Saturday, September 17, 2011

Is This Lake Effect?

It is not uncommon to see convection, sometimes in the form of cells, other times in the form of bands, initiating downstream of the Great Salt Lake in westerly flow.  At issue is if the lake plays any role at all in initiating these bands, if they are a reflection of orographic lift, or whether it is pure happenstance that the convection triggers downstream of the lake.

Case in point was this morning when there was some fairly strong convection downstream of the Great Salt Lake near Ogden.

An hour or two later, I took this photo looking north toward Ogden from the Bonneville Shoreline Trail, showing a wimpy cloud band extending eastward into an apparent orographic cloud over the Wasatch Range.

What are the roles of the lake, orographic, and large-scale processes in a case like this?  I think these westerly flow cases are amongst the most perplexing we have in northern Utah.

BTW, the view to the west was simply spectacular and largely cloud free, although that could be do to large-scale processes as much as lake influences (it's Saturday and I'm just doing a quick post and not looking in depth at this case).

 If you have never visited this part of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail, do it.  It is one of my favorite places to ride because of the views, and there is continuing pressure to develop this area.

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