Lake Effect Summary - January 2-5, 2011

Maximum Snowfall: Lake Erie 11" (Perrysburg); Lake Ontario 28" (Fulton) 

Duration: 84 hours +/- 

Prime Feature: Long lasting, varying flows, synoptically enhanced.

After a dramatic thaw and rain which cleared virtually all the snow from the ground during the New Year's holiday, winter returned for the first week of the New Year. A general westerly flow of increasingly colder air followed the cold frontal passage early on Sunday 2nd, eventually becoming cold enough to set off a lake effect plume Sunday afternoon, first across the Buffalo metro area and then settling southward Sunday night before weakening Monday afternoon. A few inches fell during this period. The activity redeveloped north of Buffalo Monday night as flow turned southwest ahead of an approaching clipper. This synoptic feature passed to our north Tuesday but served to moisten up the lower layers, so despite marginal temperatures aloft (850 mb of -10c), a few inches of snow fell east of Lake Erie Tuesday afternoon and night, with an additional boost on the Chautauqua ridge wed morning and midday before activity dissipated off Erie later Wednesday.

Over on Lake Ontario, a decent lake plume formed Sunday evening and continued into Monday across Oswego county with several inches. This band lifted north later Monday and Mon Night to near the St. Lawrence valley Tues morning before settling south again later Tuesday and became intense as it settled across Oswego county Tuesday night with up to a foot as it was aided by deepening synoptic moisture due to the clipper passing by to our north. The band then weakened but redeveloped again on Wednesday with several more inches across Oswego county. Wind shear and a lowering inversion finally shut down the activity overnight Wed Night.

3-4 day accumulations were less than a foot across western NY, but some portions of Oswego county reached two feet, most of it falling during two periods, late Tuesday and Tuesday night and during the day Wednesday.

The event did have three prime periods, Sunday afternoon to Monday afternoon. Monday night through Tuesday evening, and during Wednesday, but never totally ended so it was considered a single event.

This was a fairly long lasting event but its major impact was localized to Oswego county. Still, it was enough to earn three *** stars.

Here are some representative reports (4 day totals). 

Off Lake Erie - Location Snowfall
Perrysburg 11 inches
Randolph 10 inches
Warsaw 8 inches
Buffalo area 2 to 6 inches

Off Lake Ontario - Location Snowfall
Fulton 28 inches
Minetto 27 inches
Scriba 22 inches
Palermo 19 inches
Oswego 14 inches
Fair Haven 12 inches


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