The Lake Effect phenomenon is well-known and studied in meteorological circles. Northern or westerly winds blow over the lakes’ surface, picking up heat and water vapor that produce warm columns of air known as “thermals.” Those columns then cool down and condense into cumulus clouds, aligning in the direction of the prevailing wind over the lakes’ surface. When there is a large enough temperature contrast, the cloud structures can dump heavy lake effect snow on the downwind shores of the lakes.
At times, there is a large temperature contrast between the surface air and lake water, and cloud formations can deliver heavy lake effect snows on the downwind shores of the lakes such as in the imagery above from Suomi-NPP.
See additional examples of lake effect snow below.