Climatology of Lake-Effect Precipitation Events over the Great Salt Lake, UT

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Sunday, 17 January 2010
Exhibit Hall B2 (GWCC)
Benjamin Albright, Howard University, Washington, DC; and J. Popp and N. F. Laird

Lake-effect snowstorms associated with the Great Salt Lake (GSL) present a considerable forecasting challenge and have been shown to produce localized precipitation resulting in noteworthy societal impacts. To improve forecasting, previous studies have identified atmospheric conditions that typically result in the development of lake-effect snows over the GSL; however, climatological investigation has been insufficient concerning the seasonal and interannual frequency of GSL events. The current investigation seeks to enhance the climatological understanding of GSL lake-effect events. WSR-88D Level II and Level III data for the Salt Lake City, UT (KMTX) radar were used to identify lake-effect events which occurred during the winters (October-March) of 1997/98 through 2008/09. A total of 122 lake-effect precipitation events were identified during the 12-winter time period. The frequency of lake-effect events for the GSL will be compared with past GSL studies and results from other lake-effect studies of small lakes in the northeastern United States, specifically Lake Champlain and the New York State Finger Lakes. In addition, the characteristics of 97 events that contained a short-duration “streamer” of radar reflectivity originating from the GSL will be examined. Lastly, an unexpected event which resulted in the development of a lake-effect vortex on 29 October 2002 over the GSL will also be discussed.