ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — It may seem unusual for a major lake effect snowstorm like this to unfold across Western New York, especially to kick off the winter season, but it was nearly 8 years ago that a similar snowstorm occurred for the Buffalo area.

Since late Thursday night an intense lake effect band has been dumping buckets of heavy snow across parts of Western New York creating impossible travel and snow totals so far that are almost too hard to believe.

48-hour storm totals from around the noon hour are reporting back snow totals on the order of 42.5” in Orchard Park, and 48” in Blasdell, which is well over a yard stick’s worth of snow. While much of Erie county is still cashing in on 1-4 feet of snow from this, drastically lower totals on the order of up to a couple of inches at best were found in places like Hamlin of Monroe county. 

In the heart of the lake band snowfall rates have reached 3-4 inches per hour at times, and lightning strikes, known as thundersnow, have popped up in the heaviest parts of the band. 

As fascinating as this event is by itself, did you know that a similar lake effect storm happened almost exactly 8 years ago on November 17th to the 19th back in 2014? This is remembered as one of the most significant winter events in Buffalo’s history with over 5 feet of snow falling over areas just east of Buffalo, with just a few inches less than a handful of miles away to the north. 

There were 13 fatalities, hundreds of roof collapses, and 1000s of stranded motorists. In addition to that, another 1 to 4 feet of snow fell in a second lake event leaving storm totals peaking around 7 feet of snow. 

What makes these lake effect events so unique is how localized the snow totals and impacts can be. It’s the nature of these narrow but intense bands that create such a wide range of totals, all depending on which way the winds are coming from; and all you need is enough cold air moving over the warm lake. 

For Rochester this has been nothing more than a typical day of flurries, barely requiring the snowbrush as an innocent inch or two has fallen. But for Buffalo, it’s going to take way more than a few shovels to clear this out.

For those that will be out shoveling even up to half a foot of snow in parts of our viewing area like Wyoming and Genesee counties it will be important to dress warmly, take breaks, and move small amounts of snow at a time. That includes those who will be cleaning out the Bills stadium or helping neighbors out who get stuck while out on the roads.