Lake Michigan has obvious effects on the weather here in the Chicago area, but are there any effects farther out?

Dear Tom,

Lake Michigan has obvious effects on the weather here in the Chicago area, but are there any effects farther out?

Walt Lowenthal,
Chicago

Dear Walt,

More than 40 years of observations by weather satellites has revealed how far-reaching some lake-induced weather features can be. Winter clouds/snow flurries have been tracked as far southeast as eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina. The installation of the National Weather Service’s powerful Doppler radar here in 1993 has allowed us to follow lake breezes 50 miles inland. Converging winds along a lake breeze front made it all the way west into Kane and DeKalb counties years ago, spawning a tornadic thunderstorm cell.

These are exceptional examples. Most often, temperature effects are much less intrusive, on the scale of several miles from Lake Michigan.

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