Talk about “lake effect.”
The weather system that delivered a dusting of snow over Minnesota and record-setting snowfall in the East was captured in an impressive satellite photo posted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The photo shows a phenomenon called “cloud streets” that stretched across the Great Lakes region on Christmas Day.
“These parallel rows of clouds, known as ‘cloud streets’ streaming over the Great Lakes on Christmas Day 2017 … helped deliver record-setting snowfall in Erie, Pa., where more than 60 inches of snow fell over a two-day period.”
Strong westerly winds over Lake Erie picked up moisture, developed into snow and converged with opposing winds, dumping snow in a band along the shore from Ohio to New York, said Zach Sefcovic, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Cleveland.
Sabrina Ram drove into Erie on Christmas Eve to visit her parents just as the snow began to fall. Ram, who lives in suburban Washington, D.C., and her father spent five hours on Christmas and two hours on Tuesday clearing the driveway.
"In D.C., we'd be out of commission for weeks," Ram said. "Things here are pretty much back to normal now."
In New York, communities near Lake Ontario's eastern end, including Redfield and Boylston, also saw around 5 feet of snow this week.
Officials said the storm's timing was good, since people were off the streets and staying home for Christmas, giving plows more space to clear streets.
By Wednesday, Erie's roads were relatively clear, emergency calls were relatively slow and the big task was digging out, County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper said.
"We're used to a lot of snow here in Erie, but this is unprecedented, the amount we got," Dahlkemper said.
STAR TRIBUNE STAFF