|WX CHANGERS- LAKE-EFFECT SNOW
METEOROLOGIST JEFF HABY
Lake-effect snow is as big as a weather changer can be, especially white-out lake-effect bands. Lake-effect snows only occur in
particular regions called snow belts, thus the residents in these areas are typically well versed on the consequences of living
in the snow belt. Visitors or new residents to these regions are often in for a shock when a winter in these regions
Lake-effect snow occurs due to very cold air picking up moisture from a huge lake and then depositing that moisture on and near
the lakeshore downwind of the wind direction. The lake supplies a continuous supply of moisture. Moisture is often a limiting
factor in snow events as a whole (non lake-effect events). However, in a lake-effect situation, the almost unlimited
moisture can produce huge snowfalls and very heavy snow rates. A long fetch over the relative warm waters of a great lake
can bring a continuous supply of moisture that can be uplifted and deposited as heavy snow in lake belt regions.
The weather can go from cold but nice to dangerous in a matter of minutes or a couple miles in a lake-effect event. It can be impossible
to see while traveling in the heavy snow bands. The snow can accumulate in feet which make snow removal more challenging. One of
the biggest weather changers that can be witnessed is traveling into a lake-effect snow band or observing one move in.