Lake Effect Summary - February 19 - 20, 2008


Maximum Snowfall: Lake Erie 14" (Elma)   Lake Ontario 49" (Pulaski) 

Duration: 42 hours +/- 

Prime Feature: Impressive westerly flow event. Uncertain ice coverage issues off Lake Erie.

A surge of arctic air followed a secondary cold front which crossed the area Monday night 18th and soon set off lake effect snows off both lakes. The activity off Ontario was intense and well forecasted, but the activity off Lake Erie was a surprise as the lake was considered over 80% frozen and only capable of limited impact, but the recent warm spell on Sunday into early Monday accompanied by strong winds evidently broke up much of the ice.

The Lake Ontario activity began Tuesday midday over Jefferson county but soon settled slowly southward as the winds veered to westerly later in the day. The band settled southward across most of Oswego county Tuesday night before lifting north to the Oswego-Jeff county line early Wednesday and remained there much of the day before lifting north again. Some minor activity redeveloped on a northwest flow Wednesday night further south and west over Wayne county. Total accumulations were a foot or less over most areas due to the transition of the band, but a narrow area of northern Oswego County around Lacona and Pulaski caught tremendous amounts, of 3 to 4 feet.

The activity off Erie was most interesting…and was highly subject to locations of open water. A 240 flow set off activity Tuesday morning, but initiated over a 5 mile wide area of open water which hugged the south shore of the Lake and lifted northeast to Colden and Alden. Several inches fell before the activity became cellular due to the stronger late February sun. During the afternoon, more activity developed over a patch of open water, this time north of Long Point and along the north shore of the lake. This turned into an intense single band during Tuesday evening which extended across Lackawanna to Depew and Darien with 1-2 inch per hour rates. A few more bands developed and dissipated overnight into Wednesday morning with one final band giving several inches to East Aurora and Wales Wednesday morning. Total accumulations ranged up to a foot or a little more just southeast of Buffalo in Depew and Elma, but the gradient was sharp with 4 inches at airport and only 1-2 inches in Amherst. To the south, amounts varied from 4 to 10 inches.

All in all, an impressive event with much impact, and a lesson that lake snows can indeed occur, even with a mostly frozen Lake Erie.

This event was impressive and rare off a mainly frozen Lake Erie. It had a major impact as well on metro Buffalo. It therefore earns four **** stars.

Here are some representative reports. 

Off of Lake Ontario...

Location Snowfall
Pulaski 49 inches
Sandy Creek 22 inches
Lacona 19 inches
Mexico 16 inches
Volney 10 inches
Highmarket 9 inches

Off of Lake Erie...

Location Snowfall
Elma 14 inches
S. Wales 13 inches
Darien 13 inches
Depew 12 inches
E. Aurora 11 inches
West Seneca 10 inches
Buffalo 2-6 (N to S)

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Page last modified: December 18, 2013
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