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Scientists Gather Locally to Study Lake Effect Snow

Armed with mobile radar, weather balloons and a specially-equipped aircraft, scientists from around the country are gathering on the shores of Lake Ontario this week to get a better understanding of lake effect snow.

Bart Geerts, professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Wyoming, says the data collected here should help forecasters better predict when and how much lake effect snow will fall. "It gives us new insights as to how it is that these bands organize to produce locally very heavy snowfall, why it is that they are so persistent downwind of the lakes, sometimes producing snowfall hundreds of miles downwind of the lakes."

Geerts says they also hope to better understand how "upwind" lakes such as Lake Huron and Georgian Bay in Canada affect the initiation of snow banks over Lake Ontario.  The scientists from about ten universities around the country will be conducting their research through late January.

Incidentally, Western New York is not the only part of the world known for its lake effect snow.  Geerts says Japan sees some very heavy snowfall when cold air from Siberia flows over the relatively warm Sea of Japan.


Beth Adams joined WXXI as host of Morning Edition in 2012 after a more than two-decade radio career. She was the longtime host of the WHAM Morning News in Rochester. Her career also took her from radio stations in Elmira, New York, to Miami, Florida.