Lake Effect Summary - January 24-27, 2009

Maximum Snowfall: Lake Erie 3" (West Seneca); Lake Ontario 38" (Barnes Corners) 

Duration: 60 hours +/- 

Prime Feature: Good example of difference between nearly frozen Lake Erie and open Lake Ontario. Intense plume off Lake Ontario.

Arctic air following another cold front set off the Lake effect machine big time off Lake Ontario during Saturday evening 24th. A 240 flow set up intense bands across Jefferson county which dropped close to a foot of snow by Sunday morning in the Watertown area. The bands settled south into southern Jefferson and northern Lewis counties for much of Sunday, with rates of 2-3 inches per hour from Adams to Barnes Corners and Hooker. A weak trof passage and slight ridging disrupted the bands Sunday night but they still dropped several inches down into the Oswego area overnight into Monday morning. The activity rejuvenated for awhile Monday and lifted north into Jefferson County ahead of another subtle trof, but accumulations were minor due to the fast movement. The activity then weakened and broke up after the trof passage Monday night and pushed down into Oswego and even Wayne county for a time Tuesday morning before completely dissipating. The most intense period was the 18 hour period from late Saturday evening to late Sunday afternoon where up to 33" fell at Barnes Corners and 12-14" in the Watertown area.

The Lake Erie response was most interesting. Satellite views showed the Lake about 85-90% frozen with patchy open water north of Long Point. The flow was favorable for much of the time Sunday and Monday, and some limited lake effect did form, especially on Sunday, but maximum amounts were restricted to 1-3" just south of Buffalo. This was a good example of flow off a mainly frozen lake, much less Lake effect but not shutting it off completely.

This event was an intense one with significant accumulations east of lake Ontario including the Watertown area. It did fall mainly on the weekend with limited impact. Still, with the impressive totals it does earn three *** stars.

Here are some representative reports. 

Off of Lake Erie...

Location Snowfall
West Seneca 3 inches
Hamburg 3 inches

Off of Lake Ontario...

Location Snowfall
Barnes Corners 38 inches
Hooker 27 inches
Adams 24 inches
Watertown 12-16 inches
Oswego 11 inches
Lowville 6 inches


Local Climate Water & Weather Topics:
Current Hazards, Current Conditions, Radar, Satellite, Climate, Weather Safety, Contact Us

National Weather Service
Weather Forecast Office Buffalo
587 Aero Drive
Buffalo, N.Y. 14225-1405
(716)565-0204 or
(716)565-0802 Climate and Forecast recordings

Page last modified: December 18, 2013
Privacy Policy
About Us
Career Opportunities