Year in review 2013: Early lake effect snow
SOUTH BEND, IN – Early lake effect snow made headlines across Michiana in mid and late November. Up until November 11th-12th the month was running at or above average on temperatures, then the first of a frequent pattern of arctic cold fronts moved through Michiana.
As with all lake effect scenarios, cold air moves over relatively warm waters of Lake Michigan, causing low level convection and produces highly localized bands of snow. This was one of the more highly potent scenarios as lake water temperatures were still in the 40s and air temperature in the 20s.
The first round of lake effect snow in mid November impacted an area only 25 miles wide and 50 miles long through Berrien and LaPorte Counties. Snow totals ranged from 17” in St. Joseph, Michigan to over 8” in LaPorte and just over an inch in South Bend.
The second round came late in the month, but with similar results. Eastern Berrien / western Cass counties in Michigan and St. Joe County in Indiana saw the brunt of this snow squall. Totals ranged between six and 12 inches in the hardest hit spots, with localized higher amounts including 16” in Coloma, Michigan.
In typical lake effect fashion both events were characterized by “The Haves” and “ Have Nots.” In some areas ten miles could be the difference between a foot or an inch or less of snow.
The early snowfall was a rude and too early start to winter for some, causing many accidents and keeping plow drivers busy. This was also the start of a prevailing weather pattern that kept below normal temperatures and above normal snowfall into December.