought the second highest amounts ever recorded to an area already hard hit by the previous two storms. It earns FIVE ***** Stars.
Here are some representative reports...
Off Lake Erie
|South Wales||12 inches|
Off Lake Ontario
|West Monroe||56 inches|
|North Osceola||51 inches|
|Syracuse AP||22 inches|
|Rochester AP||11 inches|