German Weather Service Says New York Record Snow Due To “Powerful Cold Wave”…Lake Effect Is Natural

The German media are reporting on the massive snowfall hitting Buffalo and parts of New York state, describing the “lake effect” and an “early start of winter”.

Also meteorologist Christian Herold of Germany’s DWD Weather Service writes here how the story begins with the “remains of super-typhoon” Nuri, which developed into a low over Alaska’s Aleutian Islands a week ago and pumped massive amounts of tropical air into the Arctic. This led to an “unusual” air current pattern, with a large high parked over the west coast also pumping warm air into the Arctic. At the same time a powerful low developed over the central and eastern USA and pumped a huge blast of Arctic air deep into the United States.

“Never so cold, so early”

The result, Herold writes, was “a powerful cold wave over a large part of the United States which was as much as 9°C below normal for this time of the year. In some regions it was never so cold so early.”

Natural phenomenon, even occurs in Germany

Herold then describes the Buffalo “lake effect”, how the Arctic cold air mass swept across a relatively warm Lake Erie and picked up huge quantities of moisture and dumping it as snow over New York.  To his their credit, Herold resists the urge to connect it to climate change.

The DWD meteorologist explains that the “lake effect” is a natural phenomenon that is also possible in Germany, but a smaller scale, especially near lake Constance, recalling an episode there in February 2013. It also happens near the Baltic Sea.

Moreover, the DWD warns that thanks to this year’s warmer temperatures over Germany and the relatively warm lakes:

…this winter, thanks to the generally warm water temperatures, we will surely hear about this effect once or more. Something we can look forward to with some excitement.”


12 responses to “German Weather Service Says New York Record Snow Due To “Powerful Cold Wave”…Lake Effect Is Natural”

  1. Pointman

    OT, apologies Pierre, but nominations are now open for Climate Prat of 2014, so if you happen to have a favourite in mind, now’s your chance.


  2. ES

    Returning to ‘The Snowy Seventies’?

    This meteorologist has studied the Great Lakes area storms.

    1. The Indomitable Snowman, Ph.D.

      There’s actually a lot of interesting stuff behind this event.

      Back during WW2 in the Pacific, American meteorologists spend a lot of time trying to deal with typhoons (a major operational hazard for the Navy). They noticed (empirically) a correlation in events; when a typhoon moved west into the east Asian littoral, 6 – 10 days later there was a warm-up in (particularly eastern/central) North America; on the other hand, when a typhoon recurved northward along Japan and toward the Aleutians, 6 – 10 days later there would be a cool-down in (particularly eastern/central) North America. The “typhoon recurvature rule” was useful long before it was well-understood (Joe has occasionally discussed the details in his Saturday summaries).

      The remnants of Super-Typhoon Nori were so strong that they did this – on steroids, and opened the “top” (the pole and Siberia) for a blast of cold air to move into North America.

      The “lake effect” snowfall is a regular feature around the Great Lakes, and it’s usually much worse (in terms of amounts of snow) early in the season – when the lakes are still relatively warm (e.g., they’re something like 48F these days) and any cold air that comes along (being very dry) just sponges up moisture and then dumps it when it hits land. The warmer the water and the colder the air (like has been happening), the bigger the snow-bang for the buck.

      The final thing that made this event so amazing was the direction of the flow of the cold air. When the cold air comes in from the northwest over Lakes Erie and Ontario, you get lake effect snow across a broad region, but the time the air has to pick up moisture is limited. In this event, the cold air basically flowed along the entire lengths of Erie and Ontario – so it had plenty of time to pick up vast gobs of moisture which were then dropped prodigiously on the landward areas. However, in this sort of situation, the bands are very narrow – the places that got hit put up eye-popping numbers, but not very far away very little happened.

      I can’t guarantee that this link will keep working, but the NWS office in Buffalo has this snowfall map from the past couple of days (the tail end of the event) that shows the banding quite clearly.

      (p.s. – Isn’t that more interesting than the angry nonsense that comes out of a “warmist” “scientist”? 🙂

  3. DirkH

    You might remember the EU from such pranks as wanting to reduce CO2 emissions by 40% in 2020 or 2030; making energy prices skyrocket across the EU through enforced subsidation of wind and solar; and mandating energy-saving devices like low power vacuum cleaners.

    Now that didn’t stop them from spending 3.4 million Euros on a project called “MyCopter” that researches how to build personal helicopters for EU proles!

    This is more evidence for my quickly maturing theory of collective brain matter decay as reason for the EU’s behaviour.

  4. L Michael Hohmann

    Well, what else might be expected from people who only deal in ‘weather’ and ‘Weather Models’? If John L Casey’s COLD SUN with his proposed ‘Theory of Relational Cycles of Solar Activity’ will lead to more real ‘Climate Models’, we better stock up on winter woollies. Intro and video links at

  5. ArndB

    @…Lake Effect Is Natural”?
    Sorry, New York Record Snow is about physics. Only real climatologists as Prof. Dr. Mojib Latif understand ‘natural variability’: “……The jet stream can change because of natural reasons.’ (see previous post, 19Nov).

  6. ArndB

    About the function of the „lake effect“ here is an interesting observation made by a scientist from Kew Observatory near London in 1942: “Since comparable records began in 1871, the only other winters as snowy as the recent three (1939-1942), were those of the last war, namely 1915/16, 1916/17, and 1917/18.” (Drummond, 1943, QJoRMetSoc.).
    The immediate question is: How much did naval war around Great Britain contributed?

    1. DirkH

      Arnd, a guy named Charles Nenner talks about a 100 year war cycle. He noted that wars are concentrated around the beginning of each century. E.h. Napoleonic Wars, WW I. Bot had cold winters. Maybe the causation is the other way round – tensions rise as cooling weather affects economies negatively and both cooling and war reach their peak at the same time? Correlation with the 200 year solar cycle, Friese cycle or what’s it called?

  7. Jean V.

    Dear Arnd, I took a look at the site you’ve indicated and I found other interesting facts, too. I’m speaking about the first chapter: “Reiewing the past to understand the future”, which is very well documented: I will mention here just one idea, “The last 100 years are marked by the changeover of a climate system dominated by natural forcing to a climate system dominated by anthropogenic influences (Bronnimann 2008).” It means that our activity on Earth (from industry to war) is influencing all the climate, right?

  8. Brad

    I heard earlier reports that the Great Lakes were 6-degrees cooler than normal. It seems that colder temp would reduce evaporation rates? What is the lake temps after this big event?

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