What is lake effect snow?

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TOOELE, Utah (ABC4 News) – With another storm dropping snow on the Wasatch Front, we went to the University of Utah to learn more about a weather pattern very familiar in and around Tooele.

Lake effect snow.

It happens when a cold air mass moves over a relatively warm body of water.

In this case, the Great Salt Lake.

As that cold air goes over the water, it begins to gain heat and moisture, which can lead to snowfall.

“It’s going to be narrow in its extent,” said Tyler West, a Ph.D. student at the University of Utah.

“It’s not going to be covering a large East to West area, it’s going to be fairly narrow,” added West.

Many storms are “enhanced” by the lake, but relatively few are actually defined as “lake effect snow.”

“It’s generally around five percent over multiple years of snow that falls comes from lake effect,” said West.

“Where we can say, okay — this is a lake effect snow case,” he added.

Learn more about lake effect snow here.

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