Numerical Study of the Influence of Environmental Conditions on Lake-Effect Snowstorms over Lake Michigan

View More View Less
  • 1 Institute of Atmospheric Sciences, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Rapid City, South Dakota
© Get Permissions
Full access

Abstract

Numerical simulations are used to examine the influence of environmental parameters on the morphology of lake effect snowstorms over Lake Michigan. A series of model sensitivity studies are performed using the Colorado State University mesoscale model to examine the effects of lake–land temperature difference, surface roughness, atmospheric boundary layer stability, humidity, and wind speed and direction on the morphology of simulated storms.

Four morphological types of lake effect snowstorms have been identified: (i) Broad area coverage, which may become organized into wind parallel bands or cellular convection; (ii) shoreline bands with a line of convection roughly parallel to the lee shore and a well developed land breeze on the lee shore; (iii) midlake band with low-level convergence centered over the lake; and (iv) mesoscale vortices with a well-developed cyclonic flow pattern in the boundary layer.

The model is able to reproduce all four morphological types. Simulations varying environmental parameters independently define the thermodynamic and wind conditions for the occurrence of each morphological type. In particular, the limiting conditions of lake–land temperature difference, upwind wind speed stability, and humidity for development of a land breeze on the east side of Lake Michigan are defined for lake snow conditions. The effects of wind direction, surface roughness, and latent heat release are also described.

Abstract

Numerical simulations are used to examine the influence of environmental parameters on the morphology of lake effect snowstorms over Lake Michigan. A series of model sensitivity studies are performed using the Colorado State University mesoscale model to examine the effects of lake–land temperature difference, surface roughness, atmospheric boundary layer stability, humidity, and wind speed and direction on the morphology of simulated storms.

Four morphological types of lake effect snowstorms have been identified: (i) Broad area coverage, which may become organized into wind parallel bands or cellular convection; (ii) shoreline bands with a line of convection roughly parallel to the lee shore and a well developed land breeze on the lee shore; (iii) midlake band with low-level convergence centered over the lake; and (iv) mesoscale vortices with a well-developed cyclonic flow pattern in the boundary layer.

The model is able to reproduce all four morphological types. Simulations varying environmental parameters independently define the thermodynamic and wind conditions for the occurrence of each morphological type. In particular, the limiting conditions of lake–land temperature difference, upwind wind speed stability, and humidity for development of a land breeze on the east side of Lake Michigan are defined for lake snow conditions. The effects of wind direction, surface roughness, and latent heat release are also described.

Save