Copper Harbor Lighthouse

Copper Harbor Lighthouse

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Lake. Effect. Snow.

I was waiting for our recent snow event to cease before I wrote this blog. That was futile!

When our local weather guru released his "Seasonal Outlook" back on November 4th, he prefaced it by reminding us that all weather forecasting involves a bit of guesswork. The further out you're trying to forecast, the greater percentage of guesswork is involved. So, "all seasonal forecasts should be taken with a grain of salt or even a bit of humor." That being said, he then went on to "guess" that the first half of our winter will be colder and snowier than usual. After early to mid-February, he thinks we will see less snow than usual. So far, it looks like he's a pretty good guesser! Lake Superior is still a big body of open water right now - water that is warmer than the air temperature. Combine that with cold winds - especially from the north, west or northwest, and we have the perfect recipe for lake effect snow. That's exactly what we're getting - and we're getting LOTS and LOTS and LOTS of it! 

This photo taken by the Portage Bridge webcam on Monday afternoon shows the typical clarity of the view through our windows this month.

On the local news this evening, they said we may be heading for the record books - both with the cold temperatures we've had in December and maybe with snowfall amounts. This scenario is apparently similar to what happened in 1978/79 when the Keweenaw had a record total of 390.4" for the season! 

I'll do my best to report the snowfall totals to you as accurately as possible as the season progresses. We're currently living in Calumet in northern Houghton County. We get more snow in Calumet than south of here where the Houghton County measurement is taken. Therefore, the Houghton County total published on various websites is much lower than what we're actually experiencing. Our property where we're building our new home is just 17 miles from Calumet, but it's in the higher terrain of Keweenaw County close to where the Keweenaw County measurement is taken. That total will normally be higher than what we have in Calumet. The seasonal totals reported through yesterday are:
  • Houghton County = 38"
  • Keweenaw County = 86.5" (58" in December alone!)
See what a huge difference there is? We're probably closer to 70-something inches in Calumet, but Calumet uses the Keweenaw County total on the Calumet website. I guess I don't have a problem with that, as it's a much more accurate reflection of our snow than the Houghton County total. We've already had as much snow as we had by January 19th last winter.

Now, to make things even more complicated, our property is often getting even more snow than Keweenaw County reports, as our property is closer to Lake Superior than where the official measurement is taken. But, when you get right on the big lake (like the towns of Eagle River, Eagle Harbor and Copper Harbor), the seasonal snow total goes down. Even though those towns are all in Keweenaw County, they get far less than the total reported by the county. Maybe we should invest in our own snow gauge when we move to the property!

OK, on to some photos. When you look at the downtown Calumet webcam, you might not think we get that much snow. However, the webcam is located on Fifth Street, a one-way street with parking on both sides. It's where most of the small businesses are located, so it's the best kept street in town. The road crews work especially hard to keep it free of snow. The webcam often catches the snow removal work in progress like it did when this shot was snapped in the very early morning hours on Monday.

Don't worry. That snow dribble in the middle of the street that was left behind by the plow was completely removed before the town came to life that day.

This was the view through the kitchen window on Monday morning about an hour before the snow started up again.

Here's a panorama shot of the backyard during a brief lull on Tuesday afternoon.

Here's a panorama from yesterday. 

Yes, the sun was shining (for about 5 minutes), but it was actually still snowing when I took that photo. You can see the dark lake effect snow clouds - more like one gigantic cloud. You can also get a glimpse of the "snow overhang" from the snow on the roof. The next two photos show how the overhang blocks even more of the window today.

Steve may need to rake the roof pretty soon. Here's the snow on the deck through the kitchen window today.

The blob on the right side of the deck in the next shot is the BBQ grill.

(Look back and compare that photo to the one I took on Monday morning!) Next, two more photos showing the snow overhang through the kitchen window today.

It's not difficult to get into the Christmas spirit around here!

All is well in the Keweenaw. Really!

1 comment:

  1. Love to see your snow pictures!! And to think we were excited for the 3 in. we got today! haha


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