Lake Effect Summary - November 16-19, 2008

Maximum Snowfall: Lake Erie 30" (Ellicottville); Lake Ontario 28" (West Leyden) 

Duration: 72 hours +/- 

Prime Feature: Impressive multi-phased event. Little population impact.

The major pattern change which began with the prior event a week earlier really set in with this event as a strong cold front crossed the eastern Lakes late Saturday and early Sunday (16th) and was immediately followed by a strong westerly lake effect event. Parameters were near perfect on Sunday with cold advection, 850 mb temps in the -10°C range which is prime for snow growth, little shear and good moisture. Initially, very heavy snow was restricted to the higher elevations of Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties on the 270 flow, but it eventually worked down to lake level as well. Erie PA even got 14". Over 20 inches fell by late Sunday night along the ridgetops. East of Lake Ontario, similar activity began on the Tug Hill Sunday morning, with amounts topping a foot by early Monday.

A secondary trof crossed the area late Monday and disrupted the lake snows, with winds veering sharply to NNW for Monday night and Tuesday. This wind shift combined with some convergence to bring some minor accumulations north of Buffalo overnight Monday night and then multiple bands set up later Tuesday and Tuesday night which gradually weakened during Wednesday morning, finally shutting down later Wednesday as a ridge moved across the area. This second phase brought up to a foot over Cayuga County with over 6 inches from Rochester's eastern suburbs to western Oswego county. Little fell over the west.

Total snowfall ranged from two feet over the Chautauqua ridge with a maximum of near 30" in Ellicottville, but dropped off sharply to the south and north, to 5" near Olean and about the same at Colden. A strip of 3 inches fell just north of Buffalo with the convergence from the trof on Monday night, the rest of the area had only 1 to 3". Further east, the Tug Hill caught upwards of two feet during the first phase (westerly flow) but then activity shifted west to the south shore of Lake Ontario from Rochester to Syracuse and south into the Finger Lakes for the remainder of the event on Tuesday and Tuesday night.

The event was impressive in regards to snow amounts but was well spread out and affected only a limited population with few major impacts. It therefore earns three *** stars.

Here are some representative reports. 

Off of Lake Erie...

Location Snowfall
Ellicottville 30 inches
S. Dayton 30 inches
Hinsdale 24 inches
Mayville 23 inches
Jamestown 15 inches
Buffalo area 1-3 inches

Off of Lake Ontario...

Location Snowfall
West Leyden 28 inches
Constableville 27 inches
Highmarket 15 inches
Fair Haven 14 inches
Oswego 11 inches
Rochester area 3-8 inches


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