Lake Effect Snow

Lake effect snow is most often formed in northern America in the areas around the great lakes. This can occur tho anywhere large body’s of water such as oceans, bays, gulfs and lake are present with the right properties in place.

Lake effect snow is when cold winter winds move across warmer lake water forming energy and grasping up water vapor. This vapor then freezes and is deposited on the shores. When the air is lifted it produces harsh bands of rain and snow which can accumulate many inches and even feet of snow. Lake effect snow can occur most anywhere lakes are near however this is most common in the snow-belts of the great lakes surrounding Michigan. When lake effect occurs and the air is significantly colder than the water it can produce something called thunder-snow. Thunder-snow is when snow is accompanied by thunder and lightning.

Several things are needed for lake effect to occur, these also help to define certain characteristics

*instability- Instability is a difference of 13 degrees Celsius between the water and air and means more snow fall inland.

*fetch- Fetch is the distance an airmass travels over a body of water.

*wind/directional/speed shear- These shears are vitallyimportant in squall development

*upstream moisture- Lower upstream moisture = harder for precipitation to form because of a lack of water in the atmosphere

Higher moisture= easier for precipitation to form because of higher levels of water in the atmosphere

*upwind lakes- These are any large body of water upwind and are often hit harder by lake effect snow

*orography/topography- This is when elevation creates precipitation increase or decrease

*snow/ice cover- When a lake is frozen over, water cannot escape and enter the air thusly precipitation will decrease

When there is no ice on the lake, water is free to join with the air and precipitation will increase

Lake effect snow makes for a harsh winter, typically more snow, and icier roads so if you live in an area that is effected by this bundle up, throw a scraper in your trunk and drive safely!