Tuesday, November 18, 2014

New York Lake Effect Storm Is Beyond Incredible. Five Or More Feet?!?!

Just try driving down this section of the New York State
Thruway near Buffalo, N.Y. today.  
This is one for the record books out in western New York.

Snow in narrow lake effect bands is piling up to ridiculous levels as the weather pattern is just perfect to cause extreme lake effect snow.

How extreme? Some of the hardest hit areas just south of Buffalo has more than four feet of new snow since last evening, and are expecting total accumulations of up to five or even six feet by later tonight.

As of 4:30 p.m, the highest snow total from the lake effect storm is 51 inches near Cheektowaga, N.Y. 

That's just one part of Cheektowaga. Another section of the same community has only had about two inches of snow. So depending upon where you are in one town, you had somewhere between two inches and four feet. Unbelievable.

Via Twitter, Tara Schwab took this photo
of a dog who is going to have a
challenging walk in Lancaster, N.Y.  n
I wouldn't even be totally surprised if somebody exceeds the 82 inches of snow in a town south of Buffalo in December, 2001, considered the deepest lake effect snow on record for the Buffalo area

According to The Buffalo News, travel in these areas is impossible, cars are stranded. The New York State Thruway near Lackawanna is closed, and even firefighters and ambulances are having trouble getting to people in need of help.

The winds set up just right so that they blew from southwest to northeast along the entire length of Lake Erie. That allowed the air keep collecting and collecting moisture on a long journey across the lake.

Lake Erie water temperatures are well into the 40s. Not swimming conditions, but relatively warm. The air a few thousand feet above the lake is near 0 degrees.

The contrast allows for a lot of instability, helping to focus all the lake moisture into clouds and snow, which gets dumped onto the shore near and south of Buffalo.

Via Twitter, Mike Schnorr gives us a
photo of a car that's not going anywhere
anytime soon.  
The winds also blew almost in tandem with the length of Lake Ontario, but not quite as perfectly, giving areas near Watertown more than three feet of snow.

These lake effect bands are only maybe five miles wide. The trouble is, they largely stayed in one spot, not varying much north or south.

Areas just north of Buffalo pretty much missed out on the action. While chaos was happening amid several feet of snow in the southern metro areas, municipalities a little to the north of Buffalo were out collected autumn leaves, because there was no snow in the way.

Just reading statements and forecasts from the National Weather Service office in Buffalo gives you a sense of the total chaos:

"Intense Lake Effect Snow Will Continue To Impact the Southern Half of the Buffal Metro Area:

At 3:29 p.m EST, National Weather Service doppler radar indicated a lake effect snow band capable of producing snowfall rates of 4 inches per hour or more...and visibility near zero at times. The sharp northern edge of this lake effect snow band extends from South Buffalo to Depew and eastward towards Darien and Alexander.

The southern edge of the band is hugging the Chautauqua County shoreline then extending inland across far northern Chautauqua County, the Boston Hills and Wyoming County.

Travel within the most intense portion of this band from South Buffalo into the nearby southern and eastern suburbs is impossible. Local officials report all roads are impassable and clogged with snow and stuck vehicles. Do not venture out within this area. If you live north or south of the band of snow do not attempt to drive into the affected area. You will become trapped."

But wait! There's more! The lake effect snow is expected to continue into tonight, then redevelop Wednesday night and Thursday. Here's more nightmarish verbiage from the National Weather Service in Buffalo:  
From The Buffalo News: Visibility isn't so great
in the intense lake effect snow bands. Add caption

"Accumulations: Snowfall rates of 2 to 4 inches per hour in the most intense portion of the band. Storm totals will reach three to four feet in many areas south of a line from South Buffalo to Batavia. Local amounts of five to six feet from Lackawanna to Lancaster to Elma from the first storm ending on Wednesday.

Additional accumulations of up to two feet in the second storm late Wednesday night through Thursday night in persistent bands. The heaviest amounts may again focus on the Buffalo southtowns."

Yep. That's right. After this lake effect monster is done, they get another one Thursday. And just for fun, here's what the Tuesday afternoon forecast for a town south of Buffalo looked like. I like how nonchalant the "total daytime snow accumulation of 27 to 33 inches" reads:

"Snow with areas of blowing snow. The snow could be heavy at times. Some thunder is also possible. High near 23. Breezy, with a west wind around 24 mph, with gusts as high as 36 mph. Chance of precipitation 100 percent. Total daytime snow accumulation 27 to 33 inches possible.

They just get around to the 33 inches at the end of the forecast? The snow could be heavy at times. Ya think?!?!

Here's a stunning time lapse video of the snow band as seen from just north of where it was burying towns under feet of snow. Looks like a solid curtain of snow:

Here's a homeowner showing us the scene outside his West Seneca, N.Y. home:

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