January 16 - 18, 2005

Lake Flake scale: **** 4 Flakes


Maximum Snowfall: Lk. Erie: 21" (Perrysburg); Lk. Ontario: 24" (Gasport).

Duration: 48 Hours +/-

Prime Feature: N-NW flow. Interaction with trough, synoptic enhancement. Arctic air.

Lake Flake Scale: **** 4 Flakes

Our fourth lake effect event of the 2004-05 winter followed quickly as the first substantial cold episode deepened across the Lower Lakes. This event was a complicated one, at least at the start, and produced almost unprecedented snowfall amounts over eastern Niagara and western Orleans counties.

The event began during Sunday afternoon January 16 as a weak mid level short wave brought a general area of light snow to all of western New York. Most areas received less than an inch from this feature. However, a northwest-southeast surface trof set up across the region as a coastal storm developed. This turned winds to the northeast, then gradually north and northwest over the next 24 hours. A strong band of snow developed offshore from Lake Ontario Sunday afternoon as the arctic air deepened and then the band moved onshore as winds backed. Heavy snow fell over much of Niagara County Sunday evening and this feature grew eastward across Orleans and into Monroe counties overnight. Some of this activity drifted down into the Buffalo area at times, especially its northern suburbs. Bands of moderate to heavy snow continued through much of Monday from eastern Niagara to Wayne counties…with a secondary arctic front disrupting the activity as it pushed south during Monday evening, even bringing a burst of heavier snow down across Erie and Genesee Counties. A more typical northwest flow multiple band event then continued Monday night until about midday Tuesday when lighter winds shut off the activity. The snows did not extend very far into Oswego county as flow was too northerly for most of the event.

Off Lake Erie…several narrow bands of heavy snow developed in a more typical WNW Lake effect situation late Sunday night into much of Monday. This activity focused on the ridges of northern Chautauqua and northwest Cattaraugus counties where over a foot fell. Several inches also fell across much of the rest of Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties.

The Rochester area caught their heaviest fall of the winter, with 48 hour totals of about a foot. The heaviest snow there fell during the wee hours Monday and again during the afternoon and evening. The Buffalo area was between activity for the most part, catching 3 to 5 inches total over the two days with few disruptions and just slippery roads.

As for meteorological parameters, inversion levels were fairly high, at 6-8 k feet, there was decent low level shear but moisture and snow growth parameters were excellent. In addition, the antecedent conditions, band out over the lake, were factors. The Niagara escarpment may have aided in the lift.

This event was highly unusual in location and amounts and occurred after a long mild period. It affected a fairly large population area but did occur on a holiday so disruptions and cancellations were minimized. Still,  it earns **** 4 Stars **** 

Off Lake Erie


21 inches
Cassadaga 13 inches
Frewsburg 7 inches
Franklinville 7 inches

Off Lake Ontario


24 inches
Lockport 20 inches
Lyndonville 18 inches
Walworth 18 inches
Holley 14 inches
Rochester Metro 10 - 14 inches
Geneva 9 inches
Niagara Falls 7 inches
Buffalo Metro 3 - 5 inches