Why don’t the Great Lakes produce weather disasters?

Weather Blog

Dear Tom,
Why don’t the Great Lakes produce weather disasters?


James Odiet,
Waukegan


Dear James,
Weather-related disasters on the Great Lakes do occur. In fact, they were the primary motivation for the establishment of the U.S. Weather Bureau in November, 1870. In late autumn and early winter, the waters of the Great Lakes still retain much of summer’s warmth. As bitterly cold arctic air masses of late fall sweep across the Great Lakes region, the lakes represent a huge reservoir of heat (relative to low air temperatures) that contributes to the intensification of low pressure systems moving across the region. These storms can rival hurricanes in size and ferocity. The storm of Nov. 10-14, 1913, is an example. It generated 60-90 mph winds and 35-foot waves that claimed 276 lives on the Great Lakes.

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