Upstate New York continues to be buried by heavy lake-effect snowfalls

Lake-Effect Snowstorm Pummels Western New York

Lake-Effect Snowstorm Pummels Western New York

The first significant lake-effect snowstorm of the season is currently pummeling western New York state, bringing heavy accumulations that could top 2½ feet in spots. This extreme weather event is a result of frigid air blowing over the Great Lakes, causing heavy snowfall in areas such as northern Michigan, northeast Ohio, and northwest Pennsylvania.

Dangerous Road Conditions and Accidents

In western New York, snow falling at rates up to 3 inches per hour has created whiteout conditions along sections of Interstates 90, 86, and 81. Thunder has even accompanied the heavy snowfall. While snow-related accidents have been reported, fortunately, there have been no road closures as of midday. It’s worth noting that this heavy snowfall has mostly remained south and north of Buffalo, which experienced severe snowstorms about a year ago.

Accidents in Ohio and School Closures in Cleveland

In Ohio, snow caused a crash involving 13 vehicles about 20 miles south of Cleveland, resulting in multiple non-life-threatening injuries. Several inches of snowfall have been recorded in Cleveland, leading to school closures in the area.

Record Snowfall in Michigan and Beyond

Michigan has also experienced significant snowfall, with Sault Ste. Marie receiving 11.7 inches on Monday, making it the fourth-snowiest November day on record. Winter weather advisories are still in effect for northern Michigan and its Upper Peninsula. Additionally, snow squalls have extended all the way to the interior Mid-Atlantic, reducing visibility in West Virginia and western Maryland.

Why Lake Ontario Receives More Snow

Interestingly, the snow totals with this lake-effect event have been greater off Lake Ontario compared to Lake Erie. This is because Lake Ontario has a more west-to-east alignment, which aligns with the current wind direction. On the other hand, Lake Erie is oriented more west-southwest to east-northeast, so air isn’t blowing down its full length, resulting in less moisture pickup.

Current Snow Totals and Impacts

Here are some of the snow totals through midday Tuesday:

Continued Snowfall and Forecast

As of early afternoon Tuesday, snow bands off Lake Erie were starting to break apart, while those off Lake Ontario remained intact. A lake-effect snow warning is in effect until early Wednesday along Lake Erie, from northeast Ohio to western New York. An additional 4 to 8 inches of snow is possible south of Buffalo’s airport. Another snow warning is in effect along Lake Ontario, with the Tug Hill Plateau predicted to receive another 5 to 10 inches of snow.

Shifts in Wind Direction and Dissipation of Snow Bands

As the wind direction changes to be more out of the northwest, the snow bands will shift south away from the lakes, causing them to fragment and eventually dissipate. Snowfall coming off Lake Erie should dissipate first, with accumulation ending in northeast Ohio, northwest Pennsylvania, and southwest New York by Wednesday morning. On the other hand, the main snow band coming off Lake Ontario is likely to hold together as it shifts slightly south, potentially hovering in the northern suburbs of Rochester through the evening hours Tuesday. Some models even suggest that it could pivot back north and solidify once again by Wednesday, allowing for additional accumulation before the snow winds down early Thursday.

The Science Behind Lake-Effect Snow

Lake-effect snows occur when frigid air blows across a relatively warm lake. This phenomenon is most common in late fall and early winter when the lake is warmer than the air above it. Once the lakes freeze over, the “lake-effect snow machine” shuts down. In this case, an upper-level low-pressure zone is responsible for driving wind across the lakes, picking up moisture, and depositing it over land as snow.

Stay safe and prepared during this snowstorm!

Read More of this Story at – 2023-11-28 22:11:00

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