Sault, MI Receives 1 Month’s Snow in 1 Day

November 14th, 2014 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.

Photo courtesy of the Sault Evening News.

Photo of snowstorm in progress Nov. 13, 2014, courtesy of the Sault Evening News.

For those who have been asking whether the unusually cold Great Lakes will reduce the amount of lake effect snow the region gets this winter, I think we just got the answer.

Not when a massive cold wave hits the U.S. so early in the season.

The current cold wave over the U.S. has dumped 2 to 4 feet of mostly lake-effect snow over scattered locations in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. My home town of Sault Ste. Marie is waking up to 2 feet of new snow this morning, most of which fell yesterday. This is more than the average snowfall for the whole month of November, which is only 16 inches. The Ishpeming, Mi area has up to 3 feet on the ground this morning.

The amount of lake effect snow is a direct measure of how much heat is being lost by the Great Lakes. Two NOAA buoys in the middle of Lake Superior show that the water has already cooled to the magic value of 39 deg. F, the maximum density point for fresh water where the lake water begins to “turn over”. Last winter’s cold led to scattered reports of ice until almost July. I took the accompanying photo of lake shore ice on June 17 near Munising, MI.

Ice pile several feet thick on the south shore of Lake Superior, June 17, 2014.

Ice pile several feet thick on the south shore of Lake Superior, June 17, 2014.

For local residents hoping for a quick return to normal weather, the latest 10-day air mass temperature forecast animation shows any break in the frigid conditions is at least a week away. And since the Lakes are starting out so cold already, if this winter is anywhere close to being as cold as last winter, the Great Lakes could be in for record ice cover — again.

93 Responses to “Sault, MI Receives 1 Month’s Snow in 1 Day”

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