LAKE EFFECT STORM "EGRET"
March 10-11, 2002
Lake Flake Scale: ** 2 Flakes
Maximum Snowfall: Lk.
Erie: 8" (Warsaw); Lk. Ontario:11" (W. Monroe).
Duration: 36 Hours +/-
Prime Feature: Unseasonal nature, very strong winds, severe blowing/drifting.
Another unusually late lake effect storm raked western and central New York March 10 and 11. This episode was only marginal in regards to snowfall amounts, but the very strong winds caused whiteout conditions and resulted in many road closures on Sunday morning (10th) well south of Buffalo.
This event evolved following a vicious frontal passage during the evening of March 9. This was a cold front trailing a very deep (28.6 inch) low moving over northern Ontario into Quebec. The temperature change with the front was startling...from 70 degree record warmth on Saturday afternoon (9th) to a 30 degree temperature drop in an hour Saturday evening. Damaging winds followed the front across the entire region. The cold air swept across Lake Erie and initiated snowbands during the wee hours of 10th. These bands actually started in the Buffalo area and extended to Rochester for a few hours around daybreak before settling south during the day. They became rather cellular in nature by midday and afternoon due to the mixing from the March sun. The activity off Erie weakened and dissipated during Sunday evening. Amounts were generally 3 to 7 inches...but 30-50 mph winds on Sunday created very hazardous conditions with extensive blowing and drifting and some road closures.
East of Lake Ontario...the activity was slower getting organized...generally 2 to 4 inches fell over Lewis and northern Oswego counties during Sunday afternoon...but the activity consolidated into a single band Sunday evening over Oswego county and continued overnight and early Monday (11th) before drifting north and dissipating by early afternoon. 6 to 10 inches fell over much of central and southern Oswego county.
The event featured 20C delta-tís, little shear, very high inversion levels and 850 mb winds of 60 kts at first. This allowed the initial Erie bands to extend to Eastern Monroe and western Wayne counties for a time Sunday morning.
Overall...the event was marginal in amounts but did feature serious driving conditions for a time. It was also out of season. It earns a rating of (**) two stars.