Approaching “Lake Effect” Snow

Approaching "Lake Effect" Snow

Dark snow clouds forming over Lake Michigan and moving west toward Milwaukee

A high-pressure system to our north is causing a strong breeze to come in from the northeast. As the cold Canadian air crosses over the warmer water of Lake Michigan, it is picking up moisture, forming it into dark clouds and then dumping it as snow again once it hits shore. This is what they call “lake effect” snow.

Milwaukee’s weather usually moves in from the west, so lake-effect snow is not quite the issue here that it is on the  Michigan shore across the lake.

Buffalo, New York, is on the northeastern end of Lake Erie and a little southeast (and south and southwest, too!) of Lake Ontario, so those poor people have about triple the odds of winding up on the receiving end of the “lake effect,” which explains why they get such crazy-high annual snowfall totals.

Just today’s little weather tutorial, offered as a public service for everyone who doesn’t live next to a large body of water in a place that has cold winters and, thus, hasn’t had an opportunity to learn all of this the hard way😄

About Katherine Wikoff

I am a college professor at Milwaukee School of Engineering, where I teach literature, film studies, political science, and communication. I also volunteer with a Milwaukee homeless sanctuary, Repairers of the Breach, as chair of the Communications and Fund Development Committee.
This entry was posted in Life, Milwaukee, Nature and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Approaching “Lake Effect” Snow

  1. Sally Cissna says:

    We live just 10 miles from the lake and didn’t get a speck of snow yesterday while by the lake they got several inches. I just love figuring out the weather, don’t you?


    • I started paying close attention to the morning weather forecasts when my kids were in grade school and I needed to know how to dress them for the day. You know Wisconsin weather😄 Over time, because the different meteorologists explain what’s happening, I really did pick up a lot of the science behind our weather. Never a dull moment with our roller coaster of temperatures and variety of precipitation “formats”!


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