December 24, 2004

Lake Flake scale: *** 3 Flakes


Maximum Snowfall: Lk. Erie: 13" (West Seneca); Lk. Ontario: 23" (Pulaski).

Duration: 36 Hours +/-

Prime Feature: High impact storm for metro Buffalo on Christmas Eve

Lake Flake Scale: *** 3 Flakes

The season’s second event followed the passage of a very deep low pressure area which passed from the Gulf right over Buffalo during the midday of the 23rd. Temperatures were in the 50s east of the low…but held in the 30s immediately to the west. This was the same storm which buried the Ohio Valley under record one to two foot snowfalls and even dropped 8 inches as close as the Niagara Peninsula . Colder air swept into western New York following the passage of the storm Thursday afternoon (23rd) and set up some lake effect over higher elevations of the southern tier during the evening which dropped 2 to 4 inches overnight along the ridges back from Lake Erie from Stockton and Perrysburg to Warsaw. A more intense band set up over northern Oswego and southwest Lewis counties overnight into Friday morning and dropped up to 12 inches near Pulaski.


The activity off Lake Erie reorganized during the mid and late morning of Friday 24th into a single wide band from about Silver Creek to Boston and then raced northward into the Buffalo metro area during the early afternoon. The steering wind fields were very light…unlike a normal Buffalo area lake storm…but the airmass was very cold and dendritic snow growth parameters were optimum…with huge fluffy flakes of low water content. The snow area lifted up into southern Niagara county…then settled back over northern Erie county from about 3 to 6 pm before drifting south during the evening. A general  6 to 12 inches fell..with the heaviest amount from Downtown to the Airport. It was Buffalo ’s 6th major (over 6”) lake storm in the last 12 years on either Dec 24 or 25!. The activity consolidated near the lakeshore overnight and early Saturday Christmas Day from about Dunkirk to Collins…then drifted west into the lake and dissipated Saturday morning.


The activity off Ontario followed a similar trend to that of Erie ’s…albeit about 6 hours later. Snowbands moved north into Jefferson County Friday afternoon and evening…dropping 4 to 8 inches…then settled south again late Friday night and continued into Oswego county again Saturday morning. The band weakened and drifted west into Lake Ontario during the day Saturday as the winds turned light easterly..even reaching Toronto Saturday night! The flow turned northeast on Sunday and a new lake band set up along the south shore of the Lake and settled into Niagara to Monroe counties Sunday night…dropping 3 to 6 inches!

The event was a relatively modest storm but had large impacts as it affected a major population area and disrupted some holiday travel on Christmas Eve, including closure of the Buffalo airport for a few hours.…so the event earns *** 3 Stars ***

Off Lake Erie

West Seneca

13 inches
Buffalo Airport 12 inches
Hamburg 10 inches
Boston/Colden 8 inches
Silver Creek 8 inches
Amherst 6 inches

Off Lake Ontario


23 inches
N. Osceola 8 inches
Hooker 8 inches
Mexico 7 inches
Watertown 5 inches