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77 inches in Orchard Park likely sets record for snowfall

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Helping hands

Jessica Joy, center, gets some help shoveling her driveway in Orchard Park, Nov. 19, 2022.

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The 77 inches of snow that fell on Orchard Park from Thursday night until Saturday morning may break a few snowfall records for Erie County, a National Weather Service meteorologist said.

Liz Jurkowski stressed the state climatologist has to confirm all weather records, however, so her assessment is unofficial. 

But even if she can't call it a record-breaker, Jurkowski said the existing record for a two-day total of snow in Erie County is 51 inches measured 19 miles west of West Seneca during the snowstorm Nov. 17-19, 2014.

The record one-day total for snow in Erie County is 47.5 inches that fell 10 miles southeast of East Aurora during the same storm, she said.

"We’ll probably see at least the one- and two-day records probably broken, I can say unofficially," she said. "You can infer these will be broken, but the state has not officially announced that yet."

Other records may fall before this storm is over. More snow is expected throughout Saturday and into Sunday.

"The storm’s total is still not done. Regionwide, another 6 to 8 inches across Erie and Chautuaqua counties is expected," Jurkowski said.

On Saturday afternoon, the band of lake-effect snow was sitting over Niagara County.

"It will weaken. Then it will re-intensify as it starts to shift south (into Erie County). It will go back to up to 3 inches per hour," she said. 

She said the snowfall will shift south around 5 to 7 p.m. 

"Once it leaves Niagara County it’s pretty much done with Niagara County."

"Around midnight will go through the City of Buffalo. It will be out of the airport and the city by 2 a.m. It will move into southern Erie and  Chautuaqua counties, mostly staying in Chautauqua on Sunday." 

Snow falls on Buffalo Street in Orchard Park.

"It’s definitely a historic snowfall for Buffalo. It’s in the top three (of all time)," she said.  

And Jurkowski acknowledged it has been pretty exciting for her – a Buffalo native who was raised in Springville and joined the National Weather Service office in Buffalo three years ago – to be part of the team forecasting and tracking this storm. 

Why is the Buffalo region getting hit with such record-setting storms twice within eight years?  

“Well our lakes those two years were pretty warm. We had a pretty warm November so far this year. Since the lake is warmer, and the cold air came across above us, it creates a really unstable atmosphere in the lower levels. It’s just so unstable across the lake, with the extra moisture from the atmosphere. It would create a really nice thunderstorm if it was in the summer, but since it’s cold we’re getting snow.”

Including this storm, Jurkowski noted the region will have had three snowstorms in about two decades that dumped more than 7 feet of snow on the region, with the first one beginning Christmas Eve 2001. 

"We have seen three 7-foot events since 2000," she said.

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