Lake Effect Summary December 28-29, 2009

Maximum Snowfall: Lake Erie 11" (Alden-Millgrove); Lake Ontario 14" (Copenhagen) 

Duration: 36 hours +/- 

Prime Feature: Evolution from synoptic event, pre-frontal backing flow. Bad timing.

The third significant lake effect event of the 2009-10 season evolved from a general 2 to 4 inch synoptic event early on Monday 28th as a westerly flow of gradually colder air advected in behind the departing storm. The snow east of Lake Ontario gradually became lake enhanced and finally pure lake effect by later in the afternoon, while there was a brief break off Lake Erie early in the day before a pure lake effect band set up east of the Lake across southern Erie and Wyoming county during the morning.

This event then focused mainly in about an 8 hour period until a sharp arctic cold front swept across the region between 5 and 8 pm, disrupting the bands, and little set up after that as the flow was northwest and dry with little fetch. In the meantime, this brief period was very disruptive, especially in the Buffalo area, as the flow backed a bit more than expected ahead of the arctic front, allowing the band to lift north into the metro area for several hours during the afternoon, with whiteout conditions. 4 to 10 inches of snow fell in just a 4 to 6 hour period, again focused most heavily from south Buffalo to Elma and on up into Alden, very similar to the locations of the maximums in the Dec 10 storm (Amaryllis). Timing was everything as this had serious impacts on the afternoon drive commute. The Lake Ontario maxima extended from Watertown to Oswego with 6 to 12 inches, mainly Monday afternoon and evening.

Some limited activity redeveloped Tuesday on the northwest flow but only 1 to 3 inches fell, with a little more when winds backed to westerly again by late Tuesday as inversion levels lowered.

This event was relatively minor in regards to accumulation, but was very intense during a few hours during the mid and late afternoon of Monday, seriously impacting the Buffalo area commute. It therefore earns two ** stars.

Here are some representative reports. 

Off of Lake Erie...

Location Snowfall
Alden 11 inches
Glenwood 10 inches
West Seneca 9 inches
Orchard Park 8 inches
Elma 8 inches
Dunkirk 7 inches
Warsaw 7 inches
Buffalo 3 - 9 inches (north to south)

Off of Lake Ontario...

Location Snowfall
Copenhagen 14 inches
Beaver Falls 11 inches
Watertown 10 inches
Lacona 10 inches
Black River 8 inches
Scriba 7 inches
Carthage 7 inches
Palermo 7 inches


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