Lake Enhanced Snowfall

February 27th, 2013 at 5:07 pm by under Weather

Lake Michigan played a huge role in burying the lakeshore in snow last night and early today. The computer models are called guidance and most of the time they guide you in the right direction, but it is the meteorologists that make the forecast. When I made this forecast I knew that there would be lake enhanced snow along the lakeshore, but I had under-forecast the intensity and amounts.

The graphic above is the NAM model snowfall forecast from yesterday. The greens indicate 4-6 inches.Above is the GFS model from yesterday. Again, the greens are indicating 4-6 inches.

Above is the Hi Resolution WRF snowfall forecast from yesterday. The blues and yellows are indicating only 2-4 inches along the lakeshore.


The occluded storm system that brought the snow to the area gave the computer models fits for days. Despite the large scale struggles the computer models did a good job for Green Bay and the Fox Cities. For most of us, wind was the main impact, but the snow was a huge issue right along the lakeshore.

This is my snowfall forecast from yesterday. I anticipated the models were under forecasting the snow along the lakeshore because of the RPM model that is produced by our weather product vendor. It is a high resolution model that we show on tv often.

This is the reality of what fell around the area from snow reports today. The computer models were all terrible on the location and intensity of the lake enhancement. The privately produced RPM model, significantly outperformed the standard US model suite. That is a regular occurrence so I wasn’t surprised by that. But even the RPM had the heaviest snow south of Sheboygan and mainly centered on Milwaukee.

Please understand that I know where the problem lies. I am going to start initializing and running our own in house microcast computer model that concentrates on Lake Michigan and the surrounding shoreline counties and the bayshore. The lake is a huge factor in the weather around here and the major computer models are not handling this feature well enough. A high resolution model might help us here at FOX 11 significantly improve our lakeside forecasting and the process of creating the model has already begun.



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One Response to “Lake Enhanced Snowfall”

  1. Tyler says:

    This is great considering the last “major” snow storm we were supposed to get hit with (I live in Manitowoc) we got nothing but rain.

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