After hearing about the record amounts of snow falling in Northwest Pennsylvania and Northeast Ohio, we did a crazy thing. We took a road trip up to Northeast Ohio to visit my hometown. With our current home location in Florida, this consisted of over 35 hours of driving! The result was that we had a great time in Northeast Ohio playing in the snow and visiting family over the weekend. Heck, I even enjoyed shoveling snow!
Growing up in Northeast Ohio, I learned to embrace a life surrounded by cold and snow during the winter months. Many people know all about cold and snow, but unless you lived, or have lived, in an area prone to Lake Effect snow, you may not know about this type of weather phenomenon.
Regarding lake effect snow, location is key. For example, a western Cleveland suburb may get little to no snow, while an eastern suburb of Cleveland could get blasted with over a foot of snow. This past week was a perfect example of this.
For those of you who don’t know what Lake Effect snow is, let’s go to science class just for fun. According to the National Weather Service. “Lake Effect snow occurs when cold air, often originating from Canada, moves across the open waters of the Great Lakes. As the cold air passes over the unfrozen and relatively warm waters of the Great Lakes, warmth and moisture are transferred into the lowest portion of the atmosphere. The air rises, clouds form and grow into narrow band that produces 2 to 3 inches of snow per hour or more.” Wind direction determines which regions will get impacted by Lake Effect snow. The downwind onshore areas are the regions that will get dumped on by the Lake Effect snow.
One other important thing to know about Lake Effect snow is that it will not occur after the body of water (Lake Erie in our case) is iced over. Currently, Lake Erie still has lots of open water; therefore, the Lake Erie snow machine is still in full effect. However, the temperatures have been brutally cold lately. If the temperatures continue to be this cold, Lake Erie will likely freeze over, thereby eliminating the threat of Lake Effect snow. Some years, the winter is milder, and Lake Erie does not freeze over. In this case, the threat of Lake Effect snow could remain through May.
Well, I hope you enjoyed science class as much as I did today. The bottom line for me is Lake Effect snow provides an abundance of opportunities for a true winter wonderland, and we REALLY enjoyed experiencing it last weekend! The area we were in had between two and three feet of the white stuff on the ground!