Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Winter Slowly Retreats, Summer Quickly Advances

The last vestiges of winter are still clearly evident in the Great Lakes, which remain nearly 16 percent ice covered as of May 6. You may recall that on March 6, Great Lakes ice cover  peaked at over 92 percent, the second highest concentration since 1973. Most of the current ice is over the eastern end of Lake Superior and some of the bays on Lakes Michigan and Huron, and on the western end of Lake Erie.

Ice cover on the Great Lakes as of May 6, 2014.

There is also still snow on the ground in the Arrowhead of Minnesota and along the northern edge of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, particularly in the forested areas.

The average date of last ice (10 percent) is usually from mid March into April for most of the lakes, so last ice is significantly later this year.

At the start of May, Lakes Superior, Michigan, and Huron had two to three times as much ice as they did on the same date in 1979, the season with the greatest ice coverage. It's possible there still could be ice on Lake Superior in June given the current amount of 34 percent.

The view looking west over Copper Harbor, MI on the Keeweenaw Peninsula.
Credit: Northwoods Cam Network
The slow melting of the ice and slow warming of the water will likely mean that spring lake breezes are going to be mighty chilly for some time to come for those area normally affected.

Maximum temperatures for May 6, 2014
It's just the opposite situation in the Central and Southern Plains where temperatures have soared into the 90s and even triple digits over the past week.  The high on Sunday, May 4th reached 102°F in Wichita, KS burying the old record of 94 for May 4. It was also the earliest triple-digit day on record there. Abilene, Texas, reached 104°F on Monday, May 5th, the second-earliest 104-degree day on record. The earliest recorded 104°F reading in Abilene occurred only two years ago on April 25, 2012.

The unseasonably high heat and tinder-dry conditions from the Extreme drought  have resulted in extreme fire danger for parts of Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Oklahoma, and Kansas. A wildfire broke out this past weekend near Guthrie, Oklahoma, and another broke out yesterday in Woodward, Oklahoma.The fires have already prompted thousands of evacuations and resulted in one death.

Fire Weather outlook issued by the Storm Prediction Center.

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