Lake Effect Snow Clouds

April 12, 2012

LakeEffectClouds121109b

Photographer
: Don Duggan-Haas; Organization: PRI & its Museum of the Earth   
Summary Author: Don Duggan-Haas; Jim Foster

Seeing lake effect clouds like these is not unusual for late fall, winter or even early spring in western New York, or other areas on the lee side of any of the U.S. Great Lakes. Lake effect clouds form when cold air moves across warmer lakes. The lake transfers heat and water vapor to the cold air mass. If it's sufficiently cold, lake effect snow results. Lake Erie often freezes over in the later winter causing the lake effect snow machine to shut down. With a warming climate, and consequently later dates when lakes freeze up, it's postulated that lake effect snows will increase. However, such was not the case this past winter when Lake Erie was nearly ice-free. Many observing stations in western New York set their all time least-snowy winter record. Photo taken on December 11, 2009.

Photo details: The photo panorama is a composite of several images taken with a Nikon Coolpix P60. No tripod was used. I simply stepped out on my front porch, and took a series of pictures as I panned across the horizon. Images were stitched using Stoik PanoramaMaker for the Mac.