LAKE EFFECT STORM "FALCON"
March 21-23, 2002
Lake Flake Scale: *** 3 Flakes
Maximum Snowfall: Lk. Erie:
14" (S.Dayton); Lk. Ontario: 28" (N.Osceola).
Duration: 42 Hours +/-
Prime Feature: Unseasonal nature, very unstable, strong winds.
Yet another late season lake effect storm affected western and central New York on March 21-23...the latest named storm in the eight years of records. The episode started a bit slowly, but eventually dropped substantial snows in the usual snowbelt areas off both lakes. Over two feet fell on part of the Tug Hill, and over a foot in the high ground near the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus-Erie county border.
This event began following a sharp cold frontal passage on Thursday the 21st...right at the start of spring. There was strong subsidence and drying behind the front...so activity was meager through Thursday evening. But two distinct bands formed on the 320 wind and dropped southeast...one into Wayne county east of Rochester...and the other dropped all the way to Buffalo airport and east suburbs. Locally 3-5" fell in a couple hours in these areas!
The main activity off our lakes began toward Friday morning and continued through Friday as winds backed to 280 or so. A very intense band rolled across Oswego and southern Lewis Counties...lifting north a bit Saturday evening into southern Jefferson and Lewis counties. Off Erie...activity was somewhat cellular during the day Friday but intensified Friday evening. The event was at its peak overnight Friday night and then began to weaken toward daybreak Saturday (23rd) as winds backed and temps warmed. The remnants moved north across Buffalo area on Saturday morning with an inch or so, then cut off by afternoon due to warming. The same process evolved east of Lake Ontario...albeit a few hours later.
Overall...the event was impressive for such a late season one...and did exhibit the diurnal factor...especially off Erie...of cellular daytime vs organized overnight. It was intense enough off Ontario that it did hold together well even during the daylight hours there. It earns a rating of (***) three stars.