Snow and topography

B. Geerts and E. Linacre


Snow and mountains

Frontal disturbances with a low cloud base (i.e. high surface humidity) dump most of their precipitation on the upwind side of a high mountain ridge. Snow amounts are usually highest on the mountain ridge, or just downwind of the ridge. In fact large amounts of snow are sometimes found far in the lee of a mountain ridge, for several reasons.


Snow and lakes

There are notable snowstorms downwind (i.e. to the east) of the Great Lakes of North America, even though the downwind shores are essentially flat. This lake-effect snowfall occurs mostly at times when the skies are clear upwind.



(1) Klimowski, B.A., R. Becker, E.A. Betterton, R. Bruintjes, T.L. Clark, W.D. Hall, B.W. Orr, R.A. Kropfli, P. Piironen, R. Reinking, D. Sundie, and T. Uttal, 1998. The 1995 Arizona Program: toward a better understanding of winter storm precipitation development in mountainous terrain. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 79, 799-813.