Lake Effect Summary January 27-29, 2010

Maximum Snowfall: Lake Erie 12" (Buffalo SE); Lake Ontario 18" (Hooker) 

Duration: 60 hours +/- 

Prime Feature: Marginal multi-day event with frontal impact.

This event was split into three periods, none of which really had warning criteria amounts, but there was impact on consecutive morning commutes.

The first two "periods" were very similar and involved southwest flows ahead of approaching cold front/troughs and cold enough air ahead of these fronts to force response off both Lakes on the southwest flows. The first from about midnight to shortly after noon on Wed. 27th with general 2 to 5 inch amounts in the Buffalo area and just north, with 4 to 8 inches east of Lake Ontario on the Tug Hill to near Watertown. The bands moved fairly quickly so did not have a chance to drop much on any one spot.

Activity had just about ended before another area of general light snow moved across the Lower Lakes late Wed night followed by a sharper cold front. This snow was enhanced dramatically overnight into Thursday morning off Lake Erie on a southwest flow again, dropping 3-6 inches in the Buffalo area, and similar amounts in the Watertown area.

Finally, a more typical west northwest flow set up Thursday afternoon in the wake of the front with several strong but transitional bands with some upstream connections dropping across the northern counties and also upsloping across favored areas across the southern tier with a few inches in each case. Very strong gusty winds accompanied these bands and resulted in brief whiteout conditions. The afternoon commute in the Rochester area was seriously impacted. High pressure built in and lowered inversions later Friday.

All told, three day accumulations were not overly impressive, but did reach 8-12 inches across much of metro Buffalo and also Watertown. Isolated higher amounts were reported on the Tug Hill, and a few high elevations spots on the Chautauqua ridge caught over 8 inches as well. Metro Rochester generally 3 to 8 inches, but amounts were surprisingly modest southeast of Lake Ontario.

The event did have some significant impacts on the morning commutes in the Buffalo area on both Wed (27th) and Thurs (28th) and afternoon commute in the Rochester area on the 28th as the heaviest snows fell during those time periods.

This event was marginal but fairly unique and did have some significant rush hour impacts. It therefore earns one * star.

Here are some representative reports. 

Off of Lake Erie...

Location Snowfall
Buffalo SE 12 inches
Mayville 12 inches
Lancaster 11 inches
Alden 10 inches
North Tonawanda 10 inches
Buffalo AP 10 inches

Off of Lake Ontario...

Location Snowfall
Hooker 18 inches
Redfield 14 inches
Highmarket 11 inches
Harrisville 11 inches
Theresa 10 inches
Watertown 8 inches


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