Lake Effect Summary - January 13-14, 2012

Maximum Snowfall: Lake Erie 34" (Perrysburg); Lake Ontario 18" (Montague)

Duration: 30 hours +/-

Prime feature: Robust lake effect following synoptic snow.

A complex synoptic setup preludes this lake effect event with widespread disruptive snows across the region on Friday morning. A rare track for a deepening surface low over the Adirondack Mountains coupled with a westward extending surface trough brought snow across the region Friday ahead of a pool of much colder air that was held at bay across the Central Great Lakes. This pool of colder air reached Lake Erie Friday night and later Lake Ontario with bands of lake effect snow developing.

By Friday evening a robust band of lake effect snow off Lake Erie developed along and south of Route 20 dropping snow at rates up to 2 inches per hour. These bands of snow remained nearly stationary to start and with winds whipping upwards towards 40 mph, blizzard like conditions was experienced Friday evening. Off Lake Ontario lake effect snow waited till the overnight hours as the cold air continued to deepen. Snowfall rates up to 2 inches were experience across the Tug Hill region overnight as well. Temperatures at 850 mb dropped to around -16C by Saturday morning and with a northwest flow, lake effect snow continued to impact areas south and east of the eastern two Great Lakes.

The bulk of the lake snow fell overnight Friday night, centered off Lake Erie over the Chautauqua Ridge where a combined one to two feet of snow fell along the Chautauqua Ridge by daybreak. Inland up to a foot of fresh snow fell over central Wyoming County southeastward towards the western southern tier. Near the lakeshore, including the NYS Thruway little lake effect snow was seen.

Off Lake Ontario, combined snow totals neared a foot and a half on the Tug Hill region by Saturday morning. By daybreak weak bands of snow settled southward over areas southeast of Lake Ontario.

An upstream connection to Lake Huron and Georgian Bay maintained the lake snows downwind of Lake Erie Saturday morning with snowfall rates of an inch per hour. A light fluffy snow fell across much of the Niagara Frontier Saturday morning while several inches of snow off the longer fetch of Lake Ontario continued through the morning. Drier air advanced into the region through the day ending lake effect snow off both lakes later in the day.

This event will earn three *** stars due to the impact on travel Friday night with snow and blowing snow creating near blizzard conditions, though over lesser populated areas. Here are some representative reports. 

Off Lake Erie - Location


34 inches


20.5 inches


16 inches

Warsaw (hills)

15 inches

South Dayton

11 inches

Off Lake Ontario - Location Snowfall
Montague 18 inches
Copenhagen 17.8 inches
Redfield 17.5 inches
Fulton 14.8 inches
Theresa 10 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