Cold Conditions Will Fuel Several Eastern Snow Chances Into This Weekend, Including Heavy Lake-Effect Near Buffalo

Chris Dolce
Published: December 7, 2017

The atmosphere has flipped to a winterlike appearance east of the Rockies this week, and with that comes the potential for increased snow chances in several regions.

Following Monday's blizzard in the northern Plains will be bands of heavy lake-effect snow downwind of the Great Lakes snow belts the next few days.

Portions of the East Coast, Midwest and the South could all potentially see flakes flying late this week and into the weekend as disturbances ripple through a southward dip in the jet stream.

(MORE: Cold to Continue into Mid-December)

Heavy Lake-Effect Snow

Cold air flowing over the top of the relatively warmer Great Lakes waters has kicked off the first significant lake-effect snow event of the season in the eastern Great Lakes region.

Bands of heavy lake-effect snow developed Wednesday downwind of lakes Erie and Ontario in western and upstate New York.


Current Conditions and Radar

The snowfall affected the Wednesday evening commute in parts of the Buffalo metro area, where thundersnow was reported Wednesday afternoon.

The heaviest lake snow is now expected to shift into the Buffalo Southtowns with moderate to heavy snowfall rates throughout Thursday, leading to major travel impacts there.

Lake-effect snow may continue in the eastern Great Lakes snowbelts into Friday morning.

(MORE: Winter Storm Central)


Lake-Effect Snow Forecast Through Thursday

Total accumulations through late this week could be 1 to 2 feet in areas that see the most persistent bands of snow east of lakes Erie and Ontario.

The National Weather Service has issued lake-effect snow warnings for locations immediately east and southeast of Lake Erie, south of Buffalo, in western New York. 

A lake-effect snow warning is also in effect for locations east of Lake Ontario, including Watertown, New York, and the Tug Hill Plateau. Winter weather advisories extend east into the Adirondacks.

Bands of wind-whipped, heavy lake-effect snow are also expected in the lake snowbelts of northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula through Thursday, followed by another round Friday into the weekend. As of early Thursday morning, up to a foot of snowfall has been reported in Seney, Michigan

(MORE: The Great Lakes Amazing Lake-Effect Snow Records)

Additional Eastern Snow Chances Ahead?

There are also chances for snow in other parts of the East late this week, though a major storm is not in the forecast at this time.

First, moisture riding north of a weak area of low pressure in the Gulf of Mexico Thursday night through Friday could result in some wet snow or sleet across parts of the South. This includes areas from Louisiana to portions of Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas.

The forecast is uncertain, but there could be some slushy accumulations in grassy areas.

(MORE: Snow Expected in the Deep South)

Moisture from the wave of low pressure could then graze parts of the East Coast with light snow Friday into the weekend. This is not expected to be a major snow event because the track of the low will be too far offshore and weak.

Locations from the coastal mid-Atlantic, possibly as far south as North Carolina, to parts of eastern New England, however, could see snow or a rain/snow mix Friday into Saturday night.


Eastern Flakes Late Week?

It's too early to know if there will be any light accumulations since it will depend on how much moisture interacts with the cold air over the Northeast. The overlap between those two ingredients will be dictated by the track of the low in relation to the coast, which is uncertain.

However, chances appear to be increasing for some light snow along the coast, especially in eastern New England Saturday night.

Boston, New York City and Philadelphia have not recorded measurable snow (0.1 inches or greater) yet this season. This is not unusual since those cities typically see their first measurable snow from the end of November to mid-December.

(MORE: When the First Snow Typically Arrives)

Late this week, we'll also see an upper-level system pivot from the Midwest toward the Appalachians, squeezing out more flakes in parts of the Great Lakes, Midwest, Ohio Valley, mid-South and the Appalachians Friday into the weekend.


Saturday's Forecast

Some light accumulations in the system's path are likely, but details remain uncertain. This could be the first accumulating snow of the season for cities such as Indianapolis, Detroit, Cincinnati, Ohio, and Pittsburgh.

Check back with weather.com through the week for updates. For now, here's where you can find our latest daily forecast maps for late this week.


The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.

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