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Feet of lake-effect snow to bury Great Lakes during final week of 2017

By Brett Rathbun, AccuWeather meteorologist
December 27, 2017, 12:41:15 PM EST


A plunge of arctic air will set up significant lake-effect snowfall for parts of the Great Lakes into midweek.

Following the Christmas snowstorm across the northeastern United States, a multi-day lake-effect snow event will bring the heaviest snowfall so far this season across the Great Lakes.

The very cold air moving over the warm waters of the Great Lakes will set the stage for bands of heavy snow.

NE regional 12/27


The heaviest bands of snow developed downwind of lakes Erie and Ontario on Christmas Day, where multiple feet of snow has already fallen.

Erie, Pennsylvania, received 34 inches of snow on Christmas Day, which shattered the previous daily record of 8.1 inches set in 2002. Other local and state records were set.

The most intense bands will continue off lakes Huron, Erie and Ontario into Wednesday.

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“The heavy accumulation of snow along with near-whiteout conditions will make for difficult, if not impossible travel,” Travis said.

An occasional rumble of thunder with the snow cannot be ruled out.

Gusty winds within these bands will lead to blowing and drifting snow.

Snowfall totals will exceed a foot in some locations. Areas downwind of lakes Erie and Ontario could top 5 feet by Wednesday.

Static L. E. Snowfall Total 3 pm


Those driving on interstates 75, 81, 86, 90, 94 and 196 will want to allow for extra travel time.

It is possible that the heavy snow could shut down sections of Interstate 90 between Cleveland and Buffalo, as well as Interstate 81 between Syracuse and Watertown, New York.

Speed restrictions are already in place on the interstates in northwestern Pennsylvania.

A couple of weak Alberta clipper storms will push across the Great Lakes region from Wednesday night through Friday night. While these storms are likely to bring a general, light snowfall, they will allow intense lake-effect snow to diminish for a time.

Cleanup efforts throughout and after the snow will be difficult with air temperatures well below freezing. Failure to dress warmly when outside can lead to cold-related illnesses, such as frostbite and hypothermia.

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