Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Buffalo Lake Effect Events: Oct 12-13, 2006 vs Current Event

I remember the October 2006 lake effect snow event well. I was sitting in the WJW FOX 8 weather center watching a band of snow moving parallel to the Lake Erie shoreline about 15-20 miles offshore near Ashtabula, Ohio.  The leading edge of the snow barreled through Buffalo, New York.

This is the only lake effect event comparable--when looking at the temperature parameters--to the current Buffalo event I can remember. It started on October 12, 2006 and finished the next day.

The Lake Erie water temperature was 62 degrees. The air aloft (5000 feet)--the key level for determining lake effect--was -8 celsius (or 17 degrees F).

The temperature difference: 45 degrees from the surface to 5000 feet.

Here were the 2 day totals:

In the current (November 18-19, 2014) event, the lake water temperature in the eastern basin of Lake Erie is between 50 and 54 degrees. The air aloft (5000 feet) was -18 celsius (or zero degrees F)! 

The temperature difference: 54 degrees from the surface to 5000 feet!

This eastern basin warm pocket fueled the snow development as the wind paralleled the shoreline before it made landfall south of Buffalo. The key has been the wind direction. The SW wind (now WSW) carried the arctic air directly over the ENTIRE warm pool of water. The fetch over the warm pocket was more than 100 miles! Normally in northern Ohio, the fetch is between 50 and 60 miles from Canada to Cleveland.

Notice the intensity and uniformity of the lake effect snow band compared to the "edgier, disjointed-looking" radar loop from the October 2006 snow event

November 18, 2014 Event

October 12-13, 2006 event
This type of cold in November (850mB temps at -18) has occurred a dozen times in Buffalo (upper air soundings) since 1950, the most recent was last year.
Snow forecast map from the National Weather Service office in Buffalo.

Snow totals as of mid evening Tuesday 11/18. Final snow totals coming later in the week.

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