The frigid Arctic air blasting over the unusually warm Great Lakes have created more than a foot of lake effect lake effect snows in the lees of Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, and Lake Michigan. Bennetts Bridge, in Oswego County, New York, got a truly prodigious dumping from a Lake Ontario snow band--32" of snow in the 24 hours ending at 7 am Tuesday. As of 9 am EST Wednesday, here were the top snow amounts so far from this lake effect snow event:
Figure 1. True-color MODIS satellite image of Tuesday's lake effect snowstorms taken at 3:20 pm EST January 22, 2013. The most concentrated band of snow was affecting the east shore of Lake Ontario (far right of image) near Oswego, New York. Up to 32" of snow fell in 24 hours in this band. Note the thin streaks of snow to the southwest of Lake Michigan in north central Illinois. According the the National Weather Service in Chicago, these bands of snow were lake-effect induced, but not from Lake Michigan--the snow was due to cold air flowing over warm waters in power plant cooling ponds. Image credit: NASA.
Figure 2. Current Great Lakes ice coverage on January 23, 2013 (top) compared to the average Great Lakes ice coverage during 1973 - 2002 for the January 22 - 28 time period (bottom). This year's near-record warm water temperatures led to below-average ice coverage on the lakes until mid-January, but this week's cold blast has helped them catch up to near-normal ice cover. Image credit: Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL).