On February 11th, 2012, I woke up to 13 inches of fresh snowfall. The night before my driveway had all of half an inch of snow on it, and I was shocked to say the least! What multiplied my amazement even more was that an extremely narrow band of lake effect snow (no more than 5-10 miles across) was dumping this snow on my poor little town along Lake Michigan at an alarming rate. By the end of the event we had over 20 inches of snow on the ground.
I managed to capture some of it while snow-blowing the driveway for the second time that day, and I turned it into a video story problem that I hope might be useful as a way to introduce the concept of weather or lake effect weather patterns in a science classroom.
While I understand the powerful effect of Lake Michigan on my local weather, I’ve found that quite often people who aren’t from one of the Great Lake states really have a difficult time understanding just what some of the largest fresh water lakes in the world can do. I did my best to sound genuinely curious, and not provide too much misinformation or misconceptions, although I suspect you could easily use a video filled with misconceptions to get your students looking for the “right” answer to a question or two about a concept. I figured that since our rather pathetic winter weather here in Michigan this year is winding down, it might be nice to share that those of us in a tiny corner of southwest Michigan did in fact have at least one decent dumping of snow.