Living near the shores of the Great Lakes in the United States and Canada means having weather a bit more different from those who live further inland. These large bodies of water moderate the climate making it cooler in Summer and warmer in Winter. How pleasant!
Well, there is a catch. In late Autumn and early Winter, often the lake waters are warmer than the surrounding air mass. This results in increased precipitation as the cold air picks up moisture when it crosses the warmer lakes then releases it unceremoniously upon reaching land. When the air temperature is above freezing, it rains; below freezing, it snows. This precipitation tends to occur in narrow bands so depending on wind direction, some nearby localities are affected more than others. One can literally drive or walk through a wall of precipitation with these bands.
Today here in Western New York, there is a very cold (~20F) air mass crossing over the 39F water of Lake Erie. And so we are experiencing a good old-fashioned Lake Effect Snow Event in the Buffalo Metropolitan area. I left 6 inches of snow (and still falling) at my home this morning and arrived at work in Buffalo to barely a dusting.
At some point later in the season air temperature and water temperature will likely even out making these events much less dramatic. Until then, depending on which side of the shovel one might be, we enjoy or endure.
Twenty four hours later – December 12, 2013: Approximately 3 feet of snow fell at The Acre. Below are shots taken this morning at home and upon arrival at my Buffalo workplace.
UPDATE: December 16, 2013
Well, I am becoming quite snow weary after 6 straight days of the white stuff. We had about 4 feet of snow on Saturday morning following four consecutive days of lake effect precipitation when a widespread storm came through (effecting all of the Great Lakes and Northeast U.S.) dropping another 6 or so inches. On Sunday, after clearing the most recent snow, I went inside and no more than 5 minutes later, another lake effect event developed leaving a foot of snow in just under 7 hours (see photo below). We’re now up to more than 5 feet of snow on the ground. Thankfully, the snow bands have shifted further south of The Acre and are forecast to break up early this afternoon. The weekend forecast is calling for highs in the mid 40s with rain. Next up, ice-jammed streams and localized flooding, me thinks!