The Snow Belt is a region in North America that surrounds the Great Lakes. It is characterized by heavy snow in a form known as lake-effect. Lake-effect snow is described as a phenomenon where cold air is blown over a warm water body, for instance, a lake, and the cold air through its movement takes up moisture. The moisture then precipitates to form snow as it cools as the air moves over land. Snowbelts usually occur on the downside of lakes mostly off the southern and eastern shores. The lakes create cloudy skies for the better part of the winter. This continues for as long as water temperatures are warmer than air temperatures to facilitate the lake-effect process or until the lake finally freezes as a result of low temperature in the winter.
In the United States, there are several regions where snowbelts are located from the Lake Erie region of Cleveland to New York. The snowbelt region then stretches from Rochester in New York to Utica and Watertown in the northern region of New York. Other snowbelts outside New York are found on the shore of Lake Michigan on the eastern side to parts of Northern Michigan and southwards towards Lake Superior as well as the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. In Canada, some parts of Ontario are snowbelt regions including the southern and eastern shores of Lake Huron, Parry Sound, Georgia Bay, and London.
Activities in Snowbelt Regions
Snowfall which is prevalent in the snowbelt regions has created an opportunity for some activities which include health skiing. Skiing sites have been set up in these parts especially near big cities, for instance, Buffalo in New York and Toronto in Ontario. Ski resorts where fun-seekers can indulge in snow activities are a huge attraction in the winter for residents of these cities, and most of these activities usually culminate to competitive sports.
Problems Arising From Snowbelts
When a lake in the snowbelt region freezes due to plummeting temperatures, the lake effect is alleviated, and this leads to a situation where strong winds blow over such a lake increasing the likelihood of potentially disastrous winter storms or blizzards since the winds blow snowflakes that can be carried over long distances. This was the case for the city of Buffalo after Lake Erie froze and winds blew snow towards the city during the Great Lakes Blizzard of 1977.
Outside North America
While snowbelt regions are more common in the US and Canada, they are not just limited to these areas. These conditions are also found in Asia including Japan's snow country and the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia. Cold winds blow from a high-pressure system of Siberia outward picking up moisture on its course as it blows over the Sea of Japan and Okhotsk. The moisture is released as heavy snowfall over the land areas where the wind passes through. Some parts of Sweden are also affected by snowbelt conditions although it is tied to periods marking the onset of winter.