Lake effect snow can be quite a hassle during the winter time. A slight wind shift can make all the difference in one location getting a few inches or a foot of snow.
Lake effect snow forms when the lake water is warmer than the air mass above it. This unstable atmosphere allows clouds to develop and eventually lead to snowfall. The wind direction over the lake will determine where the lake effect snow falls over land. This is most common early in the winter season because of the large temperature difference between the lake and above air mass at this time, though it is generally occurs November-February.