(WKBN) -As the temperature turns colder this fall, you can expect the Great Lakes to continue to cool down, too.

The water temperature on the lake is closely watched by meteorologists as it is used as a guide to figure out if the lake will be able to produce lake effect clouds and precipitation.

As of today, Oct. 3, 2022, the water temperature for Lake Erie is 64° F off of Cleveland. This is slightly cooler than normal as a typical reading is 66° F this time of the year.

Below you will find the average Lake Erie Water Temperature off of Cleveland, Ohio throughout the year.

The average Lake Erie water temperature off of Cleveland, Ohio throughout the year. Image is from the National Weather Service in Cleveland, Ohio.

Why is the water temperature important?

The water temperature is critical when producing lake effect precipitation.

A big part of the equation when producing lake effect is the difference in temperature (Delta T) between the surface of the water and height threshold into the lower atmosphere. Meteorologists watch this threshold very closely through Lake Effect season.

The key number used is 13° C or 23° F. The numbers are the change in temperature between two layers. This number is used to indicate if lake effect will be possible when used as a difference in temperature between the surface of the water and the temperature that is around 1.5km, or around 5,000ft in the atmosphere.

Think of this number as the magic number to get lake effect going.

Image of lake effect developing from the National Weather Service. www.weather.gov

An example:
If the water temperature off of Cleveland, Ohio was 64° F and the air temperature at 5,000ft in the atmosphere was at 41° F, you could expect lake effect clouds to form. That is if many other variables were in place as well to produce the bands of clouds/precipitation.

If the air temperature was warmer at 5,000ft, the chance for any lake effect would be limited to not even possible as there is not enough of a chance in temperature to grow the clouds thick enough the produce precipitation.

The bigger the change in temperature between the water surface and the 5,000ft level, the more intense the lake effect can become.

If this Delta T (change in temperature) is really big, you may expect heavy snow or rain depending on the air temperature where the precipitation is falling.

There are many other factors such as fetch (length of the wind flow across the lake), and the amount of wind shear (change in wind speed and turning of the wind with height).

The moisture available in the lower atmosphere is also a key factor in cloud development for lake effect.

These factors are included in the forecast process in combination with the change in temperature to start the lake effect forecast for meteorologists.

Tracking the chance for lake effect snow showers into your Thursday
An example of Lake Effect bands setting up across the snowbelt of Northeast Ohio and Northwest Pennsylvania on Future Tracker.

Once the lake becomes ice covered, the amount of lake effect that can be created is extremely reduced but not completely eliminated.