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Intense lake effect snow wallops Upstate New York, encasing homes in a thick layer of ice

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An intense lake effect snow raged across Upstate New York on February 28, 2020, leaving areas along Lake Erie entirely covered in ice– in some areas up to 4 m (12 feet) thick. Residents described the conditions as surreal, remarking that it was the first time ice coatings had been that severe.

The population of Hamburg, which is situated on the edge of Lake Erie woke up to find their homes perfectly enclosed in thick ice.

"It looks fake, it looks unreal," said one resident named Ed Mis. "It's dark on the inside of my house. It can be a little eerie, a little frightening."

Mis has lived in the town for the past eight years, and while the neighborhood has experienced thick ice coatings before, he said this particular event was the first time it has been this extreme.

He added that his backyard was even worse at it was engulfed in 4 m (12 feet) of frozen water. "I actually had to go out a secondary door and then chisel my way back into the house by breaking the ice."

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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"We're worried about the integrity, of structure failure when it starts to melt, because of the weight on the roof," said Mis, noting that the aftermath may possibly cause damage to the houses.

"It's a beautiful sight, but I don't want to live through it again."

Another resident named Lise Kreuder said she has never seen conditions this surreal since the 1980s, and that it was affecting her home.

"My garage floor is started to show cracks," Kreuder stated. "Last night we took in a small amount of water."

On Saturday, February 29,  exactly 1.2 m (4 feet) of snow was recorded in Carthage in Jefferson county, while Copenhagen in Lewis county saw 1.1 m (3.6 feet).

A powerful winter storm brought blizzard conditions to upstate New York, causing lake effect snow. This phenomenon occurs when cold winter air moves over a relatively warm body of water– just like what happened when the system moved over Lake Erie.

"As a cold, dry air mass moves over the Great Lakes region the air picks up lots of moisture from the Great Lakes," said National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL).

"This air, now full of water, dumps the water as snow in areas generally to the south and east of the lakes."

Featured image credit: Ed Mis

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