Lake effect is very interesting, leading to huge snowfall totals in spots and very little snow just a few miles away. Here's how it works, the water in the Great Salt Lake is still holding some heat from the summer. Cold air poured in this weekend and water vapor comes up off the lake and further moistens up the air. Think of the lake as a huge cup of hot chocolate on a cold day. The steam just pours off the hot drink much like the water vapor coming up off the lake.
The added moisture gets dumped on the lee side of the lake resulting in heavy snowfall. This effect is enhanced by elevation, leading to heavier snowfall on the benches and the mountains. Meantime, outside of the lake effect bands snowfall can be light. As an example, parts of Utah county barely saw a flurry! In Draper only about 5-6" of snow fell. Drive a few miles north to Sandy and east in elevation and snowfall totals reached nearly 2 feet!
Nothing can bust a snowfall forecast like a good lake effect snowfall. That's exactly what we saw this past weekend with some areas blowing past the forecasted amounts by feet! The good news is after last winter we need the snow and so far we're off to a great start. Thanks for reading and don't forget to follow me on Facebook and Twitter.