Yes, it sounds counter-intuitive. How can you have more snow, earlier in the season with a warming climate?
An oversimplified explanation goes like this.
- Warmer climate = warmer water in Lake Erie
- Arctic warming = a wavier jet stream pushing unseasonably cold arctic air mass into the eastern U.S.
- Unusually cold air masses and unusually warm lake water temps = extreme temperature contrast of 50 degrees between lake surface and air mass
- Extreme temperature contrast = more intense lake effect snowfall rates of 3 to 5 inches per hour with 60-plus inch snowfall totals
May 19, 2016 | Journal of Great Lakes Research
A new look at lake-effect snowfall trends in the Laurentian Great Lakes using a temporally homogeneous data set
May 19, 2016 | American Meteorological Society
Trends in twentieth-century US snowfall using a quality-controlled dataset
May 16, 2016 | American Meteorological Society
Increasing Great Lake–Effect Snowfall during the Twentieth Century: A Regional Response to Global Warming?
Feb 15, 2016 | American Meteorological Society
Temporal and Spatial Variability of Great Lakes Ice Cover, 1973–2010