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.
"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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.