How far west does “cooler near the lake” extend?

Weather Blog

Dear Tom,
When you say “Cooler near the lake,” how far west does that cover? We live around 2700 west.
—Jackie Scheind, Chicago
Dear Jackie,
It is an unstated, and usually an intentionally unstated distance. “Cooler near the lake” is an oft-repeated phrase cloaked in ambiguity because the inland penetration of a lake breeze is highly variable. How far west a lake breeze moves depends on factors such as the direction and strength of the larger scale wind flow and the contrast in temperature between lake-cooled air and inland temps. In late summer when the lake is well warmed, or when large-scale wind flow is from the SW, a lake breeze may only reach inland a few blocks. In spring, when lake water is still very cold, or when large scale winds are E or NE, it may reach areas well west of the Fox river.

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