Why Buffalo is getting 3+ feet of snow

Wind over warm lake waters to blame for heavy snowfall

Snowfall map from our Buffalo sister station, WIVB-TV.

(WWLP) – The shores of the Great Lakes are getting whacked with heavy snow. Places like Buffalo, New York and Erie, Pennsylvania have already received feet of “lake effect” snow. This phenomenon generally effects only the areas close to the Great Lakes, but this is not always the case.

Lake effect snow occurs when cold winds blow over the comparatively warmer lake waters, which right now are in the upper 40s. That temperature difference creates instability, forming bands of snow which land on top of the towns and cities in the path of those bands.

The snow continues in areas east of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, where some areas could pick up more than three feet of snow by Wednesday.

Lisa Rose of Springfield told 22News that she is happy this is not happening here.

Unfortunately for them it must be horrible, but right here I’m enjoying this just the way it is. We don’t seem to have that, and the older I get, I guess the more I appreciate having it that way.

I-90 in NY
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The southern suburbs of Buffalo may expect to see even more than three feet of snow; our sister station WIVB-TV forecasts that some areas could see up to 60 inches- five feet! Because these bands of heavy snow are so narrow, though, areas that are less than 50 miles away, such as the suburbs north of Niagara Falls, have seen little to no snow at all.

Western Massachusetts is not always immune from lake effect snow. If the lake effect snow gets blown from a northwest wind, we can sometimes get leftover snow showers or flurries in our region, especially the Berkshires, though they’re never as intense as what they see in western New York, northern Ohio, or western Pennsylvania.


Snow Fall Totals for NY

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