Are there icy winds off Lake Michigan because the lake level is high?

Dear Tom,

Icy winds off Lake Michigan just won’t quit this spring. Is it because the lake level is high, thus the water is slower to warm?

Sharon Tamura,
Chicago

Dear Sharon,

The level of Lake Michigan is high, but that does not affect the direction or strength of our winds here in Chicago. It’s true that we are having a chilly spring and that winds blowing off Lake Michigan have been somewhat more frequent than usual, but “lake winds” are common in the spring. Their cooling effect is more pronounced now than at other times of the year because, on average, the lake/land air temperature difference is greatest in the spring. Lake Michigan warms slowly and, in the spring, still retains much of its winter chill, but air temperatures over land rise more quickly. The lake is currently more than two feet above its May average, but remains about three inches below its June record high.

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