What is lake effect snow?

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Buffalo, Syracuse and Cleveland are big cities all familiar with lake effect snow, but sometimes we get some too.

We are getting to the time of year that we talk about lake effect snow. Primarily this impacts states that border the Great Lakes, but sometimes we can get lake effect snow bands to reach western Massachusetts.

You need several ingredients for lake effect snow. You need comparatively warm lake water next to cold land. You need cold air to blow over that warm lake water. When you have cold air on top of the warmer lake air you get lift. That lift leads to the development of snow bands. Those snow bands then travel from the lake onto the land and drop snow.

This is expected to be a big problem for parts of New York State this week. The problem with these bands of snow is that they can be very narrow, which makes them difficult to forecast, because a slight change in the wind direction can mean a big deal in terms of snowfall amounts.

If these snow bands stay over the same area for hours or days at a time you can get several inches or multiple feet of snow.

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