Update at 1:00 p.m.: The National Weather Service in Buffalo has published some of the region’s week-long snowfall totals. Cowlesville, N.Y., in Wyoming County has come out on top, with a total of 88 inches.
Cowlesville, N.Y. — 88 inches
Lancaster, N.Y. — 74 inches
Wales Center, N.Y. — 69.3 inches
Wyoming, N.Y. — 63 inches
Orchard Park, N.Y. — 63 inches
The southern suburbs of Buffalo, N.Y., are digging out again on Friday after a historic one-two punch lake effect snowstorm finally comes to a close. At least 85 inches of snow fell east of Lake Erie this week, impacting a population of 1.2 million in the five-county snow belt.
Now, with rain in the forecast and temperatures expected to soar into the 60s by Monday, that snow has become a different kind of threat in the form of flooding.
The preliminary, four-day snowfall totals in western New York are staggering. Wales Center and Hamburg, though they weren’t among the hardest hit during Tuesday’s event, rounded out the week with an incredible 85 inches (seven feet) of snow. Thursday’s lake effect snow band lingered further south than Tuesday’s, cutting across the Southtowns of Erie County. Both Wales Center and Hamburg, with a combined population of 60,000 people, accumulated 48 inches during the first round of lake effect on Tuesday, and then took the brunt of Thursday’s storm, topping off with another 37 inches.
Cheektowaga, N.Y., ended the week with 77 inches of snow on the ground. Lancaster, N.Y., totaled 74 inches. The number of locations that saw over three feet of snow this week — some in just one day — is too long to list. Erie and Genessee counties have logged widespread totals over 40 inches.
According to records kept by the National Weather Service, the largest snow event on record in Buffalo, N.Y, was 81.6 inches in 2001 — about seven feet — which accumulated over the course of five days. While snowfall records are not kept for locations other than Buffalo itself, seven feet is still a good indicator of a historic snow event in the region, putting this week’s event at the top of the list, and surely the top of local memory for a long time to come.
Unfortunately the threat of dangerous weather has not faded along with the lake effect snow bands. An almost summer-like warm up is expected early next week, and Buffalo is forecast to hit 60 degrees on Monday.
Add to that the rain that is expected on Sunday into Monday, and the region is looking at what could be a significant flooding event.
The National Weather Service has issued a flood watch for the same areas that were hardest hit by this week’s snow — Erie, Genessee, and Wyoming counties — which is in effect from Sunday afternoon through Wednesday morning. Meteorologists at the Weather Service in Buffalo explain how the combination of snow, rain, and rising temperatures will become so dangerous: