Synoptic Conditions and Lake-to-Lake Connections for Days with Lake Effect on All of the Great Lakes

Neil F. Laird aDepartment of Geoscience, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, New York

Search for other papers by Neil F. Laird in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
,
Caitlin C. Crossett bDepartment of Atmospheric Sciences, University of North Carolina Asheville, Asheville, North Carolina

Search for other papers by Caitlin C. Crossett in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
,
Catherine J. Britt cDepartment of Earth, Geographic, and Climate Sciences, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, Massachusetts

Search for other papers by Catherine J. Britt in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
,
Nicholas D. Metz aDepartment of Geoscience, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, New York

Search for other papers by Nicholas D. Metz in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
,
Kelly Carmer dDepartment of Ocean Engineering and Marine Sciences, Florida Institute of Technology, Melbourne, Florida

Search for other papers by Kelly Carmer in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
, and
Braedyn D. McBroom eDepartment of Geosciences, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas

Search for other papers by Braedyn D. McBroom in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
Restricted access

Abstract

An investigation of lake effect (LE) and the associated synoptic environment is presented for days when all five lakes in the Great Lakes (GL) region had LE bands [five-lake days (5LDs)]. The study utilized an expanded database of observed LE clouds over the GL during 25 cold seasons (October–March) from 1997/98 to 2021/22. LE bands occurred on 2870 days (64% of all cold-season days). Nearly a third of all LE bands occurred during 5LDs, although 5LDs consisted of just 17.1% of LE days. A majority of 5LDs (56.5%) had lake-to-lake (L2L) bands, and these days comprised 43.5% of all L2L occurrences. 5LDs occurred with a mean of 26.1 (SD = 6.2) days per cold season until 2008/09 and then decreased to a mean of 13.8 (SD = 5.5) days during subsequent cold seasons. January and February had the largest number of consecutive LE days in the GL with a mean of 5.7 and 5.4 days, respectively. As the number of consecutive LE days increases, both the number of 5LDs and the occurrence of consecutive 5LD increase. This translates to an increased potential of heavy snowfall impacts in multiple, localized areas of the GL for extended time periods. The mean composite synoptic pattern of 5LDs exhibited characteristics consistent with lake-aggregate disturbances and showed similarity to synoptic patterns favorable for LE over one or two of the GL found by previous studies. The results demonstrate that several additional areas of the GL are often experiencing LE bands when a localized area has active LE bands occurring.

© 2024 American Meteorological Society. This published article is licensed under the terms of the default AMS reuse license. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Neil F. Laird, laird@hws.edu

Abstract

An investigation of lake effect (LE) and the associated synoptic environment is presented for days when all five lakes in the Great Lakes (GL) region had LE bands [five-lake days (5LDs)]. The study utilized an expanded database of observed LE clouds over the GL during 25 cold seasons (October–March) from 1997/98 to 2021/22. LE bands occurred on 2870 days (64% of all cold-season days). Nearly a third of all LE bands occurred during 5LDs, although 5LDs consisted of just 17.1% of LE days. A majority of 5LDs (56.5%) had lake-to-lake (L2L) bands, and these days comprised 43.5% of all L2L occurrences. 5LDs occurred with a mean of 26.1 (SD = 6.2) days per cold season until 2008/09 and then decreased to a mean of 13.8 (SD = 5.5) days during subsequent cold seasons. January and February had the largest number of consecutive LE days in the GL with a mean of 5.7 and 5.4 days, respectively. As the number of consecutive LE days increases, both the number of 5LDs and the occurrence of consecutive 5LD increase. This translates to an increased potential of heavy snowfall impacts in multiple, localized areas of the GL for extended time periods. The mean composite synoptic pattern of 5LDs exhibited characteristics consistent with lake-aggregate disturbances and showed similarity to synoptic patterns favorable for LE over one or two of the GL found by previous studies. The results demonstrate that several additional areas of the GL are often experiencing LE bands when a localized area has active LE bands occurring.

© 2024 American Meteorological Society. This published article is licensed under the terms of the default AMS reuse license. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Neil F. Laird, laird@hws.edu
Save
  • Alcott, T. I., W. J. Steenburgh, and N. F. Laird, 2012: Great Salt Lake–effect precipitation: Observed frequency, characteristics, and associated environmental factors. Wea. Forecasting, 27, 954971, https://doi.org/10.1175/WAF-D-12-00016.1.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Bard, L., and D. A. R. Kristovich, 2012: Trend reversal in Lake Michigan contribution to snowfall. J. Appl. Meteor. Climatol., 51, 20382046, https://doi.org/10.1175/JAMC-D-12-064.1.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Brown, R. A., T. A. Niziol, N. R. Donaldson, P. I. Joe, and V. T. Wood, 2007: Improved detection using negative elevation angles for mountaintop WSR-88Ds. Part III: Simulations of shallow convective activity over and around Lake Ontario. Wea. Forecasting, 22, 839852, https://doi.org/10.1175/WAF1019.1.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Brunnschweiler, D. H., 1952: The geographic distribution of air masses in North America. Vierteljahrschr. Naturforsch. Ges. Zurich, 97, 4249.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Burnett, A. W., M. E. Kirby, H. T. Mullins, and W. P. Patterson, 2003: Increasing Great Lake–effect snowfall during the twentieth century: A regional response to global warming? J. Climate, 16, 35353542, https://doi.org/10.1175/1520-0442(2003)016<3535:IGLSDT>2.0.CO;2.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Dewey, K. F., 1977: Lake-effect snowstorms and the record breaking 1976–77 snowfall to the lee of Lakes Erie and Ontario. Weatherwise, 30, 228232, https://doi.org/10.1080/00431672.1977.9931836.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ellis, A. W., and D. J. Leathers, 1996: A synoptic climatological approach to the analysis of lake-effect snowfall: Potential forecasting applications. Wea. Forecasting, 11, 216229, https://doi.org/10.1175/1520-0434(1996)011<0216:ASCATT>2.0.CO;2.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ellis, A. W., and Z. J. Suriano, 2022: A hybrid dataset of historical cool-season lake effects from the eastern Great Lakes of North America. Front. Water, 4, 788493, https://doi.org/10.3389/frwa.2022.788493.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ellis, A. W., M. L. Marston, and J. B. Bahret, 2021: Changes in the frequency of cool season lake effects within the North American Great Lakes region. Ann. Amer. Assoc. Geogr., 111, 385401, https://doi.org/10.1080/24694452.2020.1785270.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Grumm, R. H., and R. Hart, 2001: Standardized anomalies applied to significant cold season weather events: Preliminary findings. Wea. Forecasting, 16, 736754, https://doi.org/10.1175/1520-0434(2001)016<0736:SAATSC>2.0.CO;2.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hankes, I. E., and J. E. Walsh, 2011: Characteristics of extreme cold air masses over the North American sub-Arctic. J. Geophys. Res., 116, D11102, https://doi.org/10.1029/2009JD013582.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hartig, K., E. Tziperman, and C. P. Loughner, 2023: Processes contributing to North American cold air outbreaks based on air parcel trajectory analysis. J. Climate, 36, 931943, https://doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-22-0204.1.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hartnett, J. J., 2021: A classification scheme for identifying snowstorms affecting central New York State. Int. J. Climatol., 41, 17121730, https://doi.org/10.1002/joc.6922.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hartnett, J. J., J. M. Collins, M. A. Baxter, and D. P. Chambers, 2014: Spatiotemporal snowfall trends in central New York. J. Appl. Meteor. Climatol., 53, 26852697, https://doi.org/10.1175/JAMC-D-14-0084.1.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Hersbach, H., and Coauthors, 2018a: ERA5 hourly data on pressure levels from 1940 to present. Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) Climate Data Store (CDS), accessed 14 June 2022, https://doi.org/10.24381/cds.bd0915c6.

  • Hersbach, H., and Coauthors, 2018b: ERA5 hourly data on single levels from 1940 to present. Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) Climate Data Store (CDS), accessed 21 June 2022, https://doi.org/10.24381/cds.adbb2d47.

  • Hersbach, H., and Coauthors, 2020: The ERA5 global reanalysis. Quart. J. Roy. Meteor. Soc., 146, 19992049, https://doi.org/10.1002/qj.3803.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kalkstein, L. S., and P. Corrigan, 1986: A synoptic climatological approach for geographical analysis: Assessment of sulfur dioxide concentrations. Ann. Assoc. Amer. Geogr., 76, 381395, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8306.1986.tb00126.x.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kalkstein, L. S., M. C. Nichols, C. D. Barthel, and J. S. Greene, 1996: A new spatial synoptic classification: Application to air‐mass analysis. Int. J. Climatol., 16, 9831004, https://doi.org/10.1002/(SICI)1097-0088(199609)16:9<983::AID-JOC61>3.0.CO;2-N.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kristovich, D. A. R., and R. A. Steve III, 1995: A satellite study of cloud-band frequencies over the Great Lakes. J. Appl. Meteor., 34, 20832090, https://doi.org/10.1175/1520-0450(1995)034<2083:ASSOCB>2.0.CO;2.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kristovich, D. A. R., and M. L. Spinar, 2005: Diurnal variations in lake-effect precipitation near the western Great Lakes. J. Hydrometeor., 6, 210218, https://doi.org/10.1175/JHM403.1.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kristovich, D. A. R., L. Bard, L. Stoecker, and B. Geerts, 2018: Influence of Lake Erie on a Lake Ontario lake-effect snowstorm. J. Appl. Meteor. Climatol., 57, 20192033, https://doi.org/10.1175/JAMC-D-17-0349.1.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Kunkel, K. E., N. E. Westcott, and D. A. R. Kristovich, 2002: Assessment of potential effects of climate change on heavy lake-effect snowstorms near Lake Erie. J. Great Lakes Res., 28, 521536, https://doi.org/10.1016/S0380-1330(02)70603-5.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Laird, N. F., J. Desrochers, and M. Payer, 2009a: Climatology of lake-effect precipitation events over Lake Champlain. J. Appl. Meteor. Climatol., 48, 232250, https://doi.org/10.1175/2008JAMC1923.1.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Laird, N. F., R. Sobash, and N. Hodas, 2009b: The frequency and characteristics of lake-effect precipitation events associated with the New York State Finger Lakes. J. Appl. Meteor. Climatol., 48, 873886, https://doi.org/10.1175/2008JAMC2054.1.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Laird, N. F., N. D. Metz, L. Gaudet, C. Grasmick, L. Higgins, C. Loeser, and D. A. Zelinsky, 2017: Climatology of cold season lake-effect cloud bands for the North American Great Lakes. Int. J. Climatol., 37, 21112121, https://doi.org/10.1002/joc.4838.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lang, C. E., J. M. McDonald, L. Gaudet, D. Doeblin, E. A. Jones, and N. F. Laird, 2018: The influence of a lake-to-lake connection from lake Huron on the lake-effect snowfall in the vicinity of lake Ontario. J. Appl. Meteor. Climatol., 57, 14231439, https://doi.org/10.1175/JAMC-D-17-0225.1.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Liu, A. Q., and G. W. K. Moore, 2004: Lake-effect snowstorms over southern Ontario, Canada, and their associated synoptic-scale environment. Mon. Wea. Rev., 132, 25952609, https://doi.org/10.1175/MWR2796.1.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Low, Y., J. R. Gyakum, and E. Atallah, 2022: Extreme winter precipitation regimes in eastern North America: Synoptic-scale and thermodynamic environments. Mon. Wea. Rev., 150, 18331850, https://doi.org/10.1175/MWR-D-21-0255.1.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mann, G. E., R. B. Wagenmaker, and P. J. Sousounis, 2002: The influence of multiple lake interactions upon lake-effect storms. Mon. Wea. Rev., 130, 15101530, https://doi.org/10.1175/1520-0493(2002)130<1510:TIOMLI>2.0.CO;2.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Metz, N. D., Z. S. Bruick, P. K. Capute, M. M. Neureuter, E. W. Ott, and M. F. Sessa, 2019: An investigation of cold-season short-wave troughs in the Great Lakes region and their concurrence with lake-effect clouds. J. Appl. Meteor. Climatol., 58, 605614, https://doi.org/10.1175/JAMC-D-18-0177.1.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Niziol, T. A., 1987: Operational forecasting of lake effect snowfall in western and central New York. Wea. Forecasting, 2, 310321, https://doi.org/10.1175/1520-0434(1987)002<0310:OFOLES>2.0.CO;2.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Niziol, T. A., W. R. Snyder, and J. S. Waldstreicher, 1995: Winter weather forecasting throughout the eastern United States. Part IV: Lake effect snow. Wea. Forecasting, 10, 6177, https://doi.org/10.1175/1520-0434(1995)010<0061:WWFTTE>2.0.CO;2.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Notaro, M., V. Bennington, and S. Vavrus, 2015: Dynamically downscaled projections of lake-effect snow in the Great Lakes basin. J. Climate, 28, 16611684, https://doi.org/10.1175/JCLI-D-14-00467.1.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Paxton, A., J. T. Schoof, T. W. Ford, and J. W. F. Remo, 2021: Extreme precipitation in the Great Lakes region: Trend estimation and relation with large-scale circulation and humidity. Front. Water, 3, 782847, https://doi.org/10.3389/frwa.2021.782847.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Petterssen, S., and P. A. Calabrese, 1959: On some weather influences due to warming of the air by the Great Lakes in winter. J. Meteor., 16, 646652, https://doi.org/10.1175/1520-0469(1959)016<0646:OSWIDT>2.0.CO;2.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Rodriguez, Y., D. A. R. Kristovich, and M. R. Hjelmfelt, 2007: Lake-to-lake cloud bands: Frequencies and locations. Mon. Wea. Rev., 135, 42024213, https://doi.org/10.1175/2007MWR1960.1.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Shadbolt, R. P., E. A. Waller, J. P. Messina, and J. A. Winkler, 2006: Source regions of lower-tropospheric airflow trajectories for the lower peninsula of Michigan: A 40-year air mass climatology. J. Geophys. Res., 111, D21117, https://doi.org/10.1029/2005JD006657.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Smith, E. T., and S. C. Sheridan, 2018: The characteristics of extreme cold events and cold air outbreaks in the eastern United States. Int. J. Climatol., 38, e807e820, https://doi.org/10.1002/joc.5408.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sousounis, P. J., 1997: Lake aggregate mesoscale disturbances. Part III: Description of a mesoscale aggregate vortex. Mon. Wea. Rev., 125, 11111134, https://doi.org/10.1175/1520-0493(1997)125<1111:LAMDPI>2.0.CO;2.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sousounis, P. J., and H. N. Shirer, 1992: Lake aggregate mesoscale disturbances. Part I: Linear analysis. J. Atmos. Sci., 49, 8096, https://doi.org/10.1175/1520-0469(1992)049<0080:LAMDPI>2.0.CO;2.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sousounis, P. J., and G. E. Mann, 2000: Lake-aggregate mesoscale disturbance. Part V: Impacts on lake-effect precipitation. Mon. Wea. Rev., 128, 728745, https://doi.org/10.1175/1520-0493(2000)128<0728:LAMDPV>2.0.CO;2.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Sousounis, P. J., J. Wallman, G. E. Mann, and T. J. Miner, 2001: “Hurricane Huron”: An example of an extreme lake-aggregate effect in autumn. Mon. Wea. Rev., 129, 401419, https://doi.org/10.1175/1520-0493(2001)129<0401:HHAEOA>2.0.CO;2.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Suriano, Z. J., 2019: Changing intrasynoptic type characteristics and interannual frequencies of circulation patterns conducive to lake-effect snowfall. J. Appl. Meteor. Climatol., 58, 23132328, https://doi.org/10.1175/JAMC-D-19-0069.1.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Suriano, Z. J., and D. J. Leathers, 2017a: Synoptic climatology of lake-effect snowfall conditions in the eastern Great Lakes region. Int. J. Climatol., 37, 43774389, https://doi.org/10.1002/joc.5093.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Suriano, Z. J., and D. J. Leathers, 2017b: Synoptically classified lake-effect snowfall trends to the lee of Lakes Erie and Ontario. Climate Res., 74, 113, https://doi.org/10.3354/cr01480.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Suriano, Z. J., and R. D. Wortman, 2021: Temporal trends in snowfall contribution induced by lake-effect synoptic types. Phys. Geogr., 42, 416433, https://doi.org/10.1080/02723646.2020.1792048.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Veals, P. G., and W. J. Steenburgh, 2015: Climatological characteristics and orographic enhancement of lake-effect precipitation east of Lake Ontario and over the Tug Hill Plateau. Mon. Wea. Rev., 143, 35913609, https://doi.org/10.1175/MWR-D-15-0009.1.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Villani, J. P., M. L. Jurewicz Sr., and K. Reinhold, 2017: Forecasting the inland extent of lake effect snow bands downwind of Lake Ontario. J. Oper. Meteor., 5, 5370, https://doi.org/10.15191/nwajom.2017.0505.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Weiss, C. C., and P. J. Sousounis, 1999: A climatology of collective lake disturbances. Mon. Wea. Rev., 127, 565574, https://doi.org/10.1175/1520-0493(1999)127<0565:ACOCLD>2.0.CO;2.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wiggin, B. L., 1950: Great snows of the Great Lakes. Weatherwise, 3, 123126, https://doi.org/10.1080/00431672.1950.9927065.

  • Wiley, J., and A. Mercer, 2020: An updated synoptic climatology of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario heavy lake-effect snow events. Atmosphere, 11, 872, https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11080872.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wiley, J., and A. Mercer, 2021: Synoptic climatology of lake-effect snow events off the western Great Lakes. Climate, 9, 43, https://doi.org/10.3390/cli9030043.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 516 516 34
Full Text Views 101 101 15
PDF Downloads 160 160 22