Northern New England is no stranger to big snow storms, but just imagine a years worth of snow in only one lake effect band. That is what is happening today on the eastern shore of Lake Erie. Snowfall totals are being measured in feet Lancaster New York. They’re measuring 5 Feet as of 9PM!
Some of the left over moisture in the band off of Lake Ontario was getting wrung out over the Western Mountains of Maine this afternoon in form of snow showers. It’s uncommon for moisture from lake effect streamers to reach our area, but not unheard of.
So what causes lake effect snow anyway? Lake effect snow is caused when a very cold winter air mass flows over the relatively warmer waters of a large lake. Intense evaporation from the lake surface under these conditions forms convective clouds that cannot contain all of this water, and some of it falls back to the surface as snow.
In the case of today’s situation this process is enhanced by the extreme sharp contract between water and air temperature. Lake water temperatures are still relatively warm (certainly compared to what they would be a month from now), and this invasion of modified arctic air is unprecedented for November. In fact this morning the nation started the coldest it has been in November in 38 years. Info from Ryan Maue Weatherbell Analytics http://www.weatherbell.com/
- Tuesday morning, America as a whole awoke to the coldest it has been in November since 1976 – 38 years ago. The Lower 48 or CONUS spatially average temperature plummeted overnight to only 19.4 F typically of mid-winter not November 18th.
- An astounding 226 million Americans will experience at or below freezing temperatures.
- More than 85% of the surface area of the lower 48 reached or fell below freezing Tuesday morning. All 50 states saw at or below freezing temperatures on Tuesday.
- Record lows from Idaho to Nebraska and Iowa south to Texas and east through the Great Lakes, the eastern 2/3 of the US will shatter decades-long and in some cases, century-long records. Temperatures east of the Rockies will be 20-40 F below climate normals.
Back to the point on this incredible lake effect snow in parts of New York. Portland averages 61″ annually and Bangor 66″. Here’s a list of other cities and towns and their averages around the state.
Now imagine getting all of that snow in only one or two days. That is what’s happening for towns like Lancaster New York where the total stands at 60″ and still counting.
Here are several impressive photos coming from areas hardest hit from NWS, Highway Service, and local residence in the area.
Another round of lake effect snow is likely in those same areas into Thursday. An additional 30 inches are possible which may bring some totals to around 80 or 90 inches. Melt and some rain should arrive on late in the weekend will shift concerns to roof collapses by then.
Back at home, it will stay chilly in the coming days. The forecast looks storm free, but temperatures will stay well below normal into the first half of the weekend. Stay Warm.