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Environment Topics

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Lake Conditions

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Also: Lake St. Clair
  Weather and Climate
of the Great Lakes Region

What's New | Overview | Comprehensive Resources | Current Conditions
Education | Forecasts | Historical Conditions | Ice | Storms and Winds
Related Resources

 
Fast Weather Forecast
The Weather Underground
Enter a city, state, zip code or station code for the current National Weather Service forecast
  
Examples: "Albany", "NY", "Albany, NY", "12233", or "ALB"

 
What's New
Study: Less lake effect snow, more rain near Great Lakes as climate changes
The Post-Standard (12/7)
The Great Lakes region could see less lake effect snow and more rain by the late 21st century, a new study suggests.

Great Lakes ice breaking all the rules
Great Lakes Echo (12/3)
Ice is forming on the Great Lakes faster this year than any other.

Great Lakes ice season to be 'near normal'
CBC News (12/3)
It's going to be a near-normal ice season for the Great Lakes, according to the Canadian Ice Service.

Lake Erie temperature at end of November was the coldest in decades
The Buffalo News (12/2)
Lake Erie’s water temperature at the end of November fell to 40 degrees.

A close look at the annual canal closing
Niagara Gazette (12/1)
Every year, about a month or so before winter officially hits the region, the Erie Canal is closed to water traffic and this year, the canal was closed on Nov. 19.

Lake Michigan lighthouse turned into ice-sculpture by freezing waters
Daily Mail (11/26)
A lighthouse on Lake Michigan was turned into a ice-sculpture this week by frigid temperatures.

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Overview
"Wait a day and the weather will change" is an apt description of weather in the Great Lakes region, especially in the spring and fall. That's because the region is affected by both warm, humid air from the Gulf of Mexico and cold, dry air from the Arctic. In general, the north experiences cooler weather, while the south has warmer temperatures. The entire basin experiences four distinct seasons.
 
The Great Lakes also have a big influence on the climate. Acting as a giant heat sink, the lakes moderate the temperatures of the surrounding land, cooling the summers and warming the winters. This results in a milder climate in portions of the basin compared to other locations of similar latitude. The lakes also act as a giant humidifier, increasing the moisture content of the air throughout the year. In the winter, this moisture condenses as snow when it reaches the land, creating heavy snowfall in some areas, known as "snow belts" on the downwind shores of the lakes. The shores of Lake Superior are prone to this "lake effect" snow and have recorded up to 350 inches of snow in a single year. During the winter, the temperature of the lakes continues to drop. Ice frequently covers Lake Erie but seldom fully covers the other lakes.
 
References: Great Lakes Atlas, Environment Canada and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1995

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Comprehensive Resources
Climate and Water
Environment Canada's Freshwater Web
Discusses climate change and the potential effects on the world's water resources.

Interactive Weather Information Network
NOAA, National Weather Service
Local weather, severe weather warnings, and videos.

MSU Agricultural Weather Office
Michigan State Univeristy, Agricultural Weather Office
Provides featured articles such as growing season reports, forecast products, and current weather information.

The Daily Planet
University of Illinois, Department of Atmospheric Sciences
In addition to weather images and MPEG animations, there are links to online electronic textbook and a number of other locally developed resources, including Weather World.

The Weather Channel
Breaking weather, current conditions and forecasts.

UM-Weather
University of Michigan
Provides access to dozens of weather products including conditions, forecasts, warnings, radar, climate information, and satellite photos.

Weather Information Home Page
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Detroit District
Provides current and previous month's precipitation, hydrographs of Great Lakes precipitation, and summaries of monthly and year-to-date precipitation.

Weather World 2010 Project
University of Illinois
A WWW framework for integrating current and archived weather data with multimedia instructional resources using new and innovative technologies.

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Current Conditions
Real-time weather data
Research Applications Program, National Center for Atmospheric Research
Features include an interactive mapper for viewing temperatures, visibility, skycover, wind direction and more. You also can view current images of snow cover and depth, courtesy of NOAA and the U.S. Air Force.

USA - Great Lakes
poletopole.org
Interactive Flash weather map serving near real-time conditions and forecasts for Great Lakes and surrounding region.

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Education
Weather: University Departments in the Great Lakes Region
 

WW2010 Online Guides
University of Illinois
Instructional resources that present such topics as meteorology, climate, remote sensing and global change not as individual sciences, but as integral components of a much larger system.

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Forecasts and Observations
TWO-DAY FORECASTS
Illinois
National Weather Service

Indiana
National Weather Service

Michigan
National Weather Service

Minnesota
National Weather Service

New York
National Weather Service

Ohio
National Weather Service

Ontario
Meteorological Service of Canada

Pennsylvania
National Weather Service

Quebec
Meteorological Service of Canada

Wisconsin
National Weather Service


 
Canadian Provincial Weather Forecasts
Environment Canada
Current conditions and local forecasts for the Canadian provinces.

Current Climate Situation in the Midwest
Illinois State Water Survey, Midwestern Climate Center
Maps of precipitation, temperature and snowfall for previous 7 and 30 days.

Forecast Data Sets
NOAA, Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory
Data sets are now available for Lake Erie and Ontario

Great Lakes Coastal Forecasting System
NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory
Provides maps depicting current and 6- or 24-hour forecasted conditions for several variables, including wind, wave height water surface and temperature.

Real-time Meteorological Observation Network for Lake Michigan
NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory
Quick links to current webcam views, wind speeds and air temperatures for Milwaukee and Kenosha, Wis.; Chicago, Ill.; and Muskegon and Saugatuck, Mich.

Weather Michigan
Originally developed for emergency managers and storm spotters, this site has evolved into a dependable one-stop source for anyone seeking extensive coverage of Michigan's ever-changing weather.

Weather Underground
University of Michigan
Provides weather imagery, current conditions and forecasts.

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Historical Conditions
GLIN: Compare snow melt (snow water equivalent) for the upper Great Lakes basin: 1997-2000
From the summer of 1997 to today, water levels on the middle Great Lakes have fallen from near record highs to near record lows. This decline is nearly 3.5 feet on lakes Michigan, Huron, St. Clair and Erie. This trend is forecasted to continue for the foreseeable future due in part to the fact that the drainage basins for lakes Superior and northern Michigan and Huron (the headwaters for the Great Lakes) have had one of the driest winters on record. Snowmelt runoff is a key component in replenishing groundwater and tributary stream flows into the Great Lakes.

Central NY Weather History
Tom Hauf, WTVH Meteorologist
Features National Weather Service records from 1902 to present, with a month-by-month summary of significant weather that has affected the eastern Lake Ontario region.

Climate Summaries for the Midwest
Illinois State Water Survey, Midwestern Climate Center
Averages and extremes of temperature, precipitation, degree days and growing season for stations throughout the Midwest.

Great Lakes States Monthly Precipitation Data
NOAA, Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory
Monthly precipitation data by station for each state, beginning of record to 1990. Zipped files via FTP.

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Ice
Great Lakes Data
NOAA, National Ice Center
Provides 30- and 90-day ice forecasts based on AVHRR data, OLS data, ship reports and U.S. Coast Guard shore reports.

Great Lakes Surface Environmental Analysis
NOAA, Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory
Digital map of the Great Lakes surface water temperature and ice cover produced daily through the NOAA CoastWatch program.

Lake Ice Data
NOAA, National Snow and Ice Data Center
Provides historical data, mainly on microfilm, on the following topics: aerial photos of ice conditions, daily ice observations at NOAA water level gauge sites, ice charts and surface ice reports from the U.S. Coast Guard.

Remote Sensing of Great Lakes Snow and Ice
Michigan Technological University
Includes time series of AVHRR images, passive microwave movie, images of Great Lakes ice, photos of Lake Superior ice, including ice volcanoes of Lake Superior's shore.

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Storms and Winds
Storm Probability Tables
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Detroit District
These monthly tables show possible storm-induced water level rises (in feet) at key locations on the Great Lakes.

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Related Resources
GLIN: Agencies and Organizations, Weather
GLIN: Climate Change in the Great Lakes Region
GLIN: Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Hydrology
GLIN: Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Water Flows
GLIN: Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Water Levels

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CC Data This page was created under the guidance of the binational Coordinating Committee on Great Lakes Basic Hydraulic and Hydrologic Data. This symbol is used throughout the GLIN hydrology section to indicate data or references prepared under the auspices of the Coordinating Committee.

 

 
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Great Lakes Information Network
Updated: December 19, 2014
Maintained by: Christine Manninen, manninen@glc.org
Selected Photos: Copyright ©John and Ann Mahan
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