Finally, spring

Those of us living in Wisconsin this time of year are often tormented by looking at the surrounding temperatures of area states. This is especially true for people living near Lake Michigan. In short, we get gypped on spring weather. When I show the regional temperature map, Milwaukee is often the coldest temperature shown. This includes places like Rhinelander, International Falls, Fargo, etc. I often hear, “why do we live here?”

Lake Michigan is a treasure, but in the spring it is usually rather cruel. The reason is because it takes water a whole lot longer to warm up than surrounding land masses. The current temperature of the lake is still in the upper 30s. This creates its own weather on almost a daily basis. Depending on wind direction and speed, the lake breeze often develops late morning to early afternoon. This happens when you have a sunny day and the land areas warm quickly. This creates a small area of low pressure over the land. The cold waters of Lake Michigan create an area of high pressure. The wind always blows from high to low pressure, so the lake breeze is formed. The only way that lakeshore areas stay warm throughout the day is if the wind is strong enough (generally greater than 1o miles per hour) out of the northwest, west, or southwest.

It was nice to finally have a nice spring weekend with highs in the sixties, but be prepared for more lake breezes to come. The great thing about the lake is the nice natural air conditioning we get in the summer when the winds turn off the lake on a hot day while the surrounding states are baking.

Mark Baden

5/4/2009

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