Weather Articles

Discover the Park – Park Info

The Big Chill: What causes dramatic changes in Lake Superior water temperatures?

The Big Chill: What causes dramatic changes in Lake Superior water temperatures?

After a hot, sweaty hike, there’s nothing more refreshing than a dip in the lake at Julian Bay Beach on Stockton Island. If Lake Superior stays calm enough long enough, the shallowest water, warmed by the sun, can be pleasantly refreshing. Wade out farther and you’ll find the significantly colder water just a few feet below the surface. However, if you throw in some wind and waves, the water temperature can and does drop dramatically. On a much larger scale, surface water temperatures in Lake Superior are always changing, as they are in Julian Bay. In late July surface water temperatures on...

Attention Paddlers and Boaters: The Buoys are Back!

Attention Paddlers and Boaters: The Buoys are Back!

“The lake is the boss” and “know before you go” are literally words to live by when kayaking in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Before your next paddling or boating adventure, it pays to learn as much as you can about the weather forecast and wave conditions. Lake Superior can be glass-calm in one instant and a short time later you might face three-foot waves from a fast-moving storm. The islands themselves influence wind and wave patterns every day and the cold water presents and ever-present risk of hypothermia. That’s why proper gear, training and forecast knowledge are so...

Of Sun Dogs and Sunlit Winter Mornings in the Apostle Islands

Of Sun Dogs and Sunlit Winter Mornings in the Apostle Islands

Peppermint. On mornings this cold – minus 8 degrees Fahrenheit with a wind chill dipping even lower – each breath tingles against your teeth like peppermint. Each step in the new snow squeaks beneath my boots. In cold like this, it takes a strength of will to get out so early but there are rewards too, like what lies in the sky just ahead. For many of us, the Apostle Islands are a picture-perfect summer postcard kind of place – the “singing sands” beneath your feet in Julian Bay, the sky-blue waves on the horizons, the echo of water dripping like notes played on a harp deep in the sea caves....

Explore the Top 10 Friends website stories of 2021

Explore the Top 10 Friends website stories of 2021

DRUMROLL PLEASE! It has been a big year in the Apostle Islands -- from fun and fanfare to tragedy averted. During this last week of the year,, Friends of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is counting down its TOP TEN Island stories of 2021. In sharing these stories, we thank you, our readers and supporters, for your support and we wish you an adventure-filled 2022 in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. 10 HERE WE GO: Weather stories always resonate with Island Lovers, so the #10 most popular story of the year goes to the tall birch trees dancing in the big gale. 9 At #9 on our...

Dance of the Birch Trees

Dance of the Birch Trees

A walk in the dancing forest this morning reminded me of another windstorm, this one in December of 1874 and made famous by John Muir. While others ran for shelter, Muir “lost no time in pushing out into the woods to enjoy” the storm. Picking a sturdy-looking tree, he climbed as high as he could into the swaying wind, clinging to the trunk as the tree itself “fairly flapped and swished in the passionate torrent, bending and swirling backward and forward, round and round, tracing indescribable combinations of vertical and horizontal curves, while I clung with muscles firm braced, like a...

Sea Smoke: Winter in the air, and on the lake

Sea Smoke: Winter in the air, and on the lake

One morning, usually in December, the lake wakes with Winter on its breath: sea smoke. Officially, the explanation is "surface fog resulting from masses of frigidly cold air directly over warm bodies of water." The sunrise temperature in the Apostle Islands today was a chilly and still 0 degrees. As cold as that air temperature is, the thick body of Lake Superior cools more slowly than the air, greedily holding on to the slow summer heat. Lake temperature today was 43 degrees F. And the lake wrapped the islands in ribbons of sea smoke. Whatever the official definition of “sea smoke” is, it...

Real-time wave information expands for paddlers and boaters in the Apostle Islands

Real-time wave information expands for paddlers and boaters in the Apostle Islands

APOSTLE ISLANDS NATIONAL LAKESHORE, WISCONSIN (Wisconsin Sea Grant News Release)  – The brains behind the SeaCavesWatch.org website have developed a new website that offers real-time wave condition information for the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Lake Superior. Before venturing onto the lake, paddlers and boaters should check WISC-Watch, which stands for Water Information for a Safe Coast Watch. The WISC-Watch site provides information from seven spotter buoys recently deployed throughout the islands, plus Chequamegon Bay near Ashland and Siskiwit Bay near Cornucopia. The buoys...

Weather forecast change for Apostle Islands boaters, paddlers, sailors, is now in effect

Weather forecast change for Apostle Islands boaters, paddlers, sailors, is now in effect

In an effort to improve boater safety, changes made by the National Weather Service will result in marine forecasts and alerts targeted specifically to an area in the Apostle Islands that had been covered by offshore forecasts. The Weather Service Forecast Office in Duluth is removing a large portion of the offshore zone (in purple) and turning it into a near shore zone, which includes the Apostle Islands beyond 5 nautical miles from the mainland. This change allows forecasters to deliver marine forecasts and small craft advisories tailored to the unique conditions in the islands. National...

And the sky danced – northern lights put on a show in the Apostle Islands

And the sky danced – northern lights put on a show in the Apostle Islands

CRACK! The lake ice is restless tonight, crackling out in the darkness like old bones, weakened by wind and warm spring days. But I am safely on solid ground along the mainland portion of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. It is nearing midnight. The stars overhead are as bright as sparks from a campfire. But it is not lake ice or campfires that have me out this late, alone and in the cold. It is what is happening just above the ice: here in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore the northern lights are out.  Northern lights over York Island with a meteor tail on the left - Jeff...

Summer solstice 2020 in the Apostle Islands

Summer solstice 2020 in the Apostle Islands

Can you feel it? Whether obscured by clouds or not, the sun is at the highest point in the sky at 4:43 PM on June 20th, 2020. It’s the exact time when we celebrate the summer solstice in the 50th year of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Also known as estival solstice or midsummer, this once-in-a year solstice event happens when the north pole has its maximum tilt toward the Sun. And if you think the days are long right now in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, imagine being north of the Arctic Circle. There night never falls. It’s light outside, 24 hours a day. In the converse,...