Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Epic snowfall for western New York - little for Montreal

A quick shot of snow on L'Ile Perrot last night left about 5cm (2") on the ground. (ValleyWX)
Late last evening a weak trough of low pressure crossed the St. Lawrence Valley and for a brief period tapped into the Lake Ontario snow plume. The result was a quick 5cm (2 inches) of snow at my home on L'Ile Perrot between 9-11pm. Gusty winds accompanied the snow and with this mornings current temperature of -8C, it feels and looks like winter. A little less snow fell on most of the island of Montreal with more towards the US border. It will be partly sunny today but breezy and cold with a high of -3C. More light snow is forecast tonight before another shot of cold air to end the week. A warm up is on the horizon by the end of the weekend. More on that later.

The New York State Thruway south of Buffalo is impassable, clogged with 3-4 feet of snow. Travel in western New York on I-81 and I-90 is not possible for long stretches. (NY State Police Photo)
Western New York Snowstorm
Our weather is part of a bigger picture of record cold and early season snow across a wide chunk of North America. By now many of you have seen the wild pictures from western New York. Typically this area is very familiar with heavy snow but this lake effect event has been historic. In less than 24 hours over 50 inches of snow fell on the south-towns of Buffalo with 30-40 inches near and south of Watertown, New York. As is typical with lake effect snow, the bands are elongated but narrow, affecting 10 miles or so with the most intense snow. Such was the case on Tuesday with Lancaster, NY receiving 42 inches of snow while Buffalo Airport, just 3 miles away to the northwest, had only 3 inches. Where the snow has fallen it has been disabling with a state of emergency in effect and the National Guard called into action. Miles of the New York Thruway are closed, littered with abandoned and in some cases occupied cars. Police and fire have had to respond on snowmobiles and in some cases on foot. The storm has turned deadly with 5 fatalities reported as of this morning. The snow has lifted north into the Niagara and Fort Erie, Ontario region this morning and will slowly taper as a wind shift occurs. It will however return on Thursday as a fresh batch of arctic air races across the open waters of Lakes Erie and Ontario as well as Huron.

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