Lake Effect Summary - February 19-21, 2013

Maximum Snowfall: Lake Ontario 29" (Bennetts Bridge); Lake Erie 20" (Springville)

Duration: 36 hours +/-

Prime feature: Classic West-Northwest flow behind a cold front.

This lake effect event was your classic cold air advection across the Great Lake bodies of water, creating instability which fed lake effect snow bands. These snow bands fell downwind of the lakes on a west to northwest flow. Behind a cold front Tuesday gusty winds poured across the lakes, and inversion heights rose to between 6 and 8 thousand feet through Tuesday night and Wednesday. Moderate bands of lake effect snow developed Tuesday evening and continued through the night, settling southward across the typical snow belts south of Buffalo and Watertown. A deeper pool of moisture wrapping around the upper level low supplied additional moisture for these lake effect snow plumes, even though residence time over the lakes was limited with the gusty winds Tuesday night.

Lake Erie was largely covered with ice for this event, and the deeper pool of cold air poured over this lake, with -18 to -19C air flowing over the lake by Wednesday morning. With an upstream connection to Lake Huron, bands of lake effect snow brought over a foot of snow to the higher terrain of Ski County. With many multi-banded structures to the snow bands much of the higher terrain of Western New York saw at least several inches of snow.

Over Lake Ontario the airmass was not as cold, however a longer fetch over the ice-free lake and deeper ambient moisture brought a band of moderate to at times heavy snow. An upper level shortwave brought some enhanced general snow across the eastern Lake Ontario region Wednesday evening and even enhanced the lake effect snow band after the band showed signs of weakening earlier in the evening. Altogether two plus feet of snow fell across the western face of the Tug Hill.

Lake snows fell Tuesday night through Wednesday and did slow work day traffic. For the most part roads remained open through this event, with just a few accidents causing delays or brief road closures. Several reports of over a foot of snow downwind of Lake Erie, and over two feet of snow off Lake Ontario earns this event three *** stars.

Here are some representative reports. 

Off of Lake Erie...

Location Snowfall
Springville 20 inches
Perrysburg 15 inches
West Valley 12 inches
Warsaw 11.5 inches

Off of Lake Ontario...

Location Snowfall
Bennetts Bridge 29 inches
Redfield 24 inches
Highmarket 21.4 inches
Altmar 20 inches
Palermo 11.2 inches


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Page last modified: December 17, 2013
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