Lake Effect Summary - November 26-27, 2008

Maximum Snowfall: Lake Erie 15" (Perrysburg); Lake Ontario 18" (Carthage) 

Duration: 36 hours +/- 

Prime Feature: Evolved from synoptic event, lake enhanced.

The events keep coming fast and furious this November, with this fourth event making it the busiest November for lake effect since 1995. This one came on the heels of a synoptic event on Mon-Tues 24-25th which gradually evolved into lake effect. It made it a bit complicated to separate the snowfall, synoptic vs lake effect, but we used the time period around midnight on 25-26th for the split. The synoptic event brought a mixed bag of precipitation with mainly rain at lower elevations but wet snow higher up. Amounts ranged to 3 inches or so at higher elevations of the western southern tier but up to 8" on the Tug Hill, while the valleys had little or none.

A moist westerly flow set up as the surface low lifted north into Ontario and lake enhanced snow developed overnight on 25-26th off Lake Erie and in the predawn hours of the 26th off Ontario. This westerly flow had little shear and despite marginal 850 mb temps (-7°C to -8°C) the airmass was very moist and allowed for maximum snow growth on the westerly flow during the morning of the 26th. Heavy lake snows fell east of Lake Erie, a bit further north than the previous events with a 260-270 steering wind in the boundary layer. A secondary short wave brought general snow showers during the afternoon and disrupted the lake Erie activity by evening. Accumulations did reach a general 8 to 12 inches across the Boston hills and into Wyoming county, with similar amounts over northern Cattaraugus county. Lesser amounts fell to the west with little along the Lake Erie shore. This storm brought significant accumulations (6") up as far as East Aurora, but the Buffalo area again escaped with little or none.

Off Lake Ontario, the activity focused on northern Oswego county during afternoon of 26th, then lifted north and remained stationary during the overnight of 26-27th with an intense band across central Jefferson county. The Watertown area got close to a foot, but amounts dropped off sharply just north. With Theresa just getting 2". The activity gradually weakened during Thursday (Thanksgiving) due to warming temperatures and a dropping cap. One note of interest, combining the synoptic and lake effect phases, Oswego received over 2.5 inches of precipitation, including 6 inches of wet snow.

The event was a decent one but was focused maily on ski country in the west. The Watertown area did receive a major fall and it did have a high impact on road traffic on the day before Thanksgiving. It therefore earns three *** stars.

Here are some representative reports. 

Off of Lake Erie...

Location Snowfall
Perrysburg 15 inches
Colden 12 inches
Ellicottville 12 inches
Warsaw 12 inches
S. Dayton 11 inches
Jamsetown 9 inches
East Aurora 7 inches
Olean 5 inches

Off of Lake Ontario...

Location Snowfall
Carthage 18 inches
Black River 15 inches
Watertown 10-14 inches
Adams 12-20 inches
Redfield 10 inches
Highmarket 10 inches
Oswego 5-7 inches


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