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Surge Of Arctic Air To Bring Threat Of Snow Squalls To Northeast

The lake-effect snow machine will start up again due to a burst of Arctic air.

Residents across the Great Lakes and interior Northeast hoping to get a jump start on spring cleaning this weekend will need to adjust their plans accordingly as a surge of Arctic air will get the gears of the lake-effect snow machine cranking once again.

The Great Lakes have already produced some major snow events going back to the fall and early winter, including two historic lake-effect snowstorms that impacted the Buffalo, New York, area in November and December. While the incoming snow this weekend will not come close to the ferocity of the early-winter snowstorms, it will likely produce snow squalls that can prove to be just as dangerous for anyone who is caught outdoors when one develops.

“Winter will push in hard in the Great Lakes, with cold and wind that will generate flurries and snow showers that could ramp up to squall-like levels,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dean Devore stated.

The arrival of the Arctic air will begin to churn up some lake-effect snow downwind of lakes Superior, Michigan and Huron by Friday night. On Saturday, cold air funneling over Lake Erie and Lake Ontario will begin to produce intense snow showers across a wide swath of upstate New York and northern Pennsylvania.

The combination of cold air and wind gusts of 40-60 mph will produce some of the chilliest conditions so far this winter. AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures can fall 15-25 degrees below the actual air temperature.

Cities within the threat zone for squally conditions on Saturday include Marquette and Grand Rapids, Michigan; Erie, Pennsylvania; and Buffalo. ACCUWEATHER

The blustery weather can also cause snow showers to reach areas far away from the Great Lakes this weekend, including portions of interstates 79, 81, 86, 90, 94 and 96. Snow squalls could cause visibility to plummet suddenly, raising the risk of multi-vehicle crashes on roadways.

Less than 10% of the Great Lakes were covered in ice as of March 17, according to NOAA data. Forecasters say the lack of ice coverage on the lakes increases the chances for lake-effect snow to develop. Lake-effect snow occurs when colder air pours over comparatively warmer bodies of water, setting up a process in which snow can develop.

Less than 10% of the Great Lakes were covered in ice as of Mar 17, 2023, according to NOAA data. NOAA ACCUWEATHER

Although some of the most intense snow showers and squall activity are expected during the daytime hours on Saturday, accumulating snow on any roadways may be tough to come by outside of where the most persistent snow falls.

“Temperatures could be near or even slightly above freezing during the day on Saturday in parts of western Pennsylvania and New York as squalls and heavier snow showers move in. However, even in areas where roads remain just wet, the squalls can still make for dangerous travel conditions during the afternoon as they can quickly reduce visibility,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Pydynowski stated.

As the sun sets and the temperatures drop on Saturday evening, it could allow snow to stick to some roads, making for slippery driving conditions where the snow showers persist into Saturday night.

This burst of lake-effect snow will not last all weekend. AccuWeather meteorologists say an expansive area of high pressure shifting across the Midwest will bring an end to the snow and strong winds on Sunday.

Produced in association with AccuWeather

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