Chief Meteorologist Explains Lake Effect Snow - Northern Michigan's News Leader

Chief Meteorologist Explains Lake Effect Snow

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Lake effect snow is a weather phenomenon that only those near large lakes experience.

It impacts Northern Michigan by delivering the extra snow but in turn creating travel problems.

The reason why it happens? One is of course are the lakes. They are our moisture source and are relatively warm when compared to the air above it.

When the cold air crosses a lake, moisture is pulled up into the atmosphere and clouds form. The clouds are pushed over land which in turn squeezes the moisture out of the clouds.

Most of the time is falls as snow but there are times when if falls as rain.

Wind direction is big factor in determining who see's the heavy snow. Southwest or West produces some significant snow around the Straits but the best direction for widespread lake snow is the NW.

You can see the graphic details how the snow moves as the wind shifts. A North or Northeast wind doesn't normally produce widespread lake snow but can deliver some localized heavier totals. That's due to the wind crossing a lot of lake water thus being able to pick up more moisture, before going over land and dropping it as snow.