Greetings everyone! From a cold and pretty snowy Keweenaw. Some areas have picked up more than others, but in general less than was anticipated has fallen in the past 3-4 days. It was looking like a decent setup for heavy lake effect snow was in place for Friday. Some areas did get 12″+, but it was a pretty small spot just south of Houghton. Most other places picked up 4-8″ of snow, which is no slacker, but still not the solid double digits that looked like was going to happen. I know I did a bit of head scratching as to why the totals were on the lighter side and then today I got my answer.
Once the sun had been up for long enough today, I jumped on the old computer and loaded up some visible satellite imagery of Lake Superior. What I saw made my heart sink. In the past 3 days, a significant amount of ice has formed on the western end of the lake. I guess it should not be that much of a surprise. We had some really cold temps in December and early January and now are back into the arctic air. I guess I was just keeping my hopes up that the lake would not get much ice on it this season. I snapped a picture of the satellite imagery and enhanced it a bit, by outlining the lake in blue and also outlining the eastern edge of the ice in yellow.
About half of the lake to the west of us now has ice on it. It is not all solid ice or very thick. So a good wind could churn things up enough to get rid of much of it, but it has been my observations that once the ice starts to form, it keeps going as long as the really cold air is in place and that is exactly what looks to happen for the next 7-10 days.
So what does this mean? Well if you are on the Keweenaw or in the other LES belts of the western UP, it means less snow and also colder temps- especially when the arctic air is dumping into the Great Lakes region from Canada. The big lake really moderates that arctic air for us and also produces all that wonderful lake effect. So in essence, we become much like northern MN. We get to experience the full brunt of the arctic air. On the up side, we will also see more sunshine than we typically do because the lake will not be producing the clouds like it does.
For areas of the UP to the east of Keweenaw, little will change. The lake still is pretty wide open there and the snows that fall in areas like Munising, Grand Marais and Paradise all come from the waters east of the Keweenaw. Even for us, the lake is open enough for some snows to fall. As you can see in that last shot, there is still open water and that open water is creating some lake effect clouds and snow. It has been snowing all day today. Not heavily, but still snowing. The bummer part is that it looks like from this evening through tomorrow, the winds would have been quite favorable for the Keweenaw to get hammered with LES and now it will be something less than hammered. It is always hard to tell what the exact impacts will be, sometimes we get a surprising amount of snow with ice on the lake and sometimes not.
So that is my sob story for today. There is some great news for folks in far southern MN, the northern 2/3rds of IA, southern 1/2 of WI, northern 1/3rd of IL, IN and OH and southern 1/3rd of lower MI, as it looks like several systems will roll through in the next 5-7 days and end up producing a combined 8-12″ snows in most of those areas, with the potential for some locales to see 12″+ fall. I am very happy for the snow lovers in those areas. It has been a challenging winter for them, as the snows have been below average and when they have fallen, have not lasted too long. So by next weekend, it looks like some local riding will be had in those areas.
So other than a bunch of ice forming on the western end of the lake, it has been a pretty quiet week up here. I am still nursing a cold. Nothing too bad, but I hate not having my full amount of energy. The Keweenaw Snowmobile Club held its first annual bonfire and cookout and things went very well with that. There was fresh snow on the ground and in the air. Temps were in the low teens, so it was not brutally cold and a pretty steady flow of folks stopped in to grab a bite to eat and also warm up around the fire. We never had a ton of folks there at one time, but from 11 until I left at 4, there was always at least about 2 dozen folks there. It was only suppose to go until 3 in the afternoon, but it seemed like quite a few folks were heading down the trail after 3 and saw the activity going on and decided to stop, so we were able to keep things going longer than we had planned.
It was the first time for the event, so we did not want to keep things fairly simple, but all agreed that things went well and it should be a for-sure event every winter. I am sure some brain-storming will be done to try and come up with more things to have going on and attract even more folks. For those that did stop by, thank you, it was great to see you all!
I guess that about covers it for this week, have fun with the coming snow you folks in the central Midwest!
Good night from the Keweenaw..