Lake Effect Summary -  January 7-9, 2009

Maximum Snowfall: Lake Erie 28" (Sinclairville); Lake Ontario 11" (Volney) 

Duration: 48 hours +/- 

Prime Feature: Excellent Lake Huron connection. Well inland extent.

After a two week break in the lake-effect which featured more synoptic snows, heavy rains, flooding, strong winds and ice, cold air sweeping in behind a departing low re-ignited the lake effect machine once again during the afternoon of Wednesday January 7th. Wraparound snows evolved into bands of lake effect east of Lake Erie during the evening, then a strong Lake Huron band extended across Lake Erie as winds turned 290-300 and meandered across much of Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties during Thursday the 8th. Over a foot fell over higher elevations during the morning and midday hours. The activity extended unusually far south and east into the Olean and Wellsville areas at times. Wind shear increased later Thursday night and Friday morning and lighter winds broke up the connection from Huron and the activity weakened dramatically by early Friday with drier air advecting in, but strengthened a bit again during the afternoon and winds backed, with a few inches up into the Buffalo southtowns before shutting down completely Friday evening as the next synoptic system approached.

The activity off Ontario was much weaker and spread out. Wraparound snows Wednesday night evolved into west to northwest bands of lake effect Thursday and Thursday night, but shear and dry air inhibited anything extreme. As on Erie, all activity shut down late Friday due to increasing shear and light winds.

This event was long lasting and with an upper lake connection. It had impressive snow totals off Lake Erie and was great for the ski areas, but affected little population. It therefore earns a strong three *** stars.

Here are some representative reports. 

Off of Lake Erie...

Location Snowfall
Sinclairville 28 inches
Ellicottville 27 inches
Ashville 25 inches
Randolph 20 inches
Jamestown 14 inches
Olean 8 inches

Off of Lake Ontario...

Location Snowfall
Volney 11 inches
Highmarket 10 inches
Hooker 10 inches
Oswego 7 inches


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