Nearly 7 feet of snow is falling in New York

MONTGOMERY, Alabama (WSFA) – Earlier this week, a successful and historic lake-effect snow event ended for communities east of the Great Lakes. This includes parts of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan.

The most impressive amounts of snow at this multi-day event were recorded in western New York. There, intense lake-effect ribbons of snow pouring from Lake Erie and Lake Ontario buried — quite literally — several towns. Snow was measured in feet with hours and hours ranging from 2-5″ snow rates per hour.

The lake effect snow event showed total heights of 3 to 7 feet in western New York.
The lake effect snow event showed total heights of 3 to 7 feet in western New York.(WSFA 12 News/NOAA)

The highest snow totals were over four to seven feet. Just outside of Hamburg, New York, a remarkable total of 81.2″ was measured. This is the highest official reading observed for this lake effect snow event.

To put this number in perspective, let’s compare it to the height of some figures and things you may be familiar with…

81.2″ is larger than all of the following:

  • Nick Saban
  • Cadillac Williams
  • Bryce Young
  • Panzer Bigsby
  • A 2023 Ford Explorer

While this may not go down as the top lake effect snow event in New York history, it will certainly go down in history as one of the most productive. It’s not every winter that four to seven feet of snow fall with just one lake effect snowfall.

The amount of snow that fell in western New York compared to some things related to Alabama.
The amount of snow that fell in western New York compared to some things related to Alabama.(WSFA 12 News)

Many cities that lay beneath the two dominant lake-effect snow bands saw more snow in just a few hours than many other U.S. locations did in an entire year. Not impressed? Get this: More snow fell in western New York in 20 minutes than Montgomery has seen in years!

If that sort of snow rate doesn’t impress you, then I’m not sure what will. The snowiest winter in Montgomery’s recorded history came back in the late 19th century. In the winter of 1886-1887 snow fell over a foot, which is incredible by our standards. That’s how much snow fell in some western New York cities in just three to six hours!

Meteorologically, the reason it snowed so heavily and for so long is pretty simple. The lakes are still relatively warm and the air that swept over them was very, very cold. Combine this with a perfect wind direction for 3-4 days and your result is a perfect snow event with lush lake effect where the snow bands are set.

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