First Snow in Autumn - 1916Comparing Tom's image with real lake effect snow on conifers.

First Snow in Autumn, Fall 1916 Click for the CSI - Creative Scene Investigation Text will appear in a new window and I suggest that you drag this window to the side so that you can read it while looking at the image. This simple approach works but not as well as Flash! It works best if you have two monitors.

Tom’s motivation to “record” this particular observation – the first significant snowfall of the season. Typically these big snowsquall events occur in mid autumn after a strong cold front has swept across the Great Lakes. This is a classic example of one of Tom’s “records” which he meant as an observation of the natural world. Most of his sketches were weather observations. They were not art to him.

Tom used bold strokes with confidence. Plein air sketches are generally completed in 2 hours or less. If it snows into your paint, the paint becomes crystalline. However, that can be a nice effect. Snowsqualls typically have a very high snow to liquid ratio. Ratios as high as 20 parts of snow to one part of water, have been observed with these events. Such snow is light and fluffy. Even a small amount of liquid brought by the snowsquall conveyor belts from the Great Lakes, can convert into a large depth of snow. During the snowsquall event, visibilities are often reduced to near zero making any kind of travel very hazardous.

The basic theory of snowsqualls is described very briefly in the CSI link. Snowsquall prediction can be very complex to get the details right but the patterns that are conducive for their formation, are evident many days if not a week in advance of their formation.