Lake-effect snow moves through Oologah and Keystone Lakes

Posted at 8:14 PM, Feb 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-12 15:27:10-05

TULSA, Okla. — It's rare in Oklahoma, but lake-effect snow can occur thanks to our big lakes if all the ingredients come together.

We observed lake effect snow coming off Keystone and Oologah on Thursday. The lakes are oriented northeast/southwest, so you need a northeast wind (coming from the northeast) that will efficiently blow over a good chunk of the body of water.

Then you must have a temperature difference. You need frigid air on land around the lake with air just above the lake/water temperature warmer. The wind blows colder air over the warmer lake, and the warmer air begins to rise. You need a rising motion to get clouds to form, and then eventually, the snow will form.

As time goes along, the snow will increase downwind of the lake thanks to the constant winds, and the pattern can last many hours. On weather radar, you'll notice a little band forming over the central/southern area of a lake, and then the band will extend southward for miles.

In our case, the snow from Oologah Lake made it 30 miles downwind into the Tulsa metro, producing enhanced snowfall rates. That can lead to more accumulation in a localized area. If the wind direction changes just a little, it can shut down the lake effect band.

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