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Where were you 15 years ago when the 'October Surprise' hit WNY?

It started as lake effect rain the morning of Oct. 12, 2006. The trees were still in full autumn foliage, Lake Erie was about 62 degrees — 2 degrees warmer than normal — but the surface temperature was 36.

By the next day, the most populated neighborhoods of Western New York had been blanketed with upwards of 2 feet of heavy, wet snow that knocked out power to some 1 million residents for as long as 13 days.

In the end, what was later dubbed the "October Surprise" had stranded hundreds of drivers, taken more than a dozen lives and caused more than $500 million in damage.

"Words cannot do justice to the astounding event which opened the 2006-07 season. Not only was it the earliest event by far (two weeks) of the over 120 in the 13-year record of our lake effect archive, but it was the most unique in regards to destruction of trees and power outages, directly because of its out-of-season factor," said the National Weather Service.

WBFO's Jay Moran talks with NWS Meteorologist Dave Thomas

Snowfall map
National Weather Service
Snowfall totals ranged from a few inches to some 2 feet around western New York.

Snowfall totals greatly varied around the region. Here are some totals from the NWS:

  • Depew 24 inches
  • Alden-Milgrove 24 inches
  • Cheektowaga (NWS) 22.6 inches
  • Buffalo North 20 inches
  • Buffalo Downtown 15 inches
  • Buffalo South 10 inches
  • Amherst 14-22 inches
  • Clarence 16-22 inches
  • Tonawanda 12-18 inches
  • West Seneca 14 inches
  • North Tonawanda 6-12 inches
  • Hamburg 8-14 inches
  • Orchard Park 8 inches
  • Batavia 10 inches
  • Medina 8 inches
  • Lockport 6 -8 inches
  • Grand Island 2 (N)-10 (S) inches
  • Albion 5 inches
  • Brockport 3 inches
  • Niagara Falls 1 inch
Monday - Friday, 6 a.m. - 10 a.m.

Jay joined Buffalo Toronto Public Media in 2008 and has been local host for NPR's "Morning Edition" ever since. In June, 2022, he was named one of the co-hosts of WBFO's "Buffalo, What's Next."

A graduate of St. Mary's of the Lake School, St. Francis High School and Buffalo State College, Jay has worked most of his professional career in Buffalo. Outside of public media, he continues in longstanding roles as the public address announcer for the Buffalo Sabres of the National Hockey League and as play-by-play voice of Canisius College basketball.