Location…Location… Location…

That’s the classic phrase in real estate, but the same rings equally true for lake effect snow. This week across the UP has been a classroom for lake effect snow (LES) study. Some places got pounded quite regularly, while others saw loads of sunshine. Unfortunately, where we live now was the second case and where we used to live was the first.

I thought there might be some hope for us when the winds turned mostly out of the west and we still partook in the LES, but then reality hit and we were mostly sunny from Tuesday through Friday. Not far north, about 15 miles to be exact) the snows pretty much never let up and once you were in the higher terrain from around Houghton/Hancock north, you saw snow fall almost non-stop all week last week. Even the twin cities of Houghton and Hancock, while not in the higher terrain, made out very well in the LES department last week. I don’t have all totals, but the spot where Keweenaw County takes their official measurement had picked up 55″ of snow as of Friday morning. It has been snowing just about non-stop since then up there, so I have no doubt that they have gone over the 60″ mark since this current snow cycle started on February 4th. 

Just driving around the different spots here in the Keweenaw will clearly illustrate where the main snow banding has been since last Monday. The snow banks down here are small. Something you might see in central WI when they have some decent snow on the ground. Travel north to Lake Linden and they double and start to look a whole more like what you would expect in the Keweenaw in mid-winter. Head up the hill to Calumet or even more dramatically Mohawk and the banks are at least triple what we have here. I can say this with 100% confidence as that is exactly what I did just a few hours ago. I did take some pictures and will be sharing, but I was not able to stop in as many spots as I wanted to because the shoulder of the roads is gone due to the plow banks and the visibility was very low due to falling and blowing snow.

So before I get into the snow pictures, I can also add that despite this week long cold snap, Lake Superior is still largely ice free. That image taken yesterday afternoon and this picture from Friday afternoon. However, despite the fact that Lake Superior is still largely ice free, we have had some cold nights. Usually the big lake will keep us significantly warmer than surrounding areas. It is not uncommon for us to be above zero, but the southern UP, northern WI and northern MN to be 25-35 degrees colder than that at the same time. Saturday morning I had to go to Hancock and when I left our house, the truck thermometer read -11. As I drove north the temperature kept getting colder and colder and thinking I had seen it get as cold as it would, I kept pulling over and taking a picture of the screen on the dash. Finally, as I was driving through Lake Linden, I hit rock bottom at -23. That is the coldest I have seen in the Keweenaw in some time and the coldest ever with the Big Lake still mostly water!

All the snow, plus the cold temps and winds have allowed some nice drifts to form. I snapped a shot of this one on the front of the shop this morning. As long as they do not look to be threatening the overhangs, I typically let them go to see how big they well get before breaking off. Hey, it beats watching the grass grow in the summer! As I was driving through Calumet and Laurium, I spotted this one hanging from the roof of a home in Laurium. Lots of those old mining homes are not too well insulated and thus the 12 foot long icicles! Now that one I WOULD be taking care of!!!

The Calumet school does an amazing job of keeping the parking and play areas open around the school They have some regular plow trucks and then have at least one front end loader that does the heavy lifting. That loader also makes some rather gigantic mounds of snow that the kids play on. When it is warm enough for outdoor recess, Grace usually has a story or two of something that happened to her or a friend on that very pile. For some reason, that picture does not do justice to show how big the pile is. Further to the right, the pile is lower, but is still taller than the top of a standard height basketball backboard.

As mentioned, the plow banks down here in Jacobsville pale in comparison to those in the big snow areas. Here is a shot of the Jacobsville Road a few miles north of us. I do have to admit that even though the plow banks are not 4-5 feet+ high, that road is still one of my favorites to drive down in the Keweenaw! Had we not moved to Jacobsville, this would have been the look down our road…Just a bit different! That was the #6 Road between Mohawk and Copper City.

Speaking of Copper City, they have some rather impressive banks of snow on the side of the road. Here is a shot with a pickup in it to help show the size of them. I rather doubt that we will ever see plow banks that tall and snow that deep down here in the banana belt, but I a grateful for the snow we do get and to be living where we do. This is probably THE best place to live in the Keweenaw when it is not snowing and I also do not have to travel very far at all to see or even play in the real deal.

Speaking of playing in the snow, I am sure that all of you have noticed an absence of any snowmobile rides I have been on. I have not been with holding. I just have not gone out. About 2 years ago my heart went into a-flutter, which is very similar to f-fib. typically the only real concern with someone with it is the risk of a blood clot. My risk is rather low because I am on blood thinners for my artificial valves. However, because of the other ailments my heart has been through and some that is still has, the a-flutter causes my hear to pump rather poorly. Only about 25% of the blood that could be pumped out of my heart does. I must also add that no one has 100% pumped out. About the best most folks will have is 70%. I had a procedure done back in July of 2018 that stopped the flutter and I was good until around this time last year. So I was going to go have a different procedure done to permanently fix the flutter, but then covid hit and I have had to wait. I am in the on-deck circle and should be having that procedure done in the next month or so and then will be able to be more physically active, including snowmobiling and even things like cross country skiing/snow shoeing. So I have not given up on snowmobiling, quite the opposite. I am chomping at the bit to be able to ride. My riding will be more subdued, but I still plan to stick mostly to off trail, just a more mellow variety. I have plans to sell my sled this off season and get a new one. I just have not figured out which one just yet. Heck, maybe I can get the folks at Tiaga to send me one and I can be their marketing rider for the Midwest! I seriously would love to have one of those!

A couple of other items to share. The John Dee Stimulus Project that has been going on the past several weeks has ended. The great folks that handled ALL of the work involved are still tallying up the final numbers, but it looks like they will be VERY close to their targeted goal of $50,000! That is just incredible and I am so honored to have my name associated with the project, but also want to make clear that other than acting as an advisor and donating a pair of skis for the auction, I really did not do anything, so all the credit needs to go to those folks. The money will be split up evenly amongst the roughly 25 businesses in the western UP that applied for the funds. Way to go guys and gal!

Also, I forgot to mention that the title to last weeks entry came courtesy of Grace. We were a few days into this snow cycle and typically our winters up here seem to be cloudy almost every day. We had a few days of sunshine before the snows arrived and after a few days of clouds and snow, she said to Nora and I that the “Never Ending Cloud” was back. I just thought that was a very cool description to our weather at that moment.

A sneak peak at the forecast sees LOTS of snow for the SE Midwest. Most areas SE of a line from around St Louis to just south of the thumb of MI will see two storms this week. One later tomorrow and tomorrow night and another by Thursday produce over 12″ of snow. Some spots may even see as much as 18″ fall by the time all is said and done. Not much for the rest of the Midwest, but no thaws either. Warmer temps, but no thaws. By later in the weekend or the first half of next week some snows look to start falling every few days in the Northern Midwest.

I will leave you with one last picture. It is of a text book lake effect cloud off in the near distance. It was taken looking east down the road we live on. A thing of beauty if you ask me!

Good night from the Keweenaw..