Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Affected By The Lake Effect?

Around here, we live on the edge, the edge of the snowbelt. If the winds shift ever so slightly to the north and east, the lake effect snow will dump on us instead of to the east of Cleveland where the seasoned snowbelters live. What is the lake effect you ask? Ah, it's the dreaded word in the winter forecast before Lake Erie has a chance to freeze over. Let me explain.

Lake effect snow happens when a cold front moves in and picks up moisture from the open waters of Lake Erie and dumps it on shore in the form of snow during the winter. Since the usual wind direction is from the northwest, the suburbs and areas just east of Cleveland get the fluffy white stuff in abundance.

Lake Erie is very shallow and usually around mid-January will begin to freeze with a covering that will eventually be a foot to two feet of ice. Now this is great if you are an avid ice fisherman as my father was. He'd tow an ice shanty out onto the lake (yes, by car), cut a hole, pull the shanty over it and set his lines down for those treasured perch. The mid-January freeze is also great at keeping the lake effect snow at bay since the ice covering keeps those weather fronts from picking up the moisture. 
While I really don't care for the cold frigid winters here, I care even less for being snowed in. The older I get, the less tolerance I have. Guess I need to sprout some wings and go south with the other Snobirds or learn to hibernate like the bears. 

There are several other places in the world where there is lake effect other than the Great Lakes. I've heard it referred to as sea effect too. Anyone else living on the edge this winter?


  1. I get Lake Michigan lake effect - but not as much as the folks RIGHT on the coast. I'm a bit inland. Not crazy about being snowed in either :)

  2. And we got the other side of the lake Michigan effect the two days before Christmas. I did not mind being snowed in one little bit. :)

  3. We haven't been snowed in for years - we hope for it each year. I feel as if my grands are getting gypped. LOL.We used to be snowed in for two - three days at a time with the roads closed. We'd bundle up like eskimos,pack the kids on a sled, trek across the lake, and spend the days with my in-laws playing cards, eating big meals, and "camping out" on their living room floor. If the electricity went, that only added to the excitement. (Of course, we prepared for such an event.) We still get crazy lake effect bands here. It can be a foot of snow in my community, two feet in South Bend, and a few miles in the other direction just a ground covering.


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