DISCUSSION: As of the past week, millions of people spread across North America either watched in amazement or experienced first-hand what it truly means to encounter the full-force of the mid/upper-atmospheric Polar Vortex circulation. The Polar Vortex circulation is a periodically oscillation Arctic-based circulation which compromises a good portion of the coldest air which exists on planet Earth. Moreover, the Polar Vortex can sometimes split into separate components which are often referred to as “lobes” which can occasionally descend into the mid-latitudes (e.g., parts of North America and/or Europe) and consequently usher in severely cold air which can create dangerous or even life-threatening cold conditions for several days at a time when such an event occurs.
As a result of this cold air moving through portions of the north-central and northeastern United States, this severe cold air intrusion ultimately triggered a major lake effect snow event downwind of both Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. Along with the fact that the respective lake effect snow events were very impressive, they were even more interesting to observe via GOES-16 satellite imagery. Attached above is a neat satellite imagery loop which was recently captured by the GOES-16 satellite imagery shows a neat perspective regarding how various types of clouds can be differentiated based on their respective phase. As you can see in the satellite imagery attached above, the white-colored regions indicated regions of snow cover on the ground, the yellow-colored regions indicate the presence of liquid water clouds, pink-colored regions indicate the presence of ice-based clouds, and green-colored regions indicate the presence of snow-free ground (i.e., just the typical clear surface of the Earth with a great view of the natural regional topography).
This recent GOES-16 satellite imagery just goes to show that this state-of-the-art perspective of winter weather events can show how the cloud types moving across Lake Erie and Lake Ontario shifted from water-based clouds to ice-based clouds in accordance with the development of the corresponding lake effect snow bands. Thus, this goes to show how and why these lake effect snow bands impacted areas in and around Buffalo, New York as well as the Tug Hill Plateau region just to the east of Lake Ontario.
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© 2019 Meteorologist Jordan Rabinowitz