Although there has not been a major snowstorm to hit Oswego County yet this school year, students in Joe McNamara’s sixth grade class at Granby Elementary School have already gotten a heavy dose of lake effect flurries.
TV meteorologist Jim Teske stopped by the school recently to teach the children about lake effect snow and the factors that come into play to produce major storms.
Using data and photos from recent storms that have hit the county, students received a glimpse into the mechanics behind our local weather.
“When you have a warm lake – in our case it’s Lake Ontario — and cold air passes over the lake, you can get lake effect snow,” Teske said.
Combine the warm body of water and the cool air with changes in the atmospheric pressure and winds, and the conditions are prime for serious snowfall, the weatherman said.
To illustrate air pressure changes, Teske and sixth grader Lauren Kingsley conducted an experiment.
The pair created low pressure inside a glass bottle by adding a heat source (a cotton ball that the weatherman ignited with a lighter) and then placed a hardboiled egg on top of the bottle.
Since the egg blocked off the airflow into the bottle, this created a change in air pressure and the egg was sucked down through the glass top.
“The pressure inside the bottle is lower than the air pressure outside,” Teske explained. “Air wants to go from high pressure to low pressure, which is why the egg is pushed down.”
Armed with knowledge about atmospheric changes, lake effect snow and weather related terminology, McNamara said his students are ready for whatever Mother Nature has in store this winter.
“This gives them a better understanding of the environment they live in,” he said. “Now, when they hear ‘lake effect snow,’ it’s more than just a phrase. They know the science behind the storm.”