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Effect of Lake Ontario on Precipitation

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  • 1 The Center for the Environment and Man, Inc., Hartford, Conn. 06120
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Abstract

Radar and raingage data collected during the International Field Year for the Great Lakes were used to determine the effect of Lake Ontario on precipitation patterns. Objective analysis techniques were used to combine the radar and gage data.

During the warm season the relatively cold lake frequently suppressed afternoon shower activity, particularly when the showers were not associated with large-scale well-organized weather systems. When the showers were scattered, the land portion of the watershed received 402% more rain than the lake compared to 14% more for widespread rain. During the cold season, the lake frequently stimulated precipitation when the 850 mb temperature was more than 7°C colder than the lake.

While the lake influenced the precipitation patterns for about half the days, the total effect on precipitation amounts was small. The lake-effect days were generally those with small-area average amounts. The total warm season rainfall for land areas within 30 km of the lake was 10% more than the lake. For the cold season, the land received 2% less than the lake. There was an orographic component to the precipitation over the far eastern end of the lake and land. Removal of the orographic component tends to reduce the warm season land-to-lake difference while increasing the cold season difference.

Abstract

Radar and raingage data collected during the International Field Year for the Great Lakes were used to determine the effect of Lake Ontario on precipitation patterns. Objective analysis techniques were used to combine the radar and gage data.

During the warm season the relatively cold lake frequently suppressed afternoon shower activity, particularly when the showers were not associated with large-scale well-organized weather systems. When the showers were scattered, the land portion of the watershed received 402% more rain than the lake compared to 14% more for widespread rain. During the cold season, the lake frequently stimulated precipitation when the 850 mb temperature was more than 7°C colder than the lake.

While the lake influenced the precipitation patterns for about half the days, the total effect on precipitation amounts was small. The lake-effect days were generally those with small-area average amounts. The total warm season rainfall for land areas within 30 km of the lake was 10% more than the lake. For the cold season, the land received 2% less than the lake. There was an orographic component to the precipitation over the far eastern end of the lake and land. Removal of the orographic component tends to reduce the warm season land-to-lake difference while increasing the cold season difference.

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