There are some distinct differences between lake effect snow storms and regular winter storms. Firstly, it is very important to know why these two types of storms occur, and then it will be easier to comprehend the differences between them. When two air masses with dissimilar temperature levels and moisture levels have a collision with each other, then winter storms obtain their energy. this is how the regular winter storm occurs. Here, the air mass is a very large region situated above the Earth. Typically, these air masses are 1000-1500 kilo-meter in size and they possess a consistent level of temperature and moisture all over.
Now, in the case of lake effect snow storm, when the cold air mass moves over the warm lake water area, then the relatively cold air picks plenty of moisture from these great lakes. Afterward, this saturated air unloads its substance over the lakes and neighboring areas in the form of snow. To produce the lake effect snow storm, the air mass definitely requires picking up the warmer parts from the lake water. Generally, these great lakes do not freeze totally during the winter. This warmer air mass goes up in the atmosphere and becomes cooler. As time passes, this air mass slowly but steadily starts to condense and shapes into cloud form. After a certain amount of moisture is being condensed out of the air, then it falls over that great lake and nearby areas in the form snow. This whole process is also known as the lake effect snow storm. So the basic differences between lake effect snow storm and regular snow storm are,
1. Regular winter storms are low-pressure snow storms whereas lake effect snow storms are high pressure snow storms.
2. Typically the lake effect snow storm only occurs around the great lakes and neighboring areas but the regular winter storm can occur in other places without lakes nearby.
3. Usually a regular winter storm lasts for a couple of hours to a few days sporadically. On the other hand, lake effect snow storm is capable of producing consistent and continuous snow over a specific place up to 48 hours.
4. Lake effect snow storm can produce snow quicker compare to the regular winter storm. According to www.weather.com website, the lake effect snow storm can produce as much as 193 centimeter of light-density snow within the period of 24 hours in a specific area with fall rates of as thick as 15 centimeter per hour.
5. There is no specific direction or location for regular winter storm. But in case of lake effect snow storm, it usually occurs in the east or southeast side of a particular lake. Because the wind that carries those specific air masses commonly initiate from a southwest to northwest direction.