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December 23, 2004

Lake Effect Snow on Earth

Credit: SeaWiFS Project, NASA

Explanation: What are those strange clouds stretching out from these lakes? The clouds are caused by cold air moving over a warm water and result in bands of lake-effect snow. The rising bands of moistened, warmed air that drop lake-effect snow alternate with clear bands of falling cold air. During a winter, such bands can create hundreds of centimeters of snow more than upwind areas only a hundred kilometers away. During this lake-effect snowfall of 2000 December 5, practically all of the state of Michigan, USA got covered. A cold northwesterly wind over Great Lakes Superior and Michigan created the unusual clouds. The above image was taken with NASA's SeaWiFS satellite.

December 23, 2004 in Photography | Permalink


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It is the lake-effect snowload off Erie that made the city of Buffalo NY a joke to the rest of NY State a few decades ago. You took a piece of paper, drew a line across it and claimed it was a picture of Buffalo. I was there once when you had to dig out the parking meter to put money in it -- and not because of plowing, either. Since the prevailing winds are westerly, it was just a bad place to put a city -- except in the days of Great Lakes shipping, when apparently it was well worth it. The glory days of Buffalo really existed -- it hosted a fine World's Fair -- and illustrate how fickle are fair economic winds generated by technology.

Posted by: judith | Dec 23, 2004 10:30:14 AM

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