Lake Effect Snow

Lake Effect Snow
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The GOES-13 satellite captured this image over the Great Lakes region on November 18, 2014. A massive lake effect snowstorm buried the area in several feet of snow. The Great Lakes (red outlines) are barely visible beneath the snow and thick cloud cover.

Occurring from November to February, lake effect snow forms when cold air masses move over warmer lake waters. As the water heats the cold air, moisture evaporates into it, turning it into warm, moist air. The warm air rises and begins to cool. As it cools, the moisture condenses, forming clouds and creating snow.

Lake effect snow can produce blizzards with white-out conditions across large sections of the Great Lakes region, from South Bend, Indiana to Buffalo, New York.