If you live in an area that is prone to lake-effect snow, it’s important to know how to prepare for extreme winter weather. With Lake effect snow warning comes powerful winds and heavy snowfall, creating dangerous road conditions and power outages. It’s not a pleasant experience—but it can be made less miserable if you’re proactive in your preparation.
In this article, we’ll give you all the information you need to stay safe during these winter storms. We’ll also tell you what warning signs to look out for so that you can get ready ahead of time for when a lake effect snow warning is issued. By the end of this article, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a winter weather warrior!
What Causes Lake Effect Snow
Lake effect snow is an atmospheric phenomenon that occurs when cold air passes over a large body of warmer water, such as a lake or ocean. This warmer water raises the air temperature, which then quickly condenses into clouds. When these clouds reach shore and come into contact with cold air from the land, the moisture within them turns into snow.
This type of precipitation is especially common in areas close to the Great Lakes, where lake effect snow is thought to account for approximately 20-50% of total annual snowfall. It also commonly occurs on the downwind side of large mountain ranges and around coastal areas.
The intensity and amount of lake effect snow can vary depending on several factors, including wind speed, winter temperatures and the amount of unfrozen water in the lake. The most severe conditions usually arise when colder winds blow over warmer waters and create intensive bands of snow.
The Science Behind Lake Effect Snow Warnings
Ever heard of lake effect snow? While winter sports enthusiasts might dread the phrase, for everyone else, it’s important to understand why and how lake effect snow can put you in danger.
The science behind lake effect snow warnings is really quite simple. Cold air from the North meets with the relatively warmer waters of large bodies of water like Lakes Michigan, Superior, Erie, and Ontario. This warm air is then pushed upwards, and as it rises, it passes through the cold atmosphere on top. The moisture in this warm air then condenses into clouds which can produce snowfall.
As the temperatures surrounding these lakes are colder than normal due to their proximity to them, heavier snowfall is more likely when these two weather conditions collide. This is why lake effect snow warnings are generally more common in winter months around these areas. The strong wind associated with lake effect snow can reduce visibility quickly and create a very hazardous situation for drivers. It’s important to be aware of any warnings that are issued about conditions near lakes during the winter months so that you remain safe!
Areas Most Impacted by Lake Effect Snow
If you live, work or travel near a large lake, you may be familiar with lake effect snow. This type of snow is a result of cold air moving over warmer lake water — the moist, warm air rises and cools over the lake, forming clouds that bring heavy snowfall to certain areas.
When it comes to lake effect snow, some regions are more at risk than others. Here are four of the key areas that can get hit hard by lake effect snow:
The Great Lakes Region: This area encompasses parts of Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Wisconsin — and can get up to 100 inches of snow each winter!
The Finger Lakes Region: Named after its 11 finger-shaped lakes in New York State, this region sees heavy lake effect snow because cold winds from Canada often pass over these warm lakes.
The Adirondacks: This mountain range is located in upstate New York and gets blanketed with heavy snow as cold air moves off Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. Many times snow can accumulate up to 10 feet deep here!
The Upper Midwest: Parts of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula experience heavy lake effect snows — sometimes accumulating more than 200 inches in a year!
No matter where you live near a large body of water — be sure to keep an eye out for those pesky lake effect snows!
Preparing for Significant Lake Effect Snowfall
When a lake effect snow warning is issued, you’ll want to make sure you and your family are prepared. Here are some steps you can take to get ready:
Pay attention to NOAA weather forecasts and any issued advisories or warnings. Make sure to plan ahead for significant storms, as travel may be limited or hazardous during this time.
Stock up on essential items like food, water, and medications. That may be needed during an extended power outage or if travel is not possible for a few days.
If you’re using wood heaters for warmth, make sure there’s an adequate. Supply of fuel on hand and your heater is clean and in good working order.
Clear snow from patios, porches or sidewalks as needed to make sure there’s a safe path. Through the snow for anyone who needs to get out of the house in an emergency.
Make sure vehicles are serviced with regular maintenance such as oil changes, tire checks, battery checks and general winterization tasks.
Taking these steps ahead of time will help ensure your family is ready should. A significant lake effect snow event occur in your area.
Driving Tips During Lake Effect Snow Storms
When it comes to driving, always remember that safety is paramount. Here are some tips for driving in a lake effect snow storm:
Be prepared – Make sure to let someone know your route and expected arrival time before you leave. And don’t forget to keep emergency supplies like drinking water, snacks, blankets, and a phone charger in your vehicle.
Slow down – Since visibility can be reduced during a lake effect snow storm. Drive at a slower speed than usual to give yourself more time to react.
Closer is better – Try and stick to major highways that have been treated with salt or. Sand – the closer you are to the lake, the better chance you have of avoiding. Hazardous conditions due to lake effect snow on the roads.
Monitor road closures – Be aware of any areas that may be. Closed due to heavy snow or blizzard conditions and plan your route accordingly.
Pull over if necessary – If the visibility is so poor that you can’t safely drive your vehicle anymore. Pull off the road as far as possible and turn on your hazard lights until conditions improve.
Following these tips will help ensure you get to where you’re going safely during a lake effect snow storm!