What Exactly Is Lake Effect Snow Anyway? [VIDEO]
People that live near the Great Lakes hear the phrases "lake effect snow" and "lake enhancement snow" many times each winter. Pretty much anyone that lives in this area knows that both mean lots of snow near the lake. What causes this, though? What is the difference between "lake effect" and "lake enhancement"? This video (above) explains both.
The crazy thing about the lake effect phenomenon is that certain areas near the Great Lakes (like the snow belt in Northern Wisconsin and the Michigan Upper Peninsula) can get significant snowstorms out of the blue, sometimes even totally surprising people that watch the day-to-day forecast.
Even crazier - while not too common, this can happen on lakes smaller than the Great Lakes. During early winter, when lakes aren't frozen over, inland lakes can cause lake effect snow on a smaller scale. This happens when we get a cold snap early in the winter season (usually November or early December), leading to lakes to put moisture in the air that will fall as snow downwind from the lake. Lakes like Lake of the Woods, Vermillion, Mille Lacs, and Red Lake are common culprits for inland lake effect snow when this happens.
One such example of this happened in 2017, where some of those Minnesota lakes I mentioned led to some snow downwind.
Now, the next time you hear about lake effect snow or lake enhancement, you'll know exactly why it's happening!