Weather Articles

Discover the Park – Park Info

Beauty from above: A winter hike on the Lakeshore trail

Beauty from above: A winter hike on the Lakeshore trail

It has been a winter of extremes: the warmest December on record in many parts of the northland, historically low ice coverage on Lake Superior, and then the plummeting temperatures of mid-January. There were windless days on end with the lake barely rippled and then a storm bringing gusts up to 53 miles an hour at Devils Island churning the lake into waves of 12 to 15 feet.There is beauty in extremes, the kind of beauty that can turn a hike into a journey through a landscape of enchantment. Recently, our Executive Director Jeff Rennicke ventured into that enchanted landscape and sent back...

Thin ice: How historically low ice coverage affects Apostle Islands, Great Lakes

Thin ice: How historically low ice coverage affects Apostle Islands, Great Lakes

It's open water - not ice - as far as the eye can see. Not only in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore but across all of the Great Lakes. As of New Year's Day, less than 1% of Lake Superior was ice-covered - a tiny percentage but still the largest percentage of any Great Lake. Combined, ice covered roughly one-third of one percent of the surface area of all of the lakes as of the first of the year; that's the lowest level in 50 years and the percentage is growing very slowly. As you can see on the map from the US National Ice Center, ice on Lake Superior is now mostly confined to the bays...

Abnormally dry conditions in the Apostle Islands prompt cautions about fire and potential bear encounters

Abnormally dry conditions in the Apostle Islands prompt cautions about fire and potential bear encounters

As drought-like conditions continue in much of northern Wisconsin, users of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore are urged to be very careful with fire and to be vigilent about potential interactions with hungry black bears. As of June 21st, the Wisconsin DNR says the fire danger in Bayfield, Douglas and Ashland Counties is high, meaning "wildfires ignite easily, spread rapidly and can be challenging to control." The number of northern Wisconsin counties classified as "high danger" increased dramatically from June 20th. As the DNR graphic below also shows, the fire danger in the blue...

“Discover the night” in the Apostle Islands during International Dark Sky Week

“Discover the night” in the Apostle Islands during International Dark Sky Week

30 miles offshore, Devils Island and Outer Island offer some incredible views of the Milky Way set in a field of innumerable stars. And if you’re very fortunate, you'll witness the spectacular northern lights dancing in some of the darkest skies in Wisconsin. The featured photo above captures the northern lights as seen from the top of the Outer Island lighthouse. In fact, most of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore offers great night sky viewing; night sky lovers, stargazers and photographers want to protect those views for generations to come.Milky Way over Stockton Island - Jon...

The lake effect is in full effect in the Bayfield and the Apostle Islands

The lake effect is in full effect in the Bayfield and the Apostle Islands

The winter of 2022/23 is one for the record books for Bayfield and the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. A massive 158.7 inches of snow - so far - makes this the snowiest winter on record. Thanks to the lake effect snow machine, the previous record of 150.3 inches in 2013/14 didn't stand a chance. And while we're several weeks into meteorological spring, you wouldn't know it in Bayfield. Friends board member Erica Peterson says, "Spring is supposed to enter next week with temps in the 50s but today winter lake effect is in full display. I wouldn't trade our last few days of winter for...

Friends shares top social stories of 2022 as we anticipate an exciting 2023

Friends shares top social stories of 2022 as we anticipate an exciting 2023

"Oh, the weather outside is frightful." Yes, it's a line from the holiday standard, "Let it snow," but it also applies to this story. As we wrap up 2022, we're looking back at the top social stories of the year and weather is among the most popular topics. For this year-ending Top 10 list, we're looking at the Friends Facebook posts and related stories that reached the most people and sparked the most interest.At number ten on the list, "Talk about a beautiful sight. Today is #WorldWaterDay 2022." Our Facebook post featured this satellite photo showing the Apostle Islands locked in ice,...

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...