Lake Effect Summary -  November 9-10, 2008

Maximum Snowfall: Lake Erie 11" (Mayville); Lake Ontario 14" (Hooker) 

Duration: 36 hours +/- 

Prime Feature: Marginal event. P-type issues. First of season. Elevation oriented.

After a very warm first week of November, a sharp cold front brought an abrupt change to colder conditions and eventually the season's first lake effect episode. As is usually the case in early season events, elevation played a major role in snowfall accumulations.

The 850 mb-lake temperature differential became large enough to allow for a band of lake effect rain to develop late Saturday night and Sunday morning (8th-9th) on a southwest wind. Temperatures gradually cooled during the day on Sunday but precipitation remained in the form of rain downwind of Lake Erie in the Buffalo area and northeast of Lake Ontario around Watertown. As colder air continued to filter in though, and winds began to veer more westerly, the rain mixed with and turned to wet snow during the late afternoon and evening. Later at night, winds shifted to a more westerly direction as a secondary trough moved across, and the lake effect moved south of Buffalo, although not before dropping 1 to 2 inches of slushy snow east and south of the city. Buffalo did receive over an inch of lake effect rain prior to the changeover. A temperature of a degree or two lower would have caused a lot of problems. Wet snow then fell at varying rates though most of the day Monday across the higher elevations of the southern tier before ending Monday evening as temperatures warmed and the cap lowered.

Off Lake Ontario, a similar scenario played out, but several hours later. Snow began in earnest late Sunday night and continued until near midnight Monday night, but it was mainly focused on the Tug Hill and central Lewis county.

Total snowfall off Lake Erie topped out in the 8 to 12 inch range along the Chautauqua Ridge and gradually dropped off to the east and southeast. Also of note was the fact that only an inch or less fell along the Lake Erie shore from downtown Buffalo to Dunkirk and Ripley.

Off Lake Ontario, heavy amounts were restricted to the central and northern Tug Hill with over a foot, but only 5 inches fell in the valley at Lowville. Little fell near Lake Ontario in Oswego county.

The event was marginal and mainly restricted to higher elevations with limited impact, but did create road issues and a few closures. It was the first event of the season. It therefore earns two ** stars.

Here are some representative reports. 

Off of Lake Erie...

Location Snowfall
Mayville 11 inches
Stockton 10 inches
Sinclairville 9 inches
Ellicottville(hill) 8 inches
Colden/Warsaw 4 inches
Jamestown 3 inches
Elma 2 inches
Buffalo Airport 1.2 inches

Off of Lake Ontario...

Location Snowfall
Hooker 14 inches
Highmarket 6 inches
Lowville 5 inches
W. Monroe 2 inches


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