Warm Lake Michigan a factor in early season snow

Posted at 5:54 PM, Dec 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-07 17:59:42-05

WEST MICHIGAN -- After one of the warmest falls on record across much of the FOX 17 viewing area, early season lake effect snow could get a boost. That's because Lake Michigan is much warmer than it normally is at this time of year.

"We've been consistently running above the normals and running above the past couple of years when it comes to the lake average surface temperatures," said Jared Maples, a Meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Grand Rapids.

Arctic air crossing a warmer than average Lake Michigan can lead to a more unstable environment, which is favorable for heavy lake effect snow. That is, if the other factors come into place.

Wind direction, moisture, conditions in the upper atmosphere, and a variety of other factors also determine how favorable the environment is for heavy lake effect snow.

The warmer than average lake waters may not last that long, either.

"Because if we get a really cold December and we're consistently cold and we get cloud cover, then we can watch the surface temperatures cool off quite quickly," Maples said.