A blast of Arctic air will move through the Great Lakes region by Wednesday, leading to cooler air but also a shift in the winds. That change in the direction of the winds looks to be favorable for some hefty lake-effect snow bands during the latter part of this week.

The threat for lake-effect snow begins Wednesday afternoon. Two light snow bands may develop sometime over the course of the afternoon, one from Lake Erie and the other originating from Lake Ontario. The main event will really get started Thursday, as the fetch of west-southwesterly winds grows stronger and colder air intrudes. That gradient of the cold air moving over the relatively warm lake water make conditions for prime for significant snowfall totals.

The two distinct bands will become wider and heavier on Thursday, continuing into Friday. Below, you’ll see the forecast from the European model on Thursday, highlighting those two bands.

EURO Precipitation Type on Thursday

Snowfall rates may be as high as three to even four inches per hour just east of the lake. Whiteout conditions are likely, and driving is not recommended in these snow bands. The jackpot snow totals will likely be just south of Buffalo (NY) and on the Tug Hill Plateau in upstate New York. This region is where up to one and a half feet of snow is forecast to fall through Friday. I also want to note that the lake-effect snow band coming off of Lake Erie may span from Buffalo southward all the way to Cleveland.

Lake-effect snow set up

This lake-effect snow will wind down by the weekend, but may ramp back up early next week.


Jackson is Head of Content and Social Media at WeatherOptics. He is currently a student at the University of Miami, studying Meteorology and Broadcast Journalism. Dill produces forecast articles for the website and helps to manage the content schedule. He has also led the growth of WeatherOptics’ social media accounts, working to keep them aligned with the company’s evolving vision.

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