DETROIT (WWJ) – Here in Michigan, we’ve all experienced lake effect snow — but you’ve probably never seen it like this before.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released a satellite image Wednesday that shows what lake effect snow really looks like from above.
The satellite captured parallel rows of clouds, known as “cloud streets” streaming over the Great Lakes on Christmas Day 2017. These cloud formations helped deliver record-setting snowfall in Erie, Pa., where more than 60 inches of snow fell over a two-day period.
Researchers say the cloud streets are common over the Great Lakes in early winter, as frigid arctic air from Canada crosses the relatively warm lake water. NOAA explains:
“As winds from the west or northwest blow over the lakes, the cold air picks up warmth and water vapor from the lake surface, giving rise to columns of heated air called thermals. When the rising, warmer air hits the colder air above, it condenses into cumulus clouds, then cools and sinks on either side, creating parallel cylinders of rotating air that line up in the direction of the prevailing winds over the lakes. At times when there is a large temperature contrast between the surface air and lake water, these cloud formations can deliver heavy lake effect snows on the downwind shores of the lakes.”
The satellites also captured video of ice moving and expanding on Lake Superior.
Nothing beats winter in Pure Michigan!