Thursday, December 18, 2008
Storms, weather, and a new lock
After mentioning in my last post that I hadn't seen a good Lake Superior Nor'easter in a couple of years, GurneyGranny emailed me and told me that I missed a good one last weekend while I was out in Portland enjoying the Pacific storm. I asked her how big the waves were and was told that she had no way of knowing because she never left the house. This was not the answer I was looking for so I checked the two Lake Superior weather stations linked on my blog, Devils Island and the mid lake buoy. I discovered that neither was functioning.
The reason the mid lake buoy was not functioning made complete sense and I should have known, give the fact that I did a post on removal of the navigation buoys. Duh. "Buoy 45006 has been recovered for the winter and will be redeployed in the spring. When the redeployment date is known, it will be posted in the weekly maintenance report". I guess it would be hard for a weather buoy to report wave height when it was frozen in the ice. I thought I had my ace in the hole however, the Devils Island weather station. It's lack of functionality was more of a head scratcher. "Station DISW3 failed on 11/20/2008. It will be restored to service when it can be worked into the schedule. When the service date is known, it will be posted in the weekly maintenance report". I guess I can't blame them for not rushing out to fix the thing however. Getting to Devil's Island this time of year could be problematic and the environment once the island was reached would just not be very hospitable. Given the alternative though, I guess I'd rather go out there now, or at least before or after the bug season. I was talking to the lighthouse volunteer on Devil's who said that a couple of years ago in June two guys came staggering up to the door of the Keepers Quarters, loaded down with gear, sweating profusely, and breathing like they had just finished a marathon. They were two repair guys, up from St Louis to fix either the automated light or maybe the weather station. When they were dropped off at the dock, a mile south of the lighthouse, they immediately realized that they were food; every black fly and mosquito on the island seemed to zero in on them and they ran the mile to the light station with all their gear. Give me cold and snow every time; I despise biting insects. They did get the problem fixed however, and I hope they get the weather station fixed soon as well so I can check the conditions on Devils, and mutter to myself how glad I am to be sitting in my replacement LazyBoy blogging.
A much larger project than fixing the Devil's Island weather station is being discussed again also. Maritime interests on the Great Lakes have renewed their push for a second large lock at Sault St Marie. The Poe lock, built 40 years ago, is the only lock that can handle the thousand footers like the American Spirit in the photo, that comprise 70% of the traffic into Lake Superior ports. Apparently, like many things our Congress 'authorizes', the new lock has been OKed but not funded. On any number of occasions I've authorized and OKed free beer at various pubs but none was forthcoming due to funding issues. Congress seems to have the same problem. Part of the push this time around will be job creation, both to build the thing and also the permanent jobs that would be created if the ports were open year round with increased traffic. We shall see how it plays out. Since the Obama administration is going to fix all of our woes, I guess they might as well add this one to the list. Maybe we could tie funding to a ballast water treatment regulation. That way we could have the economic benefits to the area without the risk of more lampreys, zebra mussels, Eurasian milfoil, or any of the other vermin that have hitchhiked to the lake when the salties exchange their ballast. It sounds like a win-win to me but I'm not holding my breath. There could be politics involved. In the interim the shipping season will close January 15, the lake will partially freeze, the ice road will open from Bayfield to Madeline Island, and I'll be marking the days on the calendar until Canoecopia in mid March.