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Warmest Lake Michigan in 30 years could impact Milwaukee winter

Lake Michigan Milwaukee
Posted at 5:53 AM, Nov 08, 2021

MILWAUKEE — We are going to have fond memories of this autumn, with summer-like temperatures running deep into late October. However, what you may not have noticed on all those gorgeous days is the temperature of Lake Michigan.

Milwaukee's Great Lake stayed warmer than it ever has later than it ever has. It's another sign that the lake is changing.

For the first three weeks of October, every day's average temperature was warmer than average.

So at a time when Lake Michigan should have been cooling down, all that warmth had it heating up.

The National Weather Service says as of October 24, the lake's surface was 61 degrees. A record level seven degrees warmer than normal.
"That's pretty unusual, and it's because of how warm temperatures have been across the Lake Michigan basin since the end of September," said Sarah Marquardt, a senior service hydrologist at the National Weather Service.

As of Nov. 5, the lake temperature was still 56 degrees, about 4 degrees warmer than average and the warmest it has ever been that late in the season in the last three decades.

The previous Nov. 5 high temperature is 55 degrees in 2016.

Back in April, we reported on how the deepest parts of Lake Michigan are the warmest in 30 years and the annual "turnover" of the lake's depths from warm to cold is happening later.

Make no mistake, there will still be a winter in Wisconsin. Cooler, shorter days are a sure sign the seasons are changing.

Changing to what -- we're just not as certain.

Warm lake temperatures deep into winter could mean warmer air temperatures near the shore, resulting in more rain and less snow.

Unless the wind blows from the east or northeast across the warm water. This could help blanket Milwaukee with heavy lake effect snow.

Whatever the case, expect the unexpected.

"With warmer Lake Michigan water temperature, areas near the lakeshore could get warmer later and could see the first snow delayed this year," Marquardt said.

To see a Lake Michigan temperature trend chart click here.

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