Lake Effect Summary - February 24-25, 2012

Maximum Snowfall (Synoptic and Lake Effect): Lake Erie 17.5" (Warsaw); Lake Ontario 5.2" (Pittsford)

Duration: 24hours +/-

Prime Feature: Upstream Connections on Northwest flow.

For this event, a strong cold front crossed the region on Friday with strong winds that was followed by a colder northwest wind across the central and eastern Great Lakes. Lake effect snow started Friday evening, though a yet still strong boundary layer wind limited resident time over Lake Erie with minimal lake effect snow accumulating Friday evening across Western New York. Synoptic rain and snow fell across areas east of Lake Ontario through the night Friday before the air mass cooled to a point where lake effect snow was supported.

Saturday morning a closed low at both 850 hPa, and 500 hPa was situated just north of Lake Ontario. A non amplified flow allowed this low to quickly move to northern New England by Saturday evening preventing a long duration lake effect event from forming.

Winds remained gusty through the day Saturday, and these speeds continued to limit residence time off the yet unfrozen Lake Erie and Lake Ontario leading to minimal lake effect snow. Bands of snow forming off Georgian Bay and Lake Huron proved to be beneficiary in adding to the snow totals across Western New York, and the Genesee Valley through the day on Saturday.

A band of snow off Georgian Bay developed over the Metro Rochester area Saturday morning with near white out conditions, though with the brevity of the band amounts were limited to 2 to 4 inches. With the aligned northwest flow bands of snow off Georgian Bay extended far inland across New York State, and a secondary trough dropping southward across Lake Ontario and New York state dropped a band of snow from the southern shoreline of Lake Ontario Saturday morning southward across Western New York and the Finger Lakes region through the remainder of the day.

The northwest flow minimized the lake effect snow over the Tug Hill region, though several inches fell throughout the day. Greater snow fell across southwestern New York State where bands of snow off both Lake Huron and Georgian Bay fell with inland upslope areas receiving 6 to 12 inches of snow, and the hills of Wyoming County receiving near a foot and a half. With the snow falling on the last Saturday in February little impact was seen on travel. Much of the snow ended through the afternoon hours, allowing for ease of evening travel. This event will earn two ** stars due to localized warning amounts on a weekend. Here are some representative reports. 

Off Lake Erie - Location


17.5  inches
West Valley 10.5 inches
Colden 8.2 inches
Portageville 7.8 inches
Dansville 6.7 inches

Off Lake Ontario - Location Snowfall


5.2 inches

Beaver Falls

4.0 inches


4.0 inches


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Page last modified: December 18, 2013
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