Lake Effect Summary - January 16-17, 2009

Maximum Snowfall: Lake Erie 12" (Perrysburg); Lake Ontario 29" (Pulaski) 

Duration: 36 hours +/- 

Prime Feature: Intense plume off partially frozen Lake Erie. Large impact off Lake Ontario.

Arctic air following a frontal passage set off the lake effect machine once again early on Friday 16th. Initiall, the activity off Erie focused on the Chautauqua ridge on a west wind, with several inches Friday morning, but winds backed slightly during the midday and afternoon, and a decent lake plume lifted well to the north into Buffalo's South Towns and even up into central Erie county. Lake Erie had a large amount of ice but this apparently formed off some open water north of Long Point, so the 260 flow brought snows up into West Seneca and South Buffalo. There was a distinct boundary and sharp cut-off with sunshine over the city and airport and north. Over 6" fell in this narrow strip with plenty of blowing snow and near whiteout conditions just to the south of the city which snarled the evening rush hour. The activity weakened during the evening and lifted north across the Buffalo metro area and dropped a quick 1-3 inches early Saturday before dissipating.

Off Lake Ontario, the activity was stronger as ice was not a factor. Bands developed early Friday over northern Cayuga and southwest Oswego counties and gradually meandered northward during Friday and Friday night, with several intense bands setting up across the area from Pulaski to Watertown. This continued through much of Saturday before weakening during the afternoon in the Watertown area, but not before nearly two feet fell.

This event was a decent one with significant accumulations east of Lake Ontario including the Watertown area. It also had large impact on the immediate southern suburbs of Buffalo during the Friday afternoon commute. It therefore earns three *** stars.

Here are some representative reports. 

Off of Lake Erie...

Location Snowfall
Perrysburg 12 inches
Elma 10 inches
East Aurora 9 inches
Alden 7 inches
West Seneca 6 inches
Lancaster 6 inches

Off of Lake Ontario...

Location Snowfall
Pulaski 29 inches
Watertown 21 inches
Carthage 12 inches
Oswego 12 inches


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