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Lake-effect snow to pile up downwind of the Great Lakes this weekend

AccuWeather logo AccuWeather 11/8/2018 alex.sosnowski

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The first widespread and heavy lake-effect snow event of the season is set to roll for the Upper Midwest and interior Northeast from Friday night to Saturday.

A storm set to produce snow and a wintry mix on its front side to end this week will drag much colder air in on the back side and spread that cold air well to the south and east during this weekend.

As that cold air passes over the warm waters of the Great Lakes, clouds will build and form streets of snow showers, known as lake-effect snow.

Under the right conditions, these snow showers can extend 100 miles or more downwind of the Great Lakes. Where these bands of snow persist, a heavy amount of snow can fall.

People living in or traveling through the Great Lakes region should make sure their vehicle is set for wintry driving conditions.

Even where bands of snow only briefly shift through some communities and stretches of highways, that snow can bring a dangerous, sudden drop in visibility and cause roads to become slippery in a matter of minutes.

While the bulk of the snowfall will occur on non-paved surfaces, enough snow will fall to make roads slushy and snowcovered in some cases with this event. The slippery conditions will be most common on, but not limited to, bridges and overpasses along portions of Interstate 75 in northern Michigan, I-81 in northern New York state, I-90 in central and western New York state and I-196 in western Michigan.

"As far as accumulations are concerned, parts of northern Michigan and areas of New York state from north of Syracuse to south of Watertown, known as the Tug Hill Plateau region, have a good chance at picking up close to a foot of snow," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brian Wimer.

"Some of the snow belts farther south in northwestern Indiana, northwestern Pennsylvania and western New York, for example, can expect 1-3 inches in general with locally higher amounts possible," Wimer said.

Download the free AccuWeather app to see if and how much snow is forecast to fall for your area.

During Friday night, locally heavy lake-effect snow bands are likely to develop in northwestern Indiana, northern Wisconsin and across much of Michigan.

The lake-effect snow will fall on top of several inches of snow from the first part of the storm during Thursday night to Friday over the upper Great Lakes.

During Saturday and Saturday night, lake-effect snow will develop from northeastern Ohio to parts of western Pennsylvania, western Maryland, the West Virginia mountains and western, central and northern New York state.

Lake-effect snow is forecast to shut off from west to east as the weekend progresses.

The snow is likely to diminish Saturday afternoon and evening from Indiana to northern Michigan, then later Saturday night and Sunday morning farther to the east.

However, a clearing sky may allow temperature to plunge. Some surfaces that were made wet by lake-effect snow and do not have a chance to dry off are likely to freeze at night as the coldest air of the season so far takes hold.

Motorists should assume that any wet patches are indeed icy Saturday night.

Another blast of cold air and lake effect is poised to follow a storm with rain and snow early next week.

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