6 feet of snow in Buffalo: What causes lake-effect storms like this?

It’s hard for most people to imagine 6 feet of snow in one storm, like the Buffalo area saw over the weekend, but such extreme snowfall events occasionally happen along the eastern edges of the Great Lakes.

The phenomenon is called “lake-effect snow,” and the lakes play a crucial role.

It starts with cold, dry air from Canada. As the bitter cold air sweeps across the relatively warmer Great Lakes, it sucks up more and more moisture that falls as snow.