Lake-Effect Snow Machine: Feet of Snow This Week

By , Meteorologist
January 21, 2013; 4:23 AM ET
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Heavy, lake-effect snow is piling up as bitterly cold, howling winds whip across the unfrozen Great Lakes.

Persistent cold winds will continue to blow across the Great Lakes through at least midweek with brutal arctic air in place and a series of weather disturbances passing through.

RELATED: Snow Also Headed to N.Y.C., Boston and Portland This Week

As cold air crosses the unfrozen and still relatively mild water of the lakes, there is little friction over the open waters. This causes the air to pile up and rise when it faces a higher friction over land, causing instability and snow showers.

Before Wednesday comes to a close, residents in some of the snow belts of the Great Lakes will be digging out from feet of snow.

The typical lake-effect snow belts include portions of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, northern and western portions of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan, northeastern Ohio, northwestern Pennsylvania and western and upstate New York state.

Dangerous travel will result the snow squalls with rapidly deteriorating roadway conditions. Extremely poor visibility will occur in heavy snow and blowing and drifting snow.

Meanwhile, AccuWeather RealFeel® temperatures will drop below zero at times.

"There's easily going to be a yard of snow some places where the lake-effect snow persists," AccuWeather Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said.

The heaviest and most persistent snow will favor communities that get lake-effect snow on a northwesterly or westerly wind.

Photo from

For instance, a couple of feet of snow may come down on ski areas to the south of Buffalo, N.Y.

However, the snow bands will shift around on a couple of occasions so places that get the heavy lake-effect snow on southwest winds, including Buffalo and Watertown, N.Y., get in on the snow event. Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski contributed to the content of this story.


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