Lake-Effect Snow in Southwest Michigan

Real Estate Broker/Owner with North Sky Realty LLC 6502410580

Right now as I write this, we are experiencing Lake-effect snow in Southwest Michigan.  Lake-effect snow is a distinctive type of snow that is produced when cooler atmospheric conditions create cold winds which move Lake-Effect Snow in Southwest Michiganacross long expanses of warmer lake water, such as Lake Michigan.  This then provides energy and picks up water vapor which then freezes and is deposited on the leeward shores, or in the case of Southwest Michigan it is on the Eastern Shores of Lake Michigan.  

‘Leeward' is the direction downwind from the source, which is called ‘Windward'.  The windward side of Lake Michigan is Wisconsin, and it comes down from Canada across the lake.  The same effect can happen over bodies of salt water, and this is sometimes called ‘ocean effect snow', ‘sea effect snow', or even ‘bay effect snow'.

The effect is enhanced when the moving air mass is uplifted, and it can thenLake-Effect Snow in Southwest Michigan deposit large amounts of snow on the leeward shores.  This uplifting can produce narrow but very intense bands of precipitation such as snow, ice and sometimes freezing rain, which can deposit at a rate of many inches each hour, resulting in large snowfall totals per hour.

The areas affected by lake-effect snow are called ‘snow belts'. The snow belt of Lake-effect snow in Southwest Michigan runs all along the western shores of Lake Michigan, and as far East into the state sometimes as Ann Arbor, but most often has a cut off somewhere as deep as Kalamazoo and Battle Creek. 

According to Wikipedia "This effect occurs in many locations throughout the world but is best known in the populated areas of the Great Lakes of North America, and especially Western New York, northwestern Pennsylvania, northeastern Ohio, southwestern and central Ontario, northwestern and north central Indiana (mostly between Gary, IN and Elkhart, IN), western Michigan and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, which can average over 200 inches (5 meters) of snow per year and averages the second most snow of any non-mountainous location, just behind the Tug Hill Plateau of New York State, within the continental U.S." 

So right now we are experiencing Lake-effect snow in Southwest Michigan, and are expected to have this condition until Mid-day on Saturday.  The best way to think of it is as a snow pumping machine that sets itself up hovering over Lake Michigan, and it just sprays heavy white snow onto shore. 

When you live here, you begin to be able to distinguish between lake-effect snow and regular ordinary snow falls.  The lake-effect has a consistent steady fall, and is usually a larger flake pattern that seems to just keep going and going. 

For information on Southwestern Michigan Real Estate, contact me at 269-441-8182 or through my website at:

Lake-Effect Snow in Southwest Michigan

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David Burrows
Classic Realty - Fairfax, VA
No Pressure, Just Seriously Devoted to Real Estate

Having lived in Traverse City, I am very much aware of what you are talking about by personal experience. Thanks for refreshing my memory on this seasonal event! - David

Jan 06, 2011 06:23 AM #1
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD
Roy and Dolores Kelley Photographs

Your post makes me very happy that our weather in Maryland is not as severe as yours.  Be careful out there!

 The colors of winter in Maryland. Thin ice on the pond.

Jan 06, 2011 07:18 AM #2
Joshua Zargari
MJ Decorators Workshop LI staging and home decorating - Lynbrook, NY
MJ Decorators Workshop

Hi Michael, nice photos of the snow in you town...

Just stay warm and safe.

Jan 06, 2011 07:49 AM #3
John Mayer
Oikos Realty, Cape Canaveral, Cocoa Beach Florida - Cocoa Beach, FL
Your Beach Area Expert

Michael - I grew up in Toronto and would see the lake effect snow hitting Buffalo on a regular basis. We got our fair share too but that's why I live in Florida now :-)

Jan 09, 2011 02:23 PM #4
Michael Delaware
North Sky Realty LLC - Battle Creek, MI

I have great fun looking at your photos Roy!  You have quite the photographers eye!

Jan 10, 2011 11:09 AM #5
Michael Delaware
North Sky Realty LLC - Battle Creek, MI

David, Joshua and John, the Lake Effect snow is a lot of fun.  Crazy as it seems.  I really like it.

Jan 10, 2011 11:10 AM #6
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