What Causes Buffalo-Area Snow Totals and Lake-Effect Snow

The lake effect snow event is expected to “paralyze” the amount of snow in the western New York area over the next few days. The National Weather Service predicted up to 4 feet in some areas, and AccuWeather said an incredible 6 feet of snow was not outside the realm of possibility.

“Buffalo and its southern suburbs could see 3 to 6 feet of snow through Sunday,” said AccuWeather meteorologist Matt Benz. “This event has the potential to be the worst of these two periods.”

Here’s how much snow has fallen as of 5 pm EST Friday:

How much snow is there now?

The NFL announced Thursday that Sunday’s game between the Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills has been moved from Buffalo to Detroit’s Ford Field because of a blizzard. Here’s how much snow has fallen in the Buffalo area so far, compared to quarterback Josh Allen who stands 6-feet-5 inches:

What is lake-effect snow?

Lake-effect snow usually picks up in late November and December, before the lake water freezes. Air and water temperatures, along with wind speed and direction, determine how much snow falls in a given location.

Lake effect snow can last for a few minutes or several days. It develops from a narrow band of clouds that form when cold, dry arctic air passes over a large, relatively light lake.

The weather service said that as cold air passes over the uncharged and “warm” waters of the Great Lakes, heat and moisture are transferred to the lowest part of the atmosphere. The air rises, and clouds form and grow in narrow bands that produce 2 to 3 inches of snow an hour or so.

More: Lake-effect snowfall targets ‘paralyzing’ western New York; Could fall up to 6 feet, forecasters warn

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