Storm Approaches


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Winter Storm Approaches

The Week's Weather Journal.

The Week Of May 4th


It's too bad that many Eagle Harbor aficionados are unable to be here in May...especially in a year when the snow goes early, as is the case this year. The nights are fireplace cool and bright star clear, the days "crisp" warm and sunny...and there are NO BUGS! The last remanents of ice float about in the Harbor and hug the lake shoreline, their stark white shapes (no dirty ice here) sharply contrasting with the deep blue water and dark brown rock. A walk through the woods offers vistas of valleys, ridges, ponds and mine site relics not seen through summer's greenery. Overflowing creeks sparkle as sunlight reflects off their rippled surface. An intense silence only amplifies the quiet murmur of brook, the muffled rush of cascading stream, the calls of birds far and near, and the slight rustle of light breeze working its way through the evergreens. In such environmet, one pauses often to contemplate the wonder of our natural environment...and one's place in it.


The morning sky suggests rain, but little developes as the clouds once again concede the day to a warming sun. Reluctantly break away from the Harbor May reverie to confront the hustle and bustle of the step cities. Yes, even the normally sleepy Calumet and Laurium come alive as warm weather entices gatherings of winter isolated scoopers at area shops. Mostly just conversation, although 41 Lumber seemed to be be doing a big business in replacement storm doors and roofing. I got mine!


The east beach is white and Agate Harbor remains ice filled, but building winds from the west and southwest are warm and bear the scent of freshening pine. Surprisingly little surface ponding from the snowmelt...much of the melt having percolated through ground that experienced little winter frost because of a warm winter and heavy snowpack. It's very dry, so dry that the DNR has issued an early "no burning" restriction. Does that mean fewer bugs? One can only hope.


The wind backs to the south, then southeast, bringing a warm, but blustery day. The remaining slush ice in Eagle and Agate Harbors finally yields its shoreline embrace and moves to the lake...not to be seen again until "snow birds" head south once more. The building southeasterlies bring thoughts of billowing spinnakers and my Internet buddies surfing along the southeast coast of Africa as they start the 7,000 mile leg from Cape Town to Boston in their sail race around the world. Their messages radiate the joy and excitment of crewing a boat surging ahead at eleven knots under full sail. (For the non-sailing crowd, a "knot" is a nautical mile per hour. A nautical mile is like a regular mile, but more expensive. If you own a boat, especially a sailboat, you'll understand this.)


Don't you wish that your life was so simple that a highlight of a day would be the rare sighting of a pair of beautiful bufflehead ducks pausing briefly in the Harbor before the flight across the lake in their migration to northern Canada. Well, probably not, but so it was for me on a day when a weather system moving in from the west portends a break in our idyilic springtime. A welcomed warm morning rain cleared to a sweatshirt comfortable sunny afternoon, and then suddenly a sharp wind shift to the north in early evening sent everyone to the closet for the warmth of down. A seemingly spent sun, sharply edged in rapidly darkening and crystal clear, yet black cloud layered western sky, sinks quickly, almost without notice, into angry waves. Better bring some wood in!


Ye'Gads...It's snowing! Well, just very light snow showers, but snow nonetheless. Strong north winds push big rollers onto the lake and south Harbor shoreline. Feels and looks like early November. I wonder if that slush ice that departed for Thunder Bay a few days ago, will be back. It's wild and wonderful, almost beautiful...but the hell with it, I'm going to town!


Yesterday's morning snow and day long cold off-the-lake wind was more irritating than eventful. A bright sun prevailed for most of the day and turned the wind provoked lake into a bright showcase of crashing waves. The air was like pure oxygen...exhilarating! Today simply sparkles. The clan, which gathered last evening for the opening of Mary and Dick's Inn, will join forces today for the annual cleanup of the cemetery. Good folks, in good weather and good spirit, doing a good deed.

The Snow Report

At 274 inches (about 23 feet) and little hope of more snow, it appears that the seasonal total will be about 94 inches or almost 9 feet less than last winter's near record 367.4 inches. There was only 2 inches of new snow in April, the least in twenty years. The ground cover "measuring stick" reads zero. On May 1st last year we still had 36" on the ground. Winter's over!!

Keweenaw Snow Record (1)
Year Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May Total
96-97 0.0 28.3 83.6 104.6 19.3 35.9 2.1 0.0(2) 273.8(2)
95-96 0.0 50.7 96.6 108.2 35.4 41.8 26.2 8.5 367.4
Most 23.1 75.5 129.3 111.4 79.8 78.3 34.8 13.9 390.4(3)
Least 0.0 3.9 16.6 35.6 15.3 3.0 0.0 0.0 161.7(4)
Avg 3.1 29.0 62.2 70.6 38.5 27.4 10.9 1.6 243.2

(1) Recordings by Keweenaw County Road Commission since 1957.
(2) This winter through the date of this Page update.
(3) 1978-1979.
(4) 1957-1958.

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