Average Seasonal Snowfall Over the
Eastern Great Lakes Region
You can clearly see the snowbelts to the lee of Lakes Erie and Ontario
on the map. To the east of Lake Erie, annual snowfall exceeds
150 inches, which is great news for the numerous ski resorts south of
Buffalo, NY. The area east of Lake Ontario however is the "snow capital"
of the east. The higher elevations between Watertown and Syracuse,
commonly known as the Tug Hill Plateau, receives of more than 200 inches
a year. In fact, the town of Hooker, located in Lewis county, recorded
466 inches of snow during the winter of 1976-77! It is no coincidence
that the greatest snowfall also occurs across the highest elevations to
the lee of the lakes. Orographic features tend to enhance snowfall
rates by providing additional lift as the air crosses the region.
In contrast to the tremendous snowfall amounts to the lee of the lakes
is the lack of snow parts of Niagara and Orleans counties which are located
to the north of Buffalo. This area does not normally get much snow
off Lake Erie or Lake Ontario, mainly because it is not downwind
of the longer fetch across each body of water.
The wide range of snowfall across Western and Central New York points
out the tremendous challenge that faces the operational forecaster.
In Erie county, including the city of Buffalo, annual snowfall ranges from
less than 80 inches to more than 160 inches over a 15 mile wide area that
is inhabited by nearly 500,000 people!