Theses and Dissertations


Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Mercer, Andrew

Committee Member

Dyer, Jamie

Committee Member

Fuhrmann, Chris

Committee Member

Meng, Qingmin

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Geosciences


The lee shores of the North American Great Lakes are subject to hazardous amounts of snowfall each winter as continental polar air masses are destabilized by the relatively warmer lakes which manifests as pronounced heat and moisture fluxes and subsequent convection and snow generation. This phenomenon, known as lake-effect snow (LES), has been studied by the atmospheric scientific community extensively as the local and mesoscale processes are becoming better understood through the implementation of in situ research projects and high-resolution numerical weather prediction models. However, considerably less research effort has inquired on what large-scale conditions are linked with lake-effect snow. The objective of this dissertation is to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the synoptic-scale conditions associated with lake-effect snowstorms and how they differentiate with non-LES winter storms. Chapter 1 provides a brief introduction to LES and reviews the basic dynamics of LES formation in the form of a comprehensive literature review. Chapter 2 consists of the first synoptic climatologies of lake-effect snowstorms off Lakes Michigan and Superior through statistical analysis of past lake-effect cases off those two lakes. Chapter 3 focuses on developing a synoptic climatology of wintertime cyclonic systems, specifically Alberta Clippers, that traversed the Great Lakes basin but did not result in lake-effect snow formation. Chapter 4 features the development of an objective classification model that differentiates between these two winter weather phenomena by using past LES and non-LES winter storm case repositories to train and test the model. This research effort will focus on wintertime Alberta Clipper systems and LES off Lakes Erie and Ontario. Finally, Chapter 5 reviews the primary results from this research and discusses their significance and implications regarding possible future research.