Lake-effect snow slammed New York this morning. But what makes lake-effect snow different than blizzards?

Close to 3.5 million Americans are currently under Lake-Effect Snow Warnings, with a massive system expected to dump more than 30-inches of snow in some areas.

The Current Forecast

The National Weather Service warns that the area will face treacherous conditions come Monday evening.

A Lake-Effect Snow Warning has been issued for several counties, with areas warned to prepare for heavy snow and blustery winds. The system is expected to dump over 2 feet of snow in some areas and produce gusts as high as 35 miles per hour.

Major Winter Storm Hammers East Coast With High Winds And Heavy Snow
Credit: Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Northern Oneida and Herkimer County, as well as Oswego, Onondaga, Lewis and Jefferson County are under a Lake-Effect Snow Warning.  Areas within Northern Onondaga County will reportedly receive higher snowfall totals.

Southern Oneida and Herkimer County, as well as Madison County, are under a Winter Weather Advisory. These areas are expected to receive up to six inches of snow and winds gusting as high as 35 miles per hour.

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The NWS warns the worst of the system will occur between Tuesday afternoon and Tuesday evening.

Motorists are urged to slow down and use caution when traveling. Those planning on hitting the road during those times are urged to have emergency equipment on them like flashlights, food and water in the event of an emergency.

Lake-Effect vs. Blizzard

There are several different types of winter storms - from bomb cyclone and nor'easters, it is hard to keep track of what each of them does. Which one is the worst?

Bomb cyclones, otherwise known as a bombogenesis, are produced when a cold air mass collides with a warm air mass, such as air over warm ocean waters, and rapidly intensifies over a 24-hour period. These systems are usually triggered following a sudden drop in barometric pressure and they can be as powerful as a category 1 hurricane.

Massive Winter Storm Brings Snow And Heavy Winds Across Large Swath Of Eastern Seaboard
Photo Credit - Mark Wilson / Getty Images

Nor'easters are used to define extratropical cyclones that barrel up the East Coast. Cold air fuels them, which is why they tend to develop closer up north. These systems form when northeast winds and moisture content combine in a low-pressure area somewhere between the North Carolina and Massachusetts coastline. They can produce heavy snow, coastal flooding, hurricane-force winds and blizzard conditions.

Blizzards are classified by strong, wintry systems that produce large amounts of snow (or blowing snow), and produce winds in excess of 35 miles per hour. Blizzards are also classified when their conditions cause low visibility, roughly less than 1/4 mile, for at least 3 hours. However, a storm can only be classified as a blizzard if it remains active and strong for over 6 hours. However, these systems have been known to last for several days.

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Lake-Effect systems are now low-pressure systems and. instead, are triggered when cold air moves over the Great Lakes regions. These systems can become more powerful if the lakes aren't frozen over yet. The air mass then sucks up the moisture from the lakes and then dumps the water as snow when it moves onto land. Lake-effect systems also tend to be shorter-lived then their other wintry counterparts, and tend to max out in a day or two.

Staying Safe in the Snow

Motorists are encouraged to stay off the roads during these intense systems. If you must drive, you are encouraged to greatly reduce your speeds and drive with extra caution. Drivers should also maximize their follow distance to ensure they don't strike the vehicle in front of them in the event of a sudden braking.

Massive Snowstorm Brings Up To Foot Of Snow To Large Swath Of Northeast
Photo Credit - Andrew Theodorakis / Getty Images

When it comes to shoveling, doctors are urging people to drink plenty of water, dress appropriately for the weather, shovel while the snow is still fresh, be mindful of their back and to take it slow.

People have died from shoveling-related cardiac arrest, so be sure to be conscious of your ticker before you start scraping off your walkways.

Here are some other tips to get you ready for Mother Nature's snowy wrath

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Gallery Credit: Ed Nice

Best of luck this week, everyone!

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