|The effects of a lake effect storm in North Redfield, NY|
in December, 2013. Photo by Carol Yerdon/Syracuse.com
Tonight's lake effect, though, is shaping up to be a doozy.
Lake effect snows depend upon the contrast between the relatively warm lake water and cold air above it.
It's still early in the season, so the lake water temperature is still in the upper 40s. The atmosphere tonight will become one in which the temperature drops rapidly with height.
This will lead to incredible amounts of instability, ensuring quite a lake effect snow.
The lake effect will probably set up in two single bands of heavy snow, one coming off Lake Erie and hitting near or just south of Buffalo, and another band coming off Lake Ontario and slamming into areas near and south of Watertown, New York.
Within these bands, expect howling winds, snow falling at a rate of several inches an hour, thunder, lightning, zero visibility and roads blocked by drifts. What fun!
These snow bands are so interesting in that underneath them, it's chaos, and then drive five or ten miles north or south of the center of these snow bands and all is calm. No snow. Starlit skies, you get the drift. (Ha!)
Of course, you really shouldn't be driving through lake effect snows, what with the zero visibility, the drifts that could reach a few feet deep, the cold, the wind. Stay home. It's safer.
But I bet there will be storm chasers in these lake effect snows tonight.
The lake effect in New York should taper off during Tuesday, but there might be other bouts of heavy lake effect snow later this week.
If you're a snow lover, though, head to those places in New York that get socked by snow tonight.
By the way, the snow bands will be so strong that some snow will probably make it all the way to the northern Green Mountains of Vermont. Nothing extreme up there, but those mountains should get a few inches of snow out of this.
Valleys should see nothing more than a dusting. Maybe an inch in some spots. And that's not counting the slushy coating of snow we're getting this morning as a storm system passes by.