Biggest Little City in the World Sees Huge Lake Effect Snow
Lake effect snow is generally reserved for forecasting in the Great Lakes, but Monday brought a taste of the phenomenon to the west. Lake Tahoe set the stage for heavy bands of snowfall in Reno, Nevada on Monday night.
Lake effect snow happens as a fetch of cold air travels over a comparatively warmer body of water. The wind picks on moisture and heat off of the lake, making the air less dense causing it to rise. As the air rises, water vapor condenses, creating clouds and eventually snowfall. The additional moisture provided by the lake greatly increases snowfall totals.
The forecast for Reno originally called for 2-4″ inches under a Winter Weather Advisory. However, south-southwesterly winds over Lake Tahoe pumped up snowfall rates to 2-4″ an hour. In a matter of just six hours, the National Weather Service office in Reno recorded 8″ of accumulation. That’s more snow than the entire winter of 2014/15! The western side of the metro area saw the worst of the narrow band of heavy snowfall. An additional 1-3″ of snow are possible Tuesday as the snow system impacting the entire western U.S. moves through.
For WeatherNation: Meteorologist Karissa Klous