What is Lake Effect Snow?
If you live in the Northeast Ohio area or anywhere along the great lakes, then the words “lake effect snow” are very familiar to you.
According to Weatherology.com Lake effect snow is something everyone has heard mentioned at one time or another, but this phenomenon is rarely explained in detail. Oftentimes, the furthest explanation that is given is that cold air is blowing over the lake, resulting in some heavy snows. This description just scratches the surface of what needs to happen for lake effect snow to occur. Let's dig into the science behind lake effect snow, who gets the most, and what ingredients need to come together for any sort of lake effect snow event to occur.
Lake effect snow will only occur when there is a large enough difference between the cold air blowing over the lake and the surface water temperatures that are present in the lake. When the temperature between these two variables is 13 degrees celcius or greater, lake effect snow is possible. When this temperature difference occurs, the lakes essentially act like boiling pots of water as steam can often times be seen rising out of the lake. These clouds of steam are the first step in the production of lake effect snow. The greater the temperature difference is between the water and the cold air aloft, the larger the amount of moisture is that rises into the atmosphere. https://weatherology.com/articles/191/What+is+Lake+Effect+Snow%3F.html
The Great Lakes create unique weather patterns. One of those weather patterns is lake effect snow. Lake effect snowstorms occur in only three places in the world: the Great Lakes, the east shore of Hudson Bay and along the west coasts of the Japanese islands of Honshu and Hokkaido. While people in the snow belt regions have learned to adapt, living near the lakes and experiencing lake effect snow still affects the economy and culture in significant ways. For example, winter sports like skiing and snowmobiling are major industries in some snow areas. This lesson explores how the Great Lakes influence lake effect snow, other factors that contribute to it and ways of reading weather conditions to forecast lake effect storms. http://www.miseagrant.umich.edu
Wikipedia states Lake-effect snow is produced during cooler atmospheric conditions when a cold air mass moves across long expanses of warmer lake water, warming the lower layer of air which picks up water vapor from the lake, rises up through the colder air above, freezes and is deposited on the leeward shores.