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February 15-18, 1958 Lake Effect Snow Event


Hoosier
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Hi all.  I realize this is a pretty localized topic but I thought I'd share.

This is part of a project that I had started working on years ago but then abandoned.  Anyway, I thought I would share some info about this particular occurrence because as far as I can tell, it is one of the top lake effect snow events to occur off of southern Lake Michigan.  

As the thread title says, it happened back in mid February 1958.  The synoptic pattern was not an unfamiliar one for significant lake effect snow events off of southern Lake Michigan, featuring a low pressure system moving up the east coast with high pressure attempting to move into the area.  This set up a long northerly to north-northwesterly low level fetch with some duration.  I will post a series of surface/500 mb maps and 850 mb temperature/wind vector maps covering the period from Feb 15-18.

Obviously it's a bit of a guessing game on what the thermodynamics were like over the lake, but we can figure that there may have been at least some ice coverage due to it being mid-February and it not being an unusually warm winter up to that point.  Assuming water temperatures in the low 30s Fahrenheit, which are common values over southern Lake Michigan at that time of year, it would have resulted in lake-850 mb temp differentials peaking in the mid 20s C.  Based on how the maps below look, it's likely that the band(s) of snow would have been wiggling around some, preventing even larger amounts, but obviously still impressive.

According to CDNS, which was the forerunner publication to Storm Data, snowfall amounts of 40" were estimated around Michigan City, IN.  Although measuring may not have been the easiest (as suggested by how high the drifts got), this estimate seems quite believable as La Porte, IN recorded 33" of snow on just under 3" of precip between the 15th-18th, and they are located a good 15 miles inland.  

 

 

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The setup was starting to break down later on the 18th with rapidly warming 850 mb temps over Lake Michigan:

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Here's a map of snowfall amounts during the period.  It is underdoing total amounts in the band (probably due to the localized nature), but it gives a general idea of where it occurred.  Just add on some.

 

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