Lake Effect – A Video Story Problem

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.


  1. I really appreciated your video problem! I am a first grade teacher in Hawaii, and while I am not ready to teach my students about lake-effect snow, it was an educational experience for my students anyway! My students, many of which have never seen snow, were amazed by how much snow there was, and I used the video as a measurement assignment for my class. Thank you very much for your video! I would like to pursue using this media to produce math and science problems for my students, especially if I can compile video from other areas to introduce my students to a wide range of concepts and experiences.
    Thank you again!

    1. You have no idea how much that excited me to hear that students down in Hawaii were using the resource I created, thanks! We actually had a very similar weather system move through again yesterday, dumping about 4 inches on us, while no one around us had any snow 🙂

      I hope that you and your students enjoy creating some interesting video story problems! If you’d like to share them, I’d love to see them on the Video Story Problem channel! (

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