Insane Lake Effect Snow

I know there are a couple lake effect snow chasers here... You might want to head towards the Buffalo area to catch some monster snows. BUF is calling for +5 inches per hour with 3 to +5 foot storm totals over some areas. If that happens, it's likely that you will be witnessing some thundersnow with perhaps record breaking snowfall rates.

VERY INTENSE LAKE SNOWS
SHOULD BE REALIZED DURING THIS TIME PERIOD WITH SNOWFALL RATES OF UP
TO 5 INCHES PER HOUR NOT OUT OF THE QUESTION. LAKE EFFECT SNOW
WARNING ALREADY ISSUED TO COVER THIS ENTIRE TIME PERIOD FROM TONIGHT
THROUGH SUNDAY NIGHT. LOCALIZED AMOUNTS OF 3 TO AS MUCH AS 5 FEET OR
EVEN MORE ARE LIKELY BY MONDAY MORNING.
 
I remember a few years ago during a LES event when snowfall rates were approaching 7 or 8 inches per hour. I would be awesome to see snow fall at that rate. Most I've seen is probably an inch - two per hour, but it didnt last an hour.
 
I just told myself I wasn't going on any more winter weather chase trips.
 
Now that would be quite a sight...always wanted to see snow coming down at that rate as long as I had a nice warm & dry place to bunker down to view it. I would estimate the heaviest snow rate I have observed was 3" per hour in thundersnow in St.Louis back in 1982.
 
Man that would be incredible to witness. I can't even imagine 5" per hour snowfall rates.

CAPE values are expected to exceed 1000j/kg Sunday, so thundersnow sure looks like a good bet.

I think it would be very interesting to set up just south of the band and try to get some pictures looking to the north. I would assume there'd be some pretty interesting looking low-topped thunderheads streaming quickly from west to east. Or at least very convective looking stratocumulus clouds.
 
Well boys, this one looks to be epic indeed. I'm putting together some loose plans to get myself into the heaviest bands that I can find, 90 minutes in either direction and I can be in snowfall that is rarely found anywhere else on the globe. It actually gets a little frightening when you find yourself in 5"/hr. The last time that happened to me, we were crawling along the 90, and snow was literally building up on the car and windshield faster than the wipers and myself could wipe it away, you feel like your getting buried. I'll keep you posted.
 
Bear in mind that typically these very high snowfall rates are comprised of very low liquid-water content snow. I've observed rates as high as 9-10" per hour (the total fell in less than an hour) in Oswego, NY. The show was incredibly "dry", about a 30-1 or 40-1 liquid water content, and easily swept away by a broom.
 
Wow those sounds like some impressive snowfall rates! I've experienced snowfall rates around 4"/h few times and it was amazing, so this would be even better, almost hard to imagine. Although I am not a big fan of winter weather, I'd love to be there this time to experience those snowfalls. You just have to love visibility less than 50-100m because of so intense snowing. It happens often here with strong orographic lifting close to the mountains like it was a week ago, some places got ~50" in 24h period so you can only imagine those snowfall rates!

I hope some of you will be there and will share images and videos with us. Good luck and stay safe!
 
As usual before deciding to go on a trip to document something like this, I weighed the pros and cons - the possible subjects to capture on video, the costs, and the dangers. I'm going to sit this one out.

This could be one of the most dangerous types of storms for a chaser to be out driving around in, possibly worse than a hurricane. Temperatures are going to be in the single digits, possibly dropping below zero at night. That is before wind chill.

With LE bands, hunkering down in a hotel brings with it a high chance of busting, as the LE bands are often narrow. It is hard to tell exactly where they will set up in advance to know where to get a hotel. Repositioning as the event is under way brings with it the danger of getting stranded. With the temperatures as low as they are expected to be, a car and camera equipment could have trouble operating. I-90 between Erie and Buffalo is very desolate, with few exits, gas stations or towns and long distances between exits. That is not a good place to get stuck with subzero temps/wind chills.

I'm sure the thundersnow and precip rates will be quite a sight, but I'm not willing to take the high risks that would be likely with an event like this. I'll wait until next October/November for the more benign thundersnow events.

Anyone chasing this, please take precautions, and bring plenty of winter survival gear.
 
Well, if any part of this storm was going to put out 5 or more inches an hour, its happening right now. If someone with a little more computer skill could save some screen shots it would be nice. Looks like just north of Watertown is really taking it on the chin, those returns are intense, couple that with strong winds and its a virtual blizzard, frequent lightning has been occurring throughout the evening as well.

http://radar.weather.gov/radar.php?rid=TYX&product=N0R&overlay=11101111&loop=yes

enjoy
 
I just have to go on the record and say that the whole subject of cloud-to-ground lightning with surface temperatures in the single digits and teens and a deep snowpack is pretty amazing. They probably even leave big holes/channels in the snow on the ground.
 
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The most I've ever witnessed was probably 4-6"/hour here on 1/22/05. It wasn't continuous at that rate, but it was near that rate for a good 2-2.5 hour period that night. From about 4 PM to midnight that night, we got 2'. That's the only LE event I've ever even been in during the seven years I've lived in NW IN.
 
It's been awhile since I've seen such healthy bands of lake effect snow, the extraordinarily cold air is really developing these bands. If anyone is on right now, I reccommend you look at the local radars from WNY. The atmosphere is extracting the thermal energy from the lakes with extreme efficiency. For some reason, seeing the whole hydrologic cycle evolving via active convection in the span of 200 miles is simply amazing.
 
Grand Rapids Michigan (my home town) since Feb 1, has picked
up 21.4 inches of lake-effect snowfall, thru 2/4/07 for the
season has 49.8 inches and now is only 0.5 inches below
normal for the season so far.

Mike
 
Amazing to see that Lake Ontario band still going. Would be cool to see an event-duration radar loop of that.
 
Amazing to see that Lake Ontario band still going. Would be cool to see an event-duration radar loop of that.

Those duration loops look awesome. The band just drifts back and forth like a windsock. You can pull up a 12 hour loop on UCAR's site, not quite long enough.
 
I was just thinking about running a week long loop, and how one might go about doing that, glad I'm not alone. This event ranks as one of the most intense Ontario events that I've ever witnessed. Official reports of up to 6 feet of snow are coming out, and by the time it's over, I'm sure a couple local spots will be up to 8 or so. And all of this glorious snow passes right by me, its not fair.
 
Not to burst the thundersnow bubble, but despite the lake effect bands being very intense as far as snow goes, their vertical depth was a little too shallow. There was some good glaciation with the bands, and some of the tops were getting down into the -35C range, but most of that was over land unfortunately.

The lightning maps were pretty bland, but there was the odd CG detected over the lake.

Fortunately as far as the wind was concerned, under the lake effect bands themselves the wind was either very light or just about nonexistent. Towards the edges of the bands the winds were quite strong and blustery creating blizzard like conditions.

In the multibanded squalls the situation was very different, the snow rates were not really that high but the cellular structure allowed the snow waves to drifted away from the cloud bases and the interaction between the mesoscale and synoptic environment created near continuous true blizzard conditions in some areas.

The key equipment for chasing such snow squalls is:

1) Windproof/water proof clothing

2) Snow shovels, ice melting gear (propane torch is great), chains, tow rope, several bottles of washer fluid and two 10 or 15 gallon containers filled with fuel. Also bring 3 or 4 lighters.

3) Food, candles for warmth, box cutters, and tool box with tools

4) GPS (you need to know you exact location if stuck) and high quality street mapping software either for the GPS or the laptop + paper maps!!!

*** GET A LIST OF NEARBY HOTELS, GAS STATIONS AND FOOD***

5) Cell phone with charger!!! <- most important I would argue!


That is all you really need! The worst thing you can do is drive into a ditch in the 0 visibility and get stuck! If you do this and cannot get out, call 911 and let them know. Just about every emergency department will accept GPS coordinates. You will probably have to wait until conditions improve or plows are allowed back on the roads before you can get a tow or ride.

Do not leave your vehicle unless you are no more than a 5 minute walk from shelter (gas station, etc).

Also be aware of road closures, if the road is closed you are not getting help!!! That is certain! You could also be fined in most cases for disobeying local authorities if caught.

uvs040504-038.jpg

This type of stuff is usually a common scene in bad squalls! Pick roads which are generally straight with no bends, put one wheel on the shoulder if you have to and use it as a guide to separate pavement from the ditch.

uvs040505-014.jpg


If visibility drops to 0, drive straight, let your foot off the gas and do not brake. Avoid sudden wheel motions and watch for oncoming headlights. Keep the wheel straight!

v5.jpg

When on busy routes, stay in the center lane. The traffic will usually occur in groups or blocks of vehicles. Stay away from these blocks at all cost! If you find yourself with a block of vehicles speed up and get out in front leaving a fair distance between yourself and the lead vehicle(s) or slow down and let the group pass you. This greatly reduces the chance of someone spinning out and hitting you, this also reduces the risk that you will be involved in a pileup.

Phone home often and give precise details.

BTW, the two images above were from some squalls in December of 04. The winds were about 50 - 55 mph, the temp was -8F (wind chill was near -40) and snow rates were peaking at around 4 inches per hour. The whiteouts were not the problem! I hit a deer on the way home and that kept me back 3 hours until I could get a tow out of the ditch and drive home (with no driver side headlight). My main concern was the temp and nightfall. Driving in 0 vis during the day is easy, doing that at night is a bad idea.

Another ENG news cameraman I know was chasing during similar conditions at night in 2005 and he found himself 4 miles down a snowmobile trail which he thought was still part of the highway! He called me on the phone and asked me to check the map. He encountered a snowmobiler on the trail who confirmed his fears LOL. Funny now, but I would hate to have to turn around on a snowmobile trail with a huge pickup truck!

ANOTHER key point to keep in mind is wet snow and signs! When I was chasing the October 12th storm effecting Buffalo and Ft.Erie, the big problem I ran into was that all the road signs were covered. I encountered many people going the wrong way on the highway and secondary streets. At times I was worried I may have been going the wrong direction but when I brushed off some signs I was relieved. The GPS never lied about what side of the road I was on fortunately! Some guy almost hit me going the wrong way on a one way exit ramp.

Chasing squalls can be really dangerous so be careful!


Warning from the squall event this weekend below--------------------

ENVIRONMENT CANADA HAS UPDATED A SEVERE WEATHER BULLETIN FOR
SOUTHERN ONTARIO AT 11:29 PM EST SUNDAY 4 FEBRUARY 2007.

A BLIZZARD WARNING IS CONTINUED FOR
SAUGEEN SHORES - KINCARDINE - SOUTHERN BRUCE COUNTY
BRUCE PENINSULA - SAUBLE BEACH - TOBERMORY
HANOVER - DUNDALK - SOUTHERN GREY COUNTY AND
OWEN SOUND - BLUE MOUNTAINS - NORTHERN GREY COUNTY.

LOCAL BLIZZARD CONDITIONS TONIGHT ESPECIALLY NEAR THE LAKE HURON SHORELINE AND OVER HIGHER GROUND.

THIS IS A WARNING THAT BLIZZARD CONDITIONS ARE IMMINENT OR OCCURRING IN THESE REGIONS. MONITOR WEATHER CONDITIONS..LISTEN FOR UPDATED STATEMENTS.

A SNOWSQUALL WARNING IS CONTINUED FOR
....

A WIND CHILL WARNING IS CONTINUED FOR
....
WIND CHILL VALUES OF MINUS 30 EXPECTED ACROSS ALL OF SOUTHERN ONTARIO TONIGHT AND VALUES NEAR MINUS 40 OVER PORTIONS OF EASTERN ONTARIO TONIGHT.

THIS IS A WARNING THAT EXTREME WIND CHILL CONDITIONS ARE IMMINENT OR OCCURRING IN THESE REGIONS. MONITOR WEATHER CONDITIONS..LISTEN FOR UPDATED STATEMENTS.

A WIND WARNING IS CONTINUED FOR
PICTON - SANDBANKS PARK.

LOCAL WHITEOUT CONDITIONS ARE LIKELY OVER PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY THIS AFTERNOON DUE TO SQUALLS AND HIGH WINDS.

THIS IS A WARNING THAT DAMAGING WINDS ARE IMMINENT OR OCCURRING IN THESE REGIONS. MONITOR WEATHER CONDITIONS..LISTEN FOR UPDATED STATEMENTS.

---------------------------------------------------------------------
==DISCUSSION==

EXTREMELY COLD ARCTIC AIR HAS FLOODED OVER THE GREAT LAKES BASIN.

A SNOW SQUALL OVER LAKE ONTARIO IS GRAZING PICTON - SANDBANKS PARK. FURTHER AMOUNTS OF UP TO 10 CENTIMETRES CAN BE EXPECTED TONIGHT BEFORE THE SQUALL DRIFTS SOUTHWARD. WINDS AS HIGH AS 70 GUSTING TO 90 KM/H ACCOMPANY THE SQUALLS GIVING WHITEOUT CONDITIONS AND NEAR BLIZZARD CONDITIONS.

THE WEST TO NORTHWESTERLY FLOW OFF LAKE HURON AND GEORGIAN BAY IS GENERATING NUMEROUS SNOWSQUALLS AFFECTING AREAS TO THE EAST OF GEORGIAN BAY AND LAKE HURON. THERE ARE TWO MAIN SNOWSQUALLS. ONE IS AFFECTING THE AREAS FROM WIARTON TO JUST NORTH OF WASAGA BEACH TO JUST WEST OF LINDSAY WITH LOCAL SNOWFALL RATES NEAR 5 CENTIMETRES PER HOUR LIKELY. THIS SQUALL IS BEGINNING TO SHIFT AND REORGANIZE ITSELF AS THE FLOW BEGINS TO SHIFT MORE NORTHWESTERLY. THE SECOND SNOWSQUALL IS COMING ONSHORE NEAR GODERICH WITH SNOWFALL RATES IN THE 2 TO 5 CENTIMETRES PER HOUR RANGE.

SNOW SQUALLS ARE EXPECTED TO INTENSIFY OVERNIGHT WITH SNOWFALL RATES INCREASING INTO THE 5 TO 10 CENTIMETRES PER HOUR RANGE. THE MAIN SNOW SQUALL WILL CONTINUE TO DRIFT SOUTHWARD TO AFFECT THE BARRIE AREA OVERNIGHT. SNOWFALL AMOUNTS IN THE 20 TO 40 CENTIMETRES RANGE CAN BE EXPECTED TONIGHT IN SOME LOCALITIES ALONG WITH BLIZZARD CONDITIONS AS THE MERCURY DROPS. STRONG WESTERLY WINDS AND VERY COLD TEMPERATURES WILL CONTINUE TO GIVE BLIZZARD CONDITIONS NEAR THE HEAVIEST SQUALLS AND ESPECIALLY IN THE ONSHORE FLOW OFF LAKE HURON.

EXTREME CAUTION IS ADVISED AS TRAVEL WILL BE VERY HAZARDOUS IN THE WARNED AREAS DUE TO LOCAL WHITEOUT AND BLIZZARD CONDITIONS IN FALLING AND BLOWING SNOW. ADDITIONAL BLIZZARD WARNINGS MAY BE ISSUED LATER TONIGHT OVER SOME LOCALITIES AS CONDITIONS WARRANT.

INCREASINGLY COLD AIR CONTINUES TO FLOOD ACROSS SOUTHERN AND EASTERN ONTARIO. LOW TEMPERATURES COMBINED WITH WESTERLY WINDS GUSTING TO 50 OR 60 KM/H WILL CAUSE WIND CHILL VALUES TO DROP TO NEAR MINUS 30 TONIGHT OVER ALL OF SOUTHERN ONTARIO. WIND CHILLS VALUES IN THE MINUS NEAR MINUS 40 CAN BE EXPECTED OVER MUCH OF EASTERN ONTARIO TONIGHT.

ENVIRONMENT CANADA WILL CONTINUE TO MONITOR THIS EXTREME WEATHER EVENT CLOSELY.

PLEASE REFER TO THE LATEST PUBLIC FORECASTS FOR FURTHER DETAILS.

ONT_composite_cappi_loop.gif
http://www.vaughanweather.com/winter/02_05_07/070205144005.gif
http://www.vaughanweather.com/winter/02_05_07/WBI_site_cappi_single.gif
http://www.vaughanweather.com/winter/02_05_07/WKR_site_cappi_loop.gif
 
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ANOTHER key point to keep in mind is wet snow and signs!
Lake effect snow is rarely wet, and typically has a very low liquid water content. But it does tend to stick to a lot of things. This is because the fine dry snow tends to be electrostatically charged and is very "adhesive".

This is from my 4 years experience with LES in Oswego NY while attending SUNY, and learning from the lake-effect snow guru, Robert Sykes.
 
Lake effect snow is rarely wet, and typically has a very low liquid water content. But it does tend to stick to a lot of things. This is because the fine dry snow tends to be electrostatically charged and is very "adhesive".

This is from my 4 years experience with LES in Oswego NY while attending SUNY, and learning from the lake-effect snow guru, Robert Sykes.

Very true, only the early season events tend to be wet. During the duration of the Buffalo squall in October, the temperature hovered around freezing at the sfc. The CTWL station indicated a 6:1 snow ratio, and KBUF indicated a 6:1 ratio until about 0700 Z where it varies between 8:1 and 10:1 but of course by then, most signs had a good 3 inches of accumulation of on both sides, the top and in some cases the bottom haha.

The snow ratios from these latest squalls appear to be anywhere from 12:1 to 15:1 across multiple stations. It is interesting; the stations on the fringe of many squalls had a lower ratio than those directly under. I assume it is from the wind breaking up the dendrites along the edges into irregulars or simply there being more hexagonals and columns.
 
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110 inches and couting:

N.Y. sees 110 inches of snow in 7 days
2007/2

By JOHN KEKIS, Associated Press Writer 15 minutes ago

PARISH, N.Y. - With more than 8 feet of snow already coating the ground, it wasn‘t good news for this winter-weary region when the blue sky turned gray Saturday, signaling another intense snow squall was about to dump some more.

Persistent bands of lake-effect snow squalls fed by moisture from Lake Ontario have been swinging up and down this part of central New York along the lake‘s eastern shore since last Sunday.

The National Weather Service said Parish — about 25 miles northeast of Syracuse — reached a milestone early Saturday with 100 inches of snow during the past seven days. Late Saturday, the total had risen to 110 inches. Unofficial reports pegged totals at 123 inches in Orwell and 131 in Redfield, but those measurements include snow from another storm a couple of days before the current weather system. All three towns are in Oswego County.

"That‘s all we need," Mike Avery said as he took a brief break from loading dump trucks with snow to be hauled to a pile outside town. "It‘s getting monotonous."

"You can‘t stop or you‘re done," said Dan Hojnacki, 23, of Syracuse, after he ground to a halt in a field. "I never got stuck until today, and I‘ve been snowmobiling for 10 years."

The state transportation department said 125 workers from elsewhere in the state had been sent in with snow equipment to help.

The hamlet of Hooker, near the boundaries of Jefferson, Lewis, and Oswego counties, holds the state‘s one-year record with 466.9 inches, about 39 feet, in the winter of 1976-77.

"Gosh, three weeks ago there was green on the ground. We got spoiled," Parish Mayor Leon Heagle said. "This just came fast. This is not normal. God, we can‘t catch a break. I feel like getting right in the car and driving south, but I‘d probably get in trouble."

http://www.cfnews13.com/News/National/2007/2/10/n.y._sees_110_inches_of_snow_in_7_days.html
 
Some good... ugh decent video is starting to appear on the net.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LAAx_H_dmZI <- pretty boring

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0NnZMahm1nw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMrOkD5kOnM <- really boring!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cfmNgQH2nm8 <- awesome timelapse!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aei0_fP6WdU <- video slideshow with cool video at 1:05

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLUE2ruP6sY <- Hamburg, NY

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MO2tcGE-fSI <- Trip to the store? LOL

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1N99WNTF_8 <- This is a good video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DHz0hlvpODY <- decent

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qm-3GcPZaOM <- not too bad

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-KHiKurzsws <- this one is pretty cool, some amazing stuff around 2:06

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ATSmjlGIemc <- gas station

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jvF2S9mscdM <- more lake effect

I am sure I missed some video, so keep looking.
 
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