John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
It's one of the most striking lake-effect snowstorms in recent memory.
On Tuesday in Buffalo, you could bask in the sun in one place and shiver in a screaming blizzard in another. That's because a massive current of snow had poured off Lake Erie, and was crashing over the region like a sky-high avalanche.
This turbulent weather is one of the more arresting examples of lake-effect snow—when the warm, moisture-rich waters of a lake interact with frigid air aloft to create great plumes of snowfall. Such a snow blast is often extremely localized, meaning you could drive through it in a matter of minutes. The narrow, dense signature of the lake effect is on display in this satellite image from today:
And again in this radar loop posted Tuesday evening:
This radar loop in Buffalo is bleeping insane. Meteorology textbooks should save this lake effect loop. WOW. http://t.co/r1ZYbd7gAR— PhillyWx.com (@phillywx) November 18, 2014
The ongoing lake-effect storm was right on schedule, as they tend to blow in from November to February. And it had locals scrambling for cover in whiteout conditions, with driving banned on many roads and the National Guard coming in to help with the recovery. According to The Buffalo News, in some places this "may turn out to be a six footer." Here's what the snow-wall looked like sweeping in today:
Another cool photo showing the outer fringe of the lake-effect snow band impacting south Buffalo. Via Edgar Madrid. pic.twitter.com/ToRkU2AjqJ— Tim Ballisty (@IrishEagle) November 18, 2014