I really want to post some links to Marine Weather observations on Lake Superior. (See the end of this blog post). I couldn’t find the Lake Superior buoy readings this spring. Then I noticed in red letters on the National Weather Service link, Maps had been changed to map. I made a change, one lower case letter in the URL, and I got what I needed.
What happened this week in my wide community on the North Shore of Lake Superior pales in comparison to events in Joplin, Oklahoma City, and Minot.
Our tornado happened Memorial Day Weekend. You have to zoom in on a Google Map to find Brimson, MN, in the wilderness north of Two Harbors. An F-zero strength tornado stayed on the ground for about three miles, and was about a quarter mile wide. One like it hit North Minneapolis in May, and that was a major disaster. I don’t like to see our forest turned to toothpicks either. Our tornado went aloft, and the funnel was seen by eSpotters for another eighteen miles. It stayed on an eastward line aimed right for Little Marais. I followed the cell on radar until it died over Lake Superior.
We got warnings via the Internet, but I wouldn’t have thought to turn on the Marine radio to get the details. I use My-Cast radar images to get details. There are no tornado sirens in the wilderness.
Until this week, I measured only 1/4 inch of precipitation for the month of June. The day of the solstice, (Tuesday, June 21, 12:16 PM CDT), a gale developed on Lake Superior. Gale force (30+ mph), and storm force (50+ mph) winds blew all over Minnesota. Heavy rain fell on Wednesday and Thursday. I measure just over 3 1/4 inches. Lake effect happens in June too. Up the Little Marais Road (Lake County Rd 6) at elevations along the Superior Ridge, 400 to 600 feet above Lake Superior, 4-5 inch rainfall measurements were common. Runoff flooded Highway 61 ditches and one lane of the highway for a couple of hundred feet west of the intersection with County Road 6.
A MNDOT (Minnesota Department of Transportation) construction zone, beginning near the entrance to Split Rock Lighthouse Historic Site, and for two miles west became nearly impassible. My wife was coming home at Noon from an annual women’s bike trip (Bayfield, WI this year) on Wednesday. Mary, who was driving, was very upset after maneuvering around two miles of muddy potholes at 3 mph. Vehicles hauling boat trailers, and larger semi-trailer rigs pulled over as soon as they found a wide enough shoulder beyond the construction zone, to fix the damage and adjust loads. Kim, another driver of the women’s group came through the same zone a few minutes later, and met an ambulance headed to a Duluth hospital, working its way through the mess. Kim and several others called MNDOT to complain.
MNDOT’ posted advice to use Lake County Roads 3 and 4 as an alternate route. County Road 3 starts just east of the Stewart River near the popular Betty’s Pies Restaurant. That back way adds about six miles to the drive to Silver Bay. A left turn a couple of miles north of Beaver Bay takes you back to Highway 61. It is a scenic drive in nice weather. About ten miles of gravel road is not capable of sustaining heavy volumes of truck traffic. Portions of that low lying gravel road are subject to flash flooding and washouts. The Lake County Highway Department rushed in yesterday (Friday) to repair the damage. A steady parade of large haulers came came down the steep hill from gravel pits on Little Marais Road to restore the Highway 61 construction zone at Split Rock. All that traffic diverted the back way while repairs were made.
I happened to be volunteering at the Silver Bay Public Library the hour of the solstice on Tuesday. Eileen, the Assistant Librarian, got a call from her husband. A maple tree blew down at their Lax Lake home, a popular summer destination about eight miles north of Silver Bay. He called again a few minutes later to report a large spruce had fallen on Eileen’s parents’ driveway, also on Lax Lake, snapping a power line. Electrical power was out over a large area. We had power outages and power spikes squealing our backup power supplies for three more days. The longest outage was only two hours on Tuesday night.
The Little Marais River gushed muddy water into Lake Superior. The good news, the lake level had been about a foot too low for my neighbor to put skids in the water from his boathouse. Now it is possible to get out and go fishing. The bad news, some seasonal residents pump filtered lake water for drinking; too muddy for filters to handle. The mud takes only a day or so to settle to the bottom.
The surface temperature of Lake Superior is only about 38 degrees this June. It should be getting close to 50 degrees by the end of June. I recorded an air temperature of 83 degrees yesterday afternoon. Only four days this month has the temperature exceeded 70 degrees. That is a cold June.
I put on my neon green Flippin t-shirt (from Flippin, Arkansas) to enjoy the warmth. Another lake effect happened moments later. The land breeze shifted to a lake breeze. The temperature dropped to 60. Actually, the temperature remained in the upper 60’s over night. Fireflies came out, my mythical midsummer fairies, only four days later than usual. This morning the temperature dropped to 46 with the lake breeze by 10 AM.
Here are the promised links to Lake Superior Marine Weather observations.
http://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/maps/WestGL.shtml The map.
http://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/station_page.php?station=slvm5 Silver Bay Marina
http://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/station_page.php?station=45027 Duluth UMD buoy
http://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/station_page.php?station=disw3 Devils Island, the Apostle Islands
http://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/station_page.php?station=45006 Mid-lake buoy Western Lake Superior