By: Jason Maska (Mentored by David Kristovich Ph.D)
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
While intense long lake-axis parallel (LLAP) lake effect snow events generally affect the south and east coasts of Lake Michigan, occasional bands bring impacts to the west coast due to their changing position and varying coastal intensity leading to difficulty in forecasting. West coast events can result from development of a vortex (often changing the band’s shape and providing on-shore flow along the western coast of the lake), or longitudinal fluctuation of LLAP lake effect snow band movement. Over the course of three winter seasons between 2013-2016, the examinations of 9 separate events were used in order to understand the nature and movement of these storms. Results of the analyses of local (radar imagery, near-shore surface observations) and regional (850mb, 700mb) conditions will be displayed for multiple examples of common scenarios. Examples may include westward shift in LLAP lake effect snow bands, movement from Northern Lake Michigan to the Southwestern coast, and embedded vortices. Results of the frequency and conditions in which west coast lake effect snows were observed could help improve forecasts and warnings for densely populated cities in that region such as Milwaukee, WI and Chicago, IL.