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Historic Christmas Lake Effect Blizzard


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from Google

The average depth of Lake Erie is only about 62 feet (210 feet, maximum).

Lake Huron measures 206 miles across and 183 miles north to south, with an average depth of 195 feet

Lake Michigan is approximately 118 miles wide and 307 miles long. Averaging 279 feet in depth

Lake Ontario is similar to Lake Erie in length and breadth. Yet with its greater average depth (approximately 283 feet)

Lake Superior with an average depth approaching 500 feet, Superior also is the coldest and deepest (1,332 feet) of the Great Lakes




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10 hours ago, MJO812 said:

Is this unusual for Buffalo ?

What lake takes long to freeze over during the winter ?

Our biggest LES events come early in the season before the lake freezes. Our end of the lake takes the longest to freeze as its the deepest. On average it freezes by 3rd week of January, but with the recent warm winters it rarely completely freezes over now. In terms of this season being rare, I don't think we have anything on record like it. We've had an 80" event, a 22" event, and now this one which could be the worst yet. 

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True blizzard conditions are rare in Western NY, and it`s unusual to
even consider blizzard headlines this far in advance of a storm.
However, the magnitude of this storm justifies this consideration.
The worst conditions will be downwind of the lakes, particularly
Lake Erie where the southwest winds will be the strongest. Expect
the combination of lake effect snow and very strong winds to produce
Blizzard conditions across the Niagara Frontier starting Friday
afternoon and lasting into Saturday night. Confidence is a bit
lower, but near blizzard conditions are also possible in Jefferson
County, and counties adjacent to the Blizzard Warning.

A trough will dig across the Mississippi Valley, becoming negatively
tilted with an intense surface low developing across Southern
Ontario province on Friday. Surface pressure drops rapidly (about 20
mb in only 12 hours) to around 970mb, with the 00Z GFS/ECMWF
intensifying the low to around 963mb. The low will pivot across
southern Quebec as it becomes vertically stacked Friday night and
Saturday. A strong cold front will move across the region Friday as
this low rapidly intensifies.

Daybreak Friday, a sharp Arctic front tied to the deepening low over
the central Great Lakes will be entering far western NY. The front
will quickly make it to eastern Lake Ontario region by early
afternoon. Along the front, expect an abrupt change from rain to
snow with intensity increased due to frontogenesis along the front.
An inch or two of snow could occur then conditions will worsen as
temps free fall into the teens by afternoon and single digits west
and teens east by nightfall. Expect a rapid freeze of the snow and
any slush, leading to icy conditions. Strong gusty winds will also
arrive with the front, with cold air advection allowing winds aloft
to readily mix to the surface. Expect wind gusts of 60 to 70 mph
near Lake Erie, from the Niagara Frontier to Monroe county, to
Jefferson County with gusts to 50 mph inland Friday and Friday night.

It`s important to note that multiple hazards are addressed in the
WSW product, including the strong winds and dangerously cold wind
chills. In addition to upgrading the remaining watches to a Winter
Storm Warning, also issued a winter weather advisory for the snow
and flash freeze in addition to the wind related hazards. Blowing
snow will quickly become an issue, due to the strong winds and very
dry snow.

Moving into Friday night through Saturday morning, this is when the
worst conditions in terms of a combined hazard from heavy snow,
blowing snow, and localized blizzard conditions will occur. Travel
will be very difficult, but more likely impossible where the
heaviest snow and strongest winds are occurring concurrently. Winds
will be very strong on Friday night in the mixed layer that are even
shown to exceed 70 kts at times. This is the period when wind damage
will potentially be the highest and power outages could become
widespread. This is a real concern especially with the cold temps
expected for the holiday weekend.

A note about the coverage of snow Friday night into Saturday
morning. Given such strong winds, do not anticipate a classic
narrower plume of heavy lake enhanced snow for this time frame.
Instead a more widespread footprint to the moderate to heavy snow is
more likely as the strong winds will spray the heaviest snow around
and cause locations of heaviest snow to vary based on where
localized convergence occurs which will be hard to tell given such
strong winds. That and lower SLRs due to such strong winds
(dendrites will be shattered to pieces leaving a more fine snow
type) is not good news though as even where snow is not heavy, there
will be a more widespread impact with blowing, drifting snow leading
to whiteout conditions. Although storm totals will be significantly
more, expect amounts in the 6 to 12 inch range across the Niagara
Frontier through daybreak Saturday, although this will be more than
enough to result in significant issues.

A very tight surface pressure gradient will remain in place across
our forecast area on the day before Christmas, so while the winds
should diminish as bit by way of a weaker LLJ especially later in
the day, they will still be strong enough to possibly cause issues
and certainly to support continued at least areas of blowing snow.
The more efficient (fluffy) snowfall is expected Saturday through
Sunday. Winds will continue to gradually diminish through Sunday,
with the impacts of blowing snow also diminishing. Because blowing
snow impacts will diminish the Blizzard Warning is set to expire
Sunday morning, but there still will be lake effect snow and other
impacts lasting through Sunday and into Sunday night off Lake Erie

There is still some uncertainty in band location, with the NAM (and
related high res guidance) a bit more southerly in its wind
direction than GFS/RGEM/ECMWF guidance. Favoring the latter guidance
due to a more realistic evolution of the surface low. In general
expected lake snows off Lake Erie to shift southward on Sunday. Lake
snows will continue into Sunday night, with the Lake Erie band
shifting back north and weakening late in the night.

Storm total snow amounts will be almost entirely from lake effect
snow, with 1 to 3 feet of snow expected northeast of Lake Erie and
Ontario. Amounts will drop off dramatically outside of the band,
although lake snow will carry quite far inland due to the strong
winds, with some upslope enhancement across higher terrain.

It will be quite cold with Saturdays highs ranging from the single
digits over the Srn Tier to the teens and low 20s elsewhere
resulting wind chills falling to as low as 10 to 25 degrees below
zero. Again, this is why any power outages that last for longer
period of time could have bigger impact. Christmas Day will remain
cold with highs only in the teens to low 20s and winds to 30 mph
generating wind chills of 10 below to just a few degrees abv zero.

Lake effect snow will be ongoing off both Lake Erie and Lake Ontario
Monday morning. Lake band orientation probably not too different
than Sunday and Sunday night, with the bulk of the lake snow near
and just south of the Buffalo and Watertown areas. Intensity of the
lake bands a bit uncertain with increasing shear as surface ridging
sliding to our south starts to build in.

Environment becoming increasingly less favorable for lake effect
Tuesday and Wednesday. High pressure to our south slides to the east
allowing a warmer return flow to set up. This will bring an end to
our lake effect snow, with less frigid conditions expected by mid
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Rain before 8am, then snow. The snow could be heavy at times. Widespread blowing snow after 10am. Temperature falling to around 11 by 3pm. Wind chill values as low as -15. Very windy, with a southwest wind 13 to 23 mph increasing to 31 to 41 mph. Winds could gust as high as 60 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow accumulation of 3 to 5 inches possible.
Friday Night
Snow. The snow could be heavy at times. Widespread blowing snow. Low around 13. Wind chill values as low as -10. Very windy, with a southwest wind 39 to 44 mph, with gusts as high as 70 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow accumulation of 3 to 7 inches possible.
Snow. The snow could be heavy at times. Widespread blowing snow. High near 18. Windy, with a southwest wind 32 to 36 mph, with gusts as high as 55 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%.
Saturday Night
Snow. The snow could be heavy at times. Widespread blowing snow. Low around 15. Windy. Chance of precipitation is 100%.
Christmas Day
Snow. High near 22. Windy. Chance of precipitation is 90%.
Sunday Night
Snow showers likely, mainly after 1am. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 15. Breezy. Chance of precipitation is 70%.
A chance of snow showers. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 24. Chance of precipitation is 50%.
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2 minutes ago, Roger Smith said:

No earthquake warning? With all this air and water moving around, the crust will be under stress, would expect a minor earthquake in NY or PA tomorrow or Saturday. Also new moon on 23rd, so a bit of additional tidal force. 

Earthquake warnings don't exist.

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3 hours ago, BuffaloWeather said:

They evacuated those. I’ll be there tomorrow though. 

Be safe man and everyone else lurking as I am not even in Buffalo and nerves are shot.  

Maybe having kids who are sick gives some perspective…I dunno.  Feel like there is almost shocking disconnect with some people, like many have zero clue what’s about to happen.  They closed schools tomorrow around Cuse burbs and just pray everyone is safe.

Happy hunting!

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