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Submitted by journalist on February 25, 2018 - 6:17pm
Lake Michigan is a sacred body of water we Wisconsinites have the privilege of living next to. Every season allows a different identity of Lake Michigan to shine. The summer is of the most obvious; the beaches along the coast, fishing off piers, sailing races, kayaking; really any water activity thrives during the summertime on Lake Michigan. Spring thaws the massive glaciers along the coast. The blue skies and shining sun brings the lake to life again. The brisk breeze off the lake in the fall reminds us cold temperatures are on their way. Then when winter arrives the lake becomes a slushy abyss. The sub-freezing temperatures make the lake a seemingly horrifying hazard. However, the lake is just as mystical during the brutal winter months as it is in the other seasons. The winter lake creates natural phenomenon that us winter sport advocates directly benefit from.
The lake-effect is mother nature blessing surrounding areas with generous snowfall. The lake-effect brings cold air masses over warmer lake water. The lower layer of air picks up water vapor from the lake, rises to colder air above, freezes, then deposits as snow on the downwind shores. The air almost acts like a sponge, sopping up all the moisture from the lake and wringing it out on land as snow. The greater the difference between the lake temperature and air temperature, the more moisture the air will take in. Thus more water frozen and snow deposited. The greater the distance moisture travels before reaching land also determines the extent of the snowfall; the greater the distance, the more time for moisture to build up, the greater the snowfall. This phenomenon really only lasts through February, when the lakes begin freezing over and drop in temperature. The air cannot pick up any more moisture when there is a layer of ice on top of the water.
The Great Lakes are a hub of lake-effect snow. The Upper Peninsula specifically reaps the benefits of this influx snow off Lake Michigan. The snowbelt in the UP around Houghton, Marquette and Munising can get averages between 250-300 inches of snow a year. Areas like Duluth, Minnesota get around 78 inches a year off Lake Superior. Because the lakes rarely freeze over, the lake-effect continuously drops snow throughout the season.
Resorts like Mount Bohemia and Big Powderhorn succeed off this lake-effect snow. Bohemia currently has a little over 270 inches of snowfall. They frequently brag about their powder days on their website, often receiving six inches of snow overnight. Powderhorn has 132 inches of snow this season. The resorts give Midwesterners great options to hit the slopes without heading out west.
Hoofers Ski and Snowboard has trip out to Bohemia this coming weekend. The trip filled in a matter of a couple of hours, showing some true excitement from students around campus. If you did not make it on this trip, rally some friends and drive up. You can definitely still hit the slopes with SNS, provided your own transportation and lodging. It will be worth it. Bohemia just got six inches of fresh powder over the weekend. Pack your overnight bag and strap down your skis because Bohemia is the move.