Lake Effect Summary January 1-4, 2010

Maximum Snowfall: Lake Erie 31" (Mayville); Lake Ontario 42" (Fulton) 

Duration: 60 hours +/- 

Prime Feature: Hybrid rare long lasting northwest flow event. Near record totals off western Lake Ontario into the Niagara Frontier. Little impact/weekend.

Mother Nature wasted little time as the New Year and Decade began as western and central New York were treated to a complicated long duration snow event. A cold arctic airmass followed the passage of a cold front on New Year's Day and set off streamers off Lake Ontario on a northwest flow Friday night, all along the south shore of the Lake. Some narrow intense bands developed as well within a broad area of lake snows which extended about 15-20 miles south of the Lake. This activity continued through Saturday and then strengthened in place Saturday Night as a large area of moisture spiraled around a massive coastal storm off New England and crossed the region from northeast to southwest during Sunday. This added moisture to the atmosphere and lifted the inversion level. A general burst of moderate to heavy snow accompanied this synoptic feature as it dropped south and southwest across the entire region during Sunday, then finally the lake effect weakened and retreated to near the lakes again Sunday night into Monday morning but did not end completely.

This event was unique in many ways, most notably in the huge amounts off Lake Ontario back across much of the Niagara frontier, especially Niagara county and the Northern suburbs of Buffalo. A general one to two feet fell over two days, with up to 30 inches around Niagara Falls! Another area of very heavy snow focused on Wayne to Oswego county where two to three feet fell. The Rochester area caught a bit less, but still up to 18 inches near the Lake. The snows were very fluffy and settled quickly. Although Lake Ontario was the prime player in this event, Lake Erie produced some heavy snowbands across Chautauqua county which were enhanced from time to time by synoptic features dropping south across the area as well. Two feet or more fell near Chautauqua Lake from Mayville to Jamestown. There was a gap in all the heavy snow, just south of the Lake Ontario bands, mainly over the city of Buffalo and just south from Hamburg to West Seneca where only 4 to 8 inches fell, and this was mainly from the synoptic snow area dropping south across the area on Sunday.

Nuisance northwest flow snows will continue past the "ending" of this event, but significant accumulations have ended and we will call this "finished" at 7 am Monday 1/4.

This event was unique and long lasting with very heavy snowfall especially off Lake Ontario across Niagara and Orleans counties where they saw the heaviest accumulations in many years. It fell over the weekend though and was fluffy so caused only modest disruption. Still, with the excessive amounts, it earns three *** stars.

Here are some representative reports. 

Off of Lake Erie...

Location Snowfall
Mayville 31 inches
Jamestown 28 inches
Perrsyburg 26 inches

Off of Lake Ontario...

Location Snowfall
Fulton 42 inches
Lacona 38 inches
Marion 36 inches
Scriba 34 inches
Hannibal 32 inches
Niagara Falls 31 inches
Pulaski 30 inches
North Tonawanda 26 inches
Kent 26 inches
Williamson 26 inches
Lockport 24 inches
Oswego 22 inches
North Amherst 19 inches
Perry 16 inches
Tonawanda 14 inches
Rochester 9 to 18 inches (S to N)
Buffalo 4 to 8 inches


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