LAKE EFFECT STORM "CARDINAL"
January 17-18, 2002
Lake Flake Scale: ** 2 Flakes
Lk. Ont.: 20" (Barnes Corners); Lk. Erie: 9" (Perrysburg).
Duration: 36 Hours +/-
Prime Feature: Gusty winds, westerly flow.
Lake effect Storm "Cardinal" was a fairly typical midwinter event which affected typical "snowbelt" areas off both lakes. It was not overly intense, long lasting or disruptive...but did drop some healthy snowfall amounts east of Lake Ontario. The event was more intense and organized off Ontario than Erie...but gusty winds aggravated the situation on the 18th across the western southern tier with considerable blowing and drifting snow resulting in very poor driving conditions.
The event evolved from a synoptic feature. Low pressure moved by to our north early on Thursday the 17th. A general 1 to 3 inches of wet snow fell across the area with enough milder air being drawn in for a brief change to rain near the Lakes. Colder air advected in behind the departing system during Thursday with disorganized elevation related lake enhanced snows developing in the afternoon off Lake Erie. The associated cold front was stronger east of Lake Ontario and dumped a quick 2 to 4 inches with thunder and lightning there. Lake snows became better organized Thursday evening over the Tug Hill.
The lake effect remained somewhat disorganized off Erie Thursday night but did consolidate into a single band as winds backed to 260 toward daybreak on Friday (18th) with the approach of a weak trof. The activity weakened and dropped south after the trof passed later Friday and dissipated Friday evening.
Off Ontario...the parameters were better...delta-t of 16c, less shear and more moisture. Also the dynamics of the trof were better. The lake effect consolidated into a single band over the Tug Thursday evening and then lifted north and stalled over Jefferson County Friday morning. After the trof passed...a single intense band dropped slowly south across the Tug during the afternoon and settled across Oswego County for several hours Friday evening before shutting down shortly after midnight as the inversion crashed.
Snowfall totals were over a foot across much of Lewis, southern Jefferson and northern Oswego counties...with 8-10 inches around Watertown and 4 to 8 inches over southern Oswego county. This was the first decent snowfall over Oswego County this season! Most of the snow fell within 12 hour periods here as the band was fairly migratory.
Off Erie...24 hour totals were in the 4 to 8 inch range...but the activity was spread out with no more than 6 inches in any 12 hour period. The snow edged up into Buffalo’s South Towns for its furthest northward extent.
Overall...the event was marginal and affected little population. It did create very poor driving conditions for awhile with gusty winds...so it earns a rating of (**) two stars.