The Great Lakes region is bracing for significant lake-effect snow, with the National Weather Service forecasting up to 1-2 feet in some areas. This first major event of the season near the Great Lakes makes travel conditions "difficult to impossible."

The heaviest lake-effect snow is expected Monday night into Wednesday morning. The weather service stated on Monday that moderate to heavy lake-effect snow downwind of the Great Lakes is likely to happen. Areas most affected include parts of northern Michigan, northwestern Pennsylvania, and northern New York. Buffalo metro area might escape the worst of the snow.

What is Lake-Effect Snow?

Lake-effect snow forms when cold, dry Arctic air moves over warmer lake waters. This phenomenon, usually seen in fall or early winter, can cause heavy snowfall in narrow bands. If the Great Lakes don't freeze, lake-effect snow can continue into winter and spring. The direction of the wind plays a crucial role in determining where the snow falls.

In November 2014, one of the most significant lake-effect snow events recorded dumped 5 feet of snow near Buffalo, New York, within two days.

According to MSN, dangerous snow storms and lake-effect snow near the Great Lakes are possible in the region. AccuWeather's Alex Sosnowski warns of snow storms over busy highways, comparing them to quick summer showers. These storms can drastically reduce visibility and cause massive chain-reaction accidents.

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While lake-effect snow is a concern near the Great Lakes, the country is experiencing lower temperatures. The weather service predicts highs in the 30s and 40s across New England, the mid-Atlantic, and even the Carolinas. The Midwest and Great Lakes regions will see temperatures in the 20s and 30s. 

Even the West faces unusual cold, with freeze warnings in California. The weather service warns that this cold can damage crops, vegetation, and outdoor plumbing, posing risks to unsheltered individuals and pets.

Lake-Effect Snow Hits New York Hard

Western New York is experiencing its first significant lake-effect snowstorm of the season. This weather event is causing heavy snow accumulation, with some areas expecting over 2½ feet. The lake-effect snow is not just impacting New York; northern Michigan, northeast Ohio, and northwest Pennsylvania also feel the effects as cold air sweeps across the Great Lakes.

In western New York, the lake-effect snow is intense, with thunder and snowfall rates reaching up to 3 inches per hour. The Washington Post reported that this has led to dangerous whiteout conditions in Interstates 90, 86, and 81. Although snow-related incidents occurred on I-90 Tuesday morning, no roads have been closed yet. The bulk of the heavy snow is falling to the south and north of Buffalo, which faced extreme snowstorms around this time last year.

This lake-effect snow system has even brought snow storms to the Mid-Atlantic's interior, impacting visibility in West Virginia and western Maryland. These areas received up to 7 inches of snow, with some flurries reaching the coastline.

However, the lake-effect snow is expected to subside soon. Temperatures in these regions are set to rise above freezing by Thursday, with a warmer weather pattern anticipated into the following week.

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