Monday, October 14, 2013

Will the Warm Fall Slow The Cooling of Lake Erie?


Last year, a similar question was asked on the heals of the incredibly warm summer of 2012. I did some quick checking of the lake water temperature data and compared 2012 to other recent summers. READ MY FULL POST HERE That research showed the lake seems to cool at relatively the same rate from September through November.

Will the lake cool similarly this year? 

The overall summer temperatures were very close to average. Yet the air temperatures this fall--since September 22nd--have been very warm, 5th warmest in 50- years!   Common sense would seem to point to a warmer lake later in the fall season. So I checked the Lake Erie water temperatures in the years with early fall warmth WARMER than this year.  The remaining years in the top 5 warmest (since 1964) are 1973, 2007, 1986 an 2005.

Data  Courtesy: NWS, Dick Goddard
It seems the Lake cools at about the same rate in each of these years. The differences year to year are very small.  By early December, the water temperatures differences are only a few degrees. In fact, in 1973, the WARMEST early fall in the last 50 years, the lake cooled FASTER then the other years in question only to level off in the last two weeks of November. 

How do these temperatures compared to other random years?  Check my blog post listed above and you'll find the water temperatures for 2010, 2009 and 2001.  The cooling is very similar to the above years.

So what does all of this mean?  Many factors contribute to the cooling of the lake like RUN OFF from heavy rain and THUNDERSTORM EVENTS and general lake circulation. 

Will lake effect snow be affected this year? Probably not. The lake seems to balance out the other external factors by the time we need to worry about lake effect snow.  The severity of the cold air moving over the lake and the strength of the wind (among some other) are more of a contributing factor.

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