ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Monday’s “winter wallop” blanketed the Greater Rochester area, dumping over a foot of snow in the city, and to the east and south, but especially the west.

Viewers have reported multiple measurements of a foot or more, prompting some to break out an extended measuring tool of “Chodaks.” Early indications show that there is a “high likelihood” that the January 17th record of snowfall, which has stood since the 1950s.

If you have to travel, stay safe, and build extra time into your commute. But first, check our closings listings to make sure that you’re going to a place that’s still open. And if you’re looking to fly, you might be out of luck, but you can look here to make sure.

So, what are some of the biggest snowfalls to hit Rochester? Thanks to the National Weather Service, we have a number of ways to look at the snowfall.

Biggest snowfalls per day, by month:

  • 23″ – January 3rd, 1996
  • 18.4″ – February 14th, 1960
  • 22.3″ – March 4th, 1999
  • 10.4″ – April 4th, 1990
  • 10.7″ – May 7th, 1989
  • 2.6″ – October 31st, 1996
  • 11.9″ – November 15th, 1995
  • 18.0″ – December 25, 1978

But what about snowiest months?

  • 61.3″ – January 2004
  • 64.8″ – February 1958
  • 54.0″ – March 1900
  • 23.8″ – April 1901
  • 5.0″ – October 1906
  • 24.9″ – November 1996
  • 46.5″ – December 2010


Today’s weather forecast here

Snowfall totals are in the 8-12″ range this morning and we expect to get another 4-6″ through the rest of the day as this storm system moves through New York State. We get snow on the back edge of this storm and a boost from lake effect. Crews are catching up to the snow and should keep the main roads clear while some of the back roads get relief as well. This snowfall might break the daily snowfall record of January 17 of 9.5″ set in 1958.

The main question will be how much lake-effect snow we see this evening and overnight. A consistent northwest wind could surprise and bring another few inches, but this falls in strips and others only see a few flakes. Most in the region will finish with around a foot of snow in the Finger Lakes while others closer to Lake Ontario will get closer to a foot and a half. Temperatures drop down to the teens with wind chills in the single digits by Tuesday morning. 

Blowing snow will make it seem like it’s still snowing Tuesday, but we don’t expect much coming down from the sky. Only a brisk northwest wind through lunchtime. Skies slowly clear Tuesday night, only to make way for the next storm system Wednesday. Deepening low pressure in the Great Lakes moves just to the north and drops a few inches Wednesday morning into the afternoon. This will mark a cold blast that takes over Thursday. There will be some lake effect around, but the cold will be a focus here as temperatures drop well below average. Any snow on the ground will last through the weekend with this extended cold stretch. 

More on another kind of weather phenomena: ‘La Nina Winters’

Number one on the list are the back to back March snowstorms of 1999. The first storm, deemed the Blizzard of ‘99 arrived on March 4th with snowfall rates of 2-3 inches an hour! 22.3 inches of snow fell in total. That caliber of snow paralyzed the region and triggered chaos on the roads. We hadn’t even finished the clean up process when the second storm arrived on March 6th dropping more than a foot and a half of snow in 24 hours! Snow drifts reached 4-6 feet in places. To this day those two, one day snowfalls rank among the top 3 in Rochester weather history. 

Do you remember the great Leap Day storm of 1984? If you do, do you know that it dragged on, and on… for 6 days?! The worst of the snow was on the last two days of the month. When all was said and done Rochester ended up with a whopping 32.7 inches of snowfall. The Rochester area was briefly in shut down mode with normal life not resuming until March 1st. We save the best for last. The king of all snowfalls in La Nina years, albeit a weak La Nina year, happened 25 years ago in January of 1996. With 23 inches of snowfall recorded in 24 hours it remains the largest single day snowfall in Rochester weather history. The bulk of the snow wasn’t actually from one organized system, but rather was the result of lake effect off lake Ontario!

To be clear, just like ice cream, La Nina comes in a variety of different flavors and styles. Some La Nina years have brought below normal snowfall, while other La Nina years, like the ones highlighted here, have over performed! A repeat performance of these highlighted events from past La Ninas is unlikely, but it does give you an idea of what winter is capable of in a La Nina year.