Up to 4 ft. of Snow Expected in Upstate New York

November 17th, 2014 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

UPDATE: 7:30 a.m. EST Nov. 18, 2014: Lancaster NY has already received 29 inches, another location southeast of Buffalo is reporting 32 inches on the ground. Thundersnow was reported at Buffalo last night, which is pretty rare for lake effect snow systems.

The severe cold just now entering the northeast U.S. is forecast to cause intense lake effect snow bands to form over Lake Erie and Lake Ontario late tonight through tomorrow night.

Areas impacted will be at the eastern ends of those lakes, mainly over upstate New York between Watertown and Oswego to the lee of Lake Ontario, and mainly south of Buffalo at the east end of Lake Erie.

The latest hi-res model forecast shows the areas of the heaviest snow accumulations, approaching 4 feet by Wednesday (click image for full size):

Total snow accumulations forecast by Wednesday evening, Nov. 19, 2014 (graphic courtesy of Weatherbell.com).

Total snow accumulations forecast by Wednesday evening, Nov. 19, 2014 (graphic courtesy of Weatherbell.com).

These forecast model calculations assume a 10:1 snow:water ratio, but lake effect snow is usually fluffier, leading to deeper snow. So I wouldn’t be surprised to see totals in excess of 4 feet by Wednesday.

Early winter lake effect snowstorms tend to be the heaviest, because the Great Lakes have not had time to cool off yet, and it is the relatively warmer water evaporating into the cold air that causes lake effect snow bands to form.

What causes lake effect snow? (from WeatherQuestions.com)

49 Responses to “Up to 4 ft. of Snow Expected in Upstate New York”

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  1. Molnya says:

    Four feet of snow was formerly no big deal in upstate New York. overnight snows of three to four feet depth at Syracuse University happened in the late 1950s- I was there. Accumulations of over ten feet happened in Madison County, far from the lake effect. Thus this forecast seems a reversion to statistical norm for upstate.

    • Central New Yorker says:

      You don’t have to go back to the 50’s, 2007 Redfield had over 12 feet in a few days. 4ft is common in that part of NY every year.

      • Benzin Bruder says:

        I lived 20 miles from Syracuse for over 30 years. Your statement is silly; would you post the same if this happened in September?

        Yes, this is common – in January and February. The POINT is that this is an unusual amount of snow so early in the year.

        • Buffalo Refugee says:

          “es, this is common – in January and February. The POINT is that this is an unusual amount of snow so early in the year.”

          above average, not unusual and certainly not rare nor cause for alarm.
          A quick look at NOAA on your own motivation will support my statement.

          BTW this is a forecast not an actual event.

        • Joel Shore says:

          As Dr Spencer pointed out, in fact that largest lake effect events tend to occur earlier in the year when the lake is still warmer (and completely ice-free). While mid-November is on the early side, it is not ridiculously so…In fact, I think a few years ago Buffalo got a couple of feet in October.

    • DearLeaderMaobama says:

      You are correct. It may impact our morning commute and close some schools but most people will go to work like any other day. Lots of areas around here see storms like this several times a year.

    • beatrixkate says:

      Madison County is not “far from the lake effect.” I’ve lived there for decades. While it’s not in the area farther north and due east of the lake that is usually hardest hit by the genuinely huge storms, we get lots and lots of lake effect snow every winter, sometimes every day all winter, and often a lot of it in a short intense blast, if a band stops overhead as they often do. There’s no part of Central New York, even much farther south, that could accurately be termed “far from the lake effect.”

      • pabab47 says:

        I grew up in Madison County and agree that it’s not far from the snow belt. Have been away for over 40 yrs. Back in the 50s and 60s it just snowed, period. Had never heard of “lake effect” or “wind chill”.

        • TC says:

          I remember a meterologist on a Syracuse channel, talking about lake effect back in the 60s, where I grew up, south of Utica, right next door to Madison county. I forget his name, but he was always explaing how the weather worked, while giving the weather forecast.

    • snoocks2 says:

      Took my hubby to the Adirondacks for our 25th to snowmobile and snow shoe. Snowmobiling wonderful – snowshoeing not so great in 6-ft of snow. Fall off the shoes and nobody will find you until spring;-) Beautiful up there. We’re from MI and we get snow, but not usually quite that much, even tho we’re surrounded by Great Lakes.

    • Paul N. says:

      I was a student at Syracuse University in the ’60’s and clearly remember storms dropping 2-3 feet of snow.

    • Sal says:

      Yes, during that cold snap from the mid 50s to the mid 70s snow totals were rather large.

  2. FU says:

    Can’t wait for all of the liberal loonies to freeze to death, and then report the cause as global WARMING.

    • DearLeaderMaobama says:

      The problem with that statement is that most of NY state, minus the cities are Red as Red gets. Those will be right wingers getting snowed on. All the lefties are in the cities down in south state.

      • Benzin Bruder says:


        Many from upstate NY think they are conservative. They are moderates at best. Many are right leaning liberals. Look at the breakdown of the recent election, including lib shills like Tonko getting reelected. NY deserves exactly what it has. The problem is that the rest of us don’t deserve the likes of Chuck U Schumer, Gillibrand and the rest.

        If you believe your own statement you don’t know conservatism.

        • Robert walters says:

          They are just stupid period. Having been born and raised in Rotenchester i can attest to that.I spent my college days at Oswego in the late 70’s and all it did was snow!!! I have friends that still live in upstate NY and they will not move. All i can say is they deserve what they get.Yes it is early for snow but i can remember a small town to the east of Fulton got 4′ over night in late October.So long as it keeps snow you know what we will not have to worry about Global Warming. Oh yea when i was in college it was global cooling and we had only ten years of oil left. OH the blind leading the blind.

          • Sal says:

            Yes, the global warming/climate change nonsense is laughable. You also forgot about the population bomb nonsense and how we weren’t going to be able to feed the world. Why anyone puts up with the winters in the northern tier of NY is beyond me. It’s not as if the economy is so great. Then again, I have friends who live in Long Island and commute forty or fifty miles a day, paying $15 tolls to cross a bridge to work on the 40th floor of an office building. You’d have to put a gun to my head go get me to do that. I’m happy here now in flyover country where people are friendly, the weather is tolerable and most things are extremely affordable.

    • FU2 says:

      You just don’t get it.

      Stay in school.

    • Bob Cherry says:

      This just in…..

      The four feet of lake-effect snow expected to arrive on the heels of a cold snap will be measurably WARMER this time around, and may appear to be rain. Don’t be fooled! It will simply be a WARMER form of snow as posited by the employment of the always reliable Climate Change ALGOREthm.

  3. I love it when the weather patterns get bizarre. It is so exciting.

    • jimc says:

      Huh, climatologists.

      According to my Thermo book: “Thermodynamicists get very excited, or at least get very interested, when nothing happens, and this condition of equilibrium will grow in importance as we go through the laws”.

      Now those are sensible people.

    • Rochester says:

      Bizarre? I’ve lived in NY for 50 years. There is nothing bizarre about this .. It is completely normal and happens almost every year.

      The only thing bizarre is that people think this is not normal.

  4. Central New Yorker says:

    Here is a reference, notice residents were unfazed…. Meaning it is common.


  5. Dan says:

    Yay, Holiday Valley here we come!

    • Brian says:

      Ellicottville (sic)….best skiing there is on the private resort on the back side. If it’s still there.
      East skiing is a waste. Name it, I’ve skiied it.

  6. MusseePiig says:

    This isn’t new news to people who live there. 3-4 feet of snow is common for those areas. When I lived in Buffalo, life went on. You keep shovels and cat litter in your car starting in October because lake effect snow is brutal and accumulates rapidly.

  7. LWJR says:

    Amazing Global COOLING and a Carbon Tax from China

  8. RiHo08 says:

    In your picture, the upper left, is a picture of the Bruce Peninsula, of course in red: Lake Huron snow effect.

    From Environment Canada, Marine forecast, Lake Huron buoy #45003 in Northern Lake Huron: Lake temperature 6 C with air temperature 0 C. Winds Gale force: 35 knots, waves building to 3 meters by Tuesday morning; visibility < 1 km.

    I will get a blow-by-blow account from friends if the internet stays connected. Then again, our friends may have already fled South believing they have avoided the worst of the lake effects.

    Frankly though, thinking of the Great Lakes Freighters, the potential for foundering is high and the insurance has ended on Sunday November 16. Edmund Fitzgerald and the Storms of November.

    The bush will retain the snow as the trees shelters the ground from the sun. Good for tracking deer (fire-arms season same as here Nov 15 to 30). Keeping the snow until next Spring where melting will refurbish Great Lakes water levels. Another above average water level season.

  9. Garbageman says:

    Yes we deal with the snow in Upsate NY, I left Niagara University in 1977 just as the blizzard struck, I survived the Blizzard of 66, and numerous other snowfalls, of the 2ft plus range, but it does not make watching the snow fall anymore pleasant. It still has to be moved and it will be falling off and on until April, sometimes May, and God forbid even occasionally in June.

  10. Defiant says:

    I know…I know…just because it’s COLDER, that doesn’t disprove Global Warming! The Jetstream etc. etc. In the meantime…it SURE IS COLD!

  11. Doug says:

    Doctor Roy…
    Hey you made the Drudge Report.
    I am leaving Huntsville heading to Western NY Friday. I think Mother will need help shoveling out.

    As to snowfall, seems like it is reverting to what it was like 60-70’s Or am I imagining this?

    • yes, I agree, recent winters have been more like the 1960s and 1970s. I’ve written about this…related to the negative phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation we are in. Could last another 20 years…but no one really knows.

  12. Tug Hill Ed says:

    So early in the year?…I think it was in ’84 we had 33″ the weekend before Thanksgiving, 36″ the following weekdend and 39″ the third weekend in a row. That doesn’t even count the 6″ here and 9″ there during the week…we tend not to even mention those.

  13. Bill says:

    Hopefully Dr. Spencer can obtain a comment from lying, demoRAT-COMMUNIST party, hack operative and colossal fraud, albore.

  14. Ed Dziob says:

    …Aaahhh, the paradoxical effects of global warming. I’m so glad our leader just secured a deal with the Russians and Chinese to stop climate change. I now feel so much safer living the retired life in Arizona, knowing I won’t have to worry about snow coming here this winter. If only the Bills could get back on the winning track. Maybe he could fix that too…

  15. jim2 says:

    This is OT, but I know you are interested in the Ivanpah solar plant. It seems it’s not making nearly as much energy as promised.


  16. snowy says:

    Four feet of snow in 24 hours? Please – that is a lot of snow even for the Adirondaks ( Tug Hill anybody) – you people lack any “Clue” as to snow – see ya on the Thruway!

  17. Charles says:

    Bush and global warming are the reasons..And Koch and Fox news are also to blame

  18. Morton says:

    What I love about Global Warming (Now referred to as “Climate Change”) is that it causes everything: Hot Summers; Cold winters; Cold summers; Warm winters; Drought; Floods; Hurricanes; The absence of hurricanes; Volcanic eruptions. Conveniently, now that it’s climate change, the very seasons prove it’s reality. What about “Global Darkening” in the Northern Hemisphere? Aren’t we going to eventually run out of sunlight completely if this keeps up? What kind of idiot would take two data points, a year apart, and then draw out a linear trend for a thousand years? The modern day alchemists, that’s who! Your emperor is naked, dumb ass!

  19. Windy says:

    Dr. Spencer, have you thought about installing Twitter and Facebook buttons to make your information easier to share? Or did you already and I’m just missing them? Thanks.

  20. don christner says:

    Damn, I was just going to re-emigrate back to NY to start my business. Take advantage of the 10 year tax holiday cuomo is pushing. Guess I’ll stay here in florida. Sorry cuomo and give my regards to chucky.. Might want to consider FRACKING to help take the chill off. Ha Ha The new Berlin wall is the state line between NY and Penn. Prosperity in Penn liberalism in Ny. Starve a liberal, feed a conservstive

  21. Wayne D Timm says:

    We got nearly 3 feet of snow on Cantwell Dr Buffalo NY. This is the most snow I have ever seen in November

  22. ossqss says:

    Do I see below freezing temps in all 50 states?

  23. call us says:

    The severe cold just now entering the northeast U.S. is forecast to cause intense lake effect snow bands to form over Lake Erie and Lake Ontario late tonight through tomorrow night

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