FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) — Parts of the Great Lakes and western New York have been dealing with a long-lasting lake effect snow event.
The lake effect snow has caused intense, white-out conditions which started Wednesday and it is expected to wind down Saturday.
Lake effect snow happens when cold air, usually from Canada, blows over a warm body of water.
The air rises and clouds form, which then produces narrow bands of snow.
Typically these bands will produce 2-3 inches of snow per hour or more.
Moisture and heat from Lake Superior and Lake Huron have been fueling lake effect snow bands from across the eastern Upper Peninsula to locations downwind of Lake Ontario.
That is more than 500 miles long.
Moisture and heat from Lakes Superior and Huron are feeding into a massive lake effect band that's stretching from near Eastern Upper Michigan to the Tug Hill Plateau downwind of Lake Ontario! The line looks broken thanks to radar beams overshooting the snow band. pic.twitter.com/pNX4s8QO8i
— NWS Gaylord (@NWSGaylord) February 28, 2020
Snow and windy conditions obstructed the view of the Mackinac Bridge near St. Ignace, Michigan.
Parts of northern Michigan are expected to see up to six inches of snow through Friday evening before the lake effect snow machine turns off.
— The Mackinac Bridge (@mackinacbridge) February 28, 2020
Meanwhile, some locations along Lake Ontario and Lake Erie have already picked up over 2 feet of snow.
Watertown, New York is buried under 28.3 inches of snow while Copenhagen has seen 28.5 inches.
Snowfall accumulations of 3-4 feet can be expected across parts of upstate New York by Saturday.
Near zero visibility and #Blizzard like conditions continue in the Watertown area. Jefferson and Lewis County have travel advisories up and travel is nearly impossible in some areas of the North Country. In short - it's a good day to stay home, stay warm and stay safe. pic.twitter.com/H4TtDSEWRk
— NYSDOT North Country (@NYSDOTWatertown) February 28, 2020
The lake effect snow machine has been very active this year. The mild winter has resulted in lower ice cover on the Great Lakes. Without the ice cover, heavy lake effect snow becomes likely. As of Thursday, total Great Lakes ice coverage is at 10% which is 59% lower than this time last year. Lake Michigan is only 11% ice covered while Lake Hurion is at 18%, Lake Ontario is at 3% and Lake Erie has none.
For more local weather information, head over to our weather page.