Development of a lake snow intensity index: A case study

Authors: Arthur Samel*, Bowling Green State University, Adam Burnett, Colgate University, Christopher Karmosky, SUNY Oneonta, Justin Hartnett, SUNY Oneonta
Topics: Climatology and Meteorology, Cryosphere, Water Resources and Hydrology
Keywords: snow, lake effect, intensity index, synoptic climatology
Session Type: Virtual Guided Poster
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Virtual 54
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Intense “lake effect” snowfall occurs to the lee of the Great Lakes when cold air travels over the much warmer lakes. This study develops a Lake Snow Intensity (LSI) index based on circulation and thermodynamic “centers of action” that are identified with the occurrence of heavy lake effect snowfall at a single location in the Tug Hill Plateau of New York State, which is located downwind of Lake Ontario. Daily snowfall data for the period 1995-2019 are analyzed to identify 210 days when snowfall exceeded the NWS winter storm warning criterion of nine inches during a 24-hour period. North American Regional Reanalysis (NARR) 3-hourly data for circulation and thermodynamic variables are then used to identify the centers of action over a spatial domain that encompasses the Great Lakes region. A principal components analysis (PCA) with a varimax rotation of sea level pressure is first performed to determine the primary patterns that occur during heavy snow events. A composite analysis of the remaining NARR fields based on the largest/smallest scores for each PC is then used to isolate the centers of action. A HYSPLIT back trajectory analysis is also used to determine both fetch and residence time over Lake Ontario preceding each event and provide a measure of lake contributions to vapor flux and instability. Finally, a multiple regression analysis is performed to develop the LSI, which is based on the centers of action and back trajectories, where the LSI is proportional to daily snowfall amount.

Abstract Information

This abstract is already part of a session. View the session here.

To access contact information login