What Is The ''Lake Effect''?

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By By Steve Pool

SEATTLE - You've probably heard of Lake Effect Snows along the Great Lakes. It's caused by cold arctic air moving over a warm body of water (like Lake Erie) and picking up moisture. The moisture is then dumped in the form of heavy snow squalls along the (frigid) lake shoreline.

But you might not have heard of "Strait Effect" snow. Snow events are rare here, but during the big snow of 1996, the north Olympic Peninsula received a good dose of "Strait effect" snow.

There, you have the frigid winds blowing toward the southwest out of the Fraser Valley. Those winds go over the relatively warm Strait of Juan de Fuca. Then, when the air reaches Sequim and Port Angeles, it rises up the Olympic Mountain slopes, and squeezes out its moisture as extra snowfall.

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