Perspective on lake effect snow bands

Snow in Topeka may blow and drift, but the whopping totals we’ve been hearing about in the lake effect regions of the Northeast seem incomprehensible. Let’s face it, a foot of snow snarls our roads to become nearly impassable.

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In this photo provided by Chrissy Hazard , a dog looks at the snow that was blown in the back door of the home of Chrissy Hazard on Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Chrissy Hazard )
In this photo provided by Chrissy Hazard , a dog looks at the snow that was blown in the back door of the home of Chrissy Hazard on Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Chrissy Hazard )

 

Parts of Buffalo, NY metro area have picked up in excess of 60″ of snow over the last couple days, but to say that all of Buffalo is buried in snow is nowhere near true. When you look at the pictures above, it’s hard to grasp how little snow there is just a couple miles away.

Lake effect snow forms over the relatively warm waters of the Great Lakes and persists with the wind over a very narrow corridor as the snow clouds drift off the lake over the adjacent land areas. These bands remain nearly stationary and pound some areas with incredible snows and miss other areas entirely.

Lake effect snow cloud with no snow on the ground in the foreground. (WIVB-TV, Buffalo)

The fine line between snow and no snow as seen from an airplane over Buffalo, NY (WIVB)
The fine line between snow and no snow as seen from an airplane over Buffalo, NY (WIVB)

So, what’s it like to have such different snow conditions from mile to mile? To put some perspective to that, I’ve placed the generalized snow reports as an overlay on top of our local map to show what it would be like if that were here rather than there. (No fears, without a Great Lake, we’re safe from this ever happening!) It’s just an interesting way to attach some familiar driving distances to the narrow band of what western New Yorkers are enduring.

Buffalo Snow

– Storm Track Chief Meteorologist Matt Miller

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