(WKBN) – It is the time of the year when lake effect becomes a big player in the weather throughout our region of the country.

You will hear your local meteorologist talking about the chance for rain or snow in the snowbelt. Do you know where the snowbelt is?

What is the snowbelt?

You will hear Storm Team 27 meteorologists mention the snowbelt throughout the late fall and winter. The snowbelt is a region that picks up heavy snow from the Great Lakes due to colder air moving over the warmer water of the lakes. This will create clouds big enough to produce rain or snow. The clouds are pushed inland by the wind dropping rain and snow.

There are areas that generally get the bulk of these Lake Effect showers, and they are known as the snowbelt.

Where is the snowbelt?

The snowbelt in northeastern Ohio is generally east of Cleveland and runs along the shoreline of Lake Erie into northwestern Pennsylvania. The snowbelt also drops south toward Portage County and swings into Mahoning County, traveling east through northern Lawrence county in northwestern Pennsylvania.

The snowbelt can be broken up into two sections:

  • The primary snowbelt is the northern belt. It is mainly north of Warren to the Sharon/Mercer line.
  • The secondary snowbelt is south of the primary snowbelt and pushes as far as northern Columbiana County.
A look at the primary and secondary snowbelt of Northeast Ohio and Northwest Pennsylvania.

The snowbelt may also be broken down to the northern and southern snowbelt.

Lake effect snow pattern in the Northern Snowbelt
Lake effect snow pattern in the Southern Snowbelt

Lake effect snowfall is dependent on wind direction and speed to deliver the rain/snow to different locations. This is why we have two snowbelts. If the wind is mainly out of the west, the primary/northern snowbelt will pick up most of the precipitation. If the wind shifts to the northwest, the bands can travel south and impact the secondary/southern snowbelt.

You can keep up with our next chance for any lake effect rain or snow through the fall and winter with our 7-day forecast here.