LAKE EFFECT STORM "GINKO"
December 22-23, 2000
Flake Scale: ***
Maximum Snowfall: Lk.Erie: (West Seneca) 14.5" ; Lk. Ont: (Hooker ) 24".
Duration: 30 Hours
Prime Feature: Meandering Bands, very dry snow, great for skiing!
Lake Effect Storm "Ginko" developed as some of the coldest air of the season crossed the Great Lakes. The event featured meandering snow bands that, due to the very cold air, produced a very dry and fluffy snowfall. The author can attest that it was fantastic for skiing and not that difficult to control for snow plow crews and those who had to shovel.
However, it did fall at rates of 2 inches an hour at times, and combined with brisk winds produced some very hazardous driving conditions.
This was the third lake effect in roughly a one week period of time as a deep polar vortex of eastern Canada continued to steer weather systems and reinforcing blasts of arctic air down across the region. The lakes continued to cool with Lake Erie dropping from 38 to 35 degrees over the 2-day period and Lake Ontario cooling from 40 to 36 degrees, but still were relatively warm enough to maintain a flux of heat and moisture to the overriding arctic airmass, resulting in the heavy snows.
The activity began off Lake Erie during the early morning hours of the 22nd as a cold front crossed the region. The band set over the towns just south of Buffalo. Schools were closed in Orchard Park and West Seneca as 4 to 7 inches of fluffy snow fell during the morning. By afternoon the band lifted north into the city and adjacent suburbs, producing from 2 inches in the northern part of the city to 10 inches in South Buffalo. Off Lake Ontario the snow developed during the mid to late morning but did not take on as much of a banded configuration at the start. Instead, there seemed to be tremendous orographic enhancement. By afternoon however, the precipitation did become more banded and by 2PM as much as 10 inches piled up over Hooker. A wave developed on the band and swung it north to Watertown for a brief time before settling south of Jefferson county.
Over the next 24 hours the bands settled south on both lakes on a 270 to 280 degree axis. The Lake Erie band drifted north across the city of Buffalo for one more time on the early afternoon of the 23rd before dissipating well to the north of the city. The Ontario band stayed across Oswego county for the most part, but the Montague radar showed a northward extension of the band, possibly due to orographic lift, across western Lewis county, and that was the reason for a double snowfall max on the maps.
This band produced a max of 2 feet of snow and did have some affect on heavily populated areas, but was also quite easy to control. Therefore it earns 3-flakes (***).
LAKE EFFECT STORM "EUCALYPTUS"
December 17-18, 2000
Lake flake scale: ** 2 Stars
Maximum Snowfall: Lk.Erie: (Warsaw) 9" ; Lk. Ont: (Hooker ) 13.8".
Duration: 24 Hours
Prime Feature: Synoptic and orographic enhancement, strong winds.
Lake Effect Storm "Eucalyptus" featured a combination of rather weak lake snow bands but very strong post-cold frontal winds that made driving very hazardous and produced blowing and drifting snow.
The event occurred in the wake of a cold front that produced the second high wind event in western and central New York in a week. Winds gusted as high as 53 mph in the Buffalo area and 64 mph in Watertown before the snowbands developed.
Most of the snow that occurred east of Lake Ontario was in large part due to orographic lift, as there was little indication of a well organized snowband throughout the night of the 17th. Off Lake Erie however, well aligned WSW flow produced a band that set up across the southern half of Erie and most of Wyoming counties late on the 17th and continued through the first half of the 18th before weakening.
The tremendous winds that occurred through the night of the 17th produced whiteout conditions and covered north-south roadways with significant snow drifts. There were a few calls from plow drivers that indicated "it was tough to keep up with the snow drifting across roadways".
The storm stayed south of the populated regions around Buffalo and Watertown and relatively meager snowfall totals for true lake effect events. However, in areas that received the lake snows, strong winds combined to produce very dangerous driving conditions. For that reason the storm earns a flake rating of (**) two stars.