You’ve probably heard that Buffalo is snowed in – truckers and commuters stranded overnight on a stretch of the Thruway, travel bans, 2, even 3 feet of snow.
Lake Effect Snow (and lake effect rain) happens when cold air blows over warmer open water, picks up moisture, and then dumps it over land – it happens on the eastern tips of the Great Lakes. The city of Buffalo is situated at the point where Lake Erie “ends” and narrows into the Niagara River, with Niagara Falls about 20 miles downstream, where the water continues after a couple more miles of river into Lake Ontario.
Lake Effect Snow is restricted to a band a few miles wide, and can be independent of any other general snow system. Imagine a wiper blade moving back and forth, but not necessarily in rhythm, restricted to a narrow arc. This almost always stays south of the city, from the very southern edge of Buffalo south toward the farmland, vinyards, and the hills that make up ski resorts.
I live in Buffalo’s Upper West Side, about a kilometer from Niagara River. At the same time even the southern quadrant of the city, 3 miles south, was under a driving ban, cars and trucks were stranded on the Thruway edging Buffalo, and some first ring suburbs had 2 feet of snow, at 2:00 this afternoon when snow was still falling, this was the view from my porch –
And we still have no snow here tonight.