Snowy surprise: Open water on Lake Superior spurs lake effect snow
A swath of open water on Lake Superior that had grown larger in recent days was responsible for a surprise half-foot of snow across parts of Duluth and the North Shore on Wednesday morning.
An east wind wrapping around a big Midwestern storm system provided the energy, and the area of open water on the big lake provided the moisture. The result was 7 inches of fluffy lake effect snow in Lakewood Township, 6.4 inches in Duluth Heights, 6 inches in Two Harbors and north of Duluth and about 4 inches at Duluth International Airport.
"We got some cold air that came in and, with the lake opening up a little and the wind setting up just right, it got us," said Mike Stewart, meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service in Duluth.
The hardest-hit area was a narrow band between Two Harbors and Duluth along the ridge overlooking Lake Superior. In other areas, Carlton and Cloquet had just over an inch, as did Herbster in Wisconsin.
The new snow concealed frozen puddles, ice and potholes that formed from snow that melted on Monday and Tuesday when temperatures were above freezing, causing some difficult driving -- and walking.
Another inch or two of snow was possible overnight as a warm front moves across the region. All of the new snow should start to vanish today, though, as temperatures are forecast to warm back into the 40s.