Scenes of massive snowfall in Great Lakes communities like Kalamazoo and Buffalo may become a thing of the past. A new study out of the University of Wisconsin suggests the region could see less lake effect snow as soon as the mid-21st century due to climate change. The total amount of precipitation will likely go up, but warmer temperatures and less lake ice means the air blowing east across the lakes will bring rain instead.
From the Post-Standard:
The biggest change from snow to rain would be in November, the study shows, making the massive lake effect storm near Buffalo last month less likely by 2100. That storm dumped 90 inches of snow in some areas in five days. Thirteen people died and more than 100 miles of the New York State Thruway was shut down for days.
[Michael] Notaro's article was published in the Journal of Climate just days before the Buffalo-area storm. He is a senior scientist at the Nelson Institute Center for Climatic Research in Madison, Wisc.
The paradox of lake effect snow, however, is that before it begins to drop off after 2050 it might actually increase for a few decades, according to research by Notaro and Colgate University professorAdam Burnett.
"My original idea was that in the short run, as the lakes become warmer and and lake ice disappears, we would still have enough cold air around to produce lake effect snow," said Burnett, whose 2003 study showed a rise in lake effect snow from Lake Ontario. "You could end up with some pretty serious snows like we saw in Buffalo." Read more***Photo A: Lake effect snow near Buffalo, NY in November. Photo by Michael Garrood.
***Photo B: From WGGB in western Massachusetts.