Tuesday, July 17, 2012

In hot water

Last weekend in Grand Marais, MN I had to opportunity to sneak out on Lake Superior with Bryan Hansel during a lull in his kayak touring business.  I had thrown in my Brooks tuliq, a wise choice I thought, given my past experiences with the north shore's water temps in the high 40F range.  Not so appropriate this year according to Bryan.  We were out about a half mile from the harbor entrance and the water had to be in the high 60's F for sure.  I saw the NOAA map (above) and realized that the whole lake seemed to be about 10F above the average norm.  Tomorrow both Mr. Hansel and  I head for Grand Marais, MI and the GLSKS and I'm seriously questioning what I will bring in order to 'dress for immersion'.

The ridiculous heat this summer, 100F here in Minneapolis/St Paul yesterday, has also caused ridiculous water temperatures in both inland lakes and the Great Lakes.  Normally Lake Superior is around the mid 50'sF this time of year and doesn't warm up to the temperatures we are seeing now until a bit before Labor Day.  Lake Michigan is even warmer with a buoy in the open lake recording an 80F reading last Friday, a high that has been acheived only 6 times since 1981 and never this early in the year.  A relatively ice free winter gave the lakes a head start and the above mentioned high temperatures have only accelerated the lake warming.

 So I believe I will be off to the GLSKS tomorrow with only my lightweight shorty neoprene in tow.  My drysuit with its newly replaced neck gasket will get to stay in the garage.  Last Sunday the VOR and I  chased the Hjordis off Grand Marais harbor, a 50' traditionally rigged schooner owned and operated by the North House Folk School.  Son GuitarMatt and his lady friend Kirbette were out on the boat for a late morning tour.  Both of us had gotten smart and worn light wool with a thin outer layer.  Because the breeze was not blowing over 50F water, even a paddle jacket was way too warm.  Standing in the water for rolling instruction may be a different story but I don't think so.  Its gonna be a great year for Lake Superior swimming but maybe not so good for those that rely on its cooling influence and the flora and fauna that count on cool temps to survive and flourish.  Put me down firmly in the 'cold is better' camp. 

1 comment:

Nan said...

A phenomenon I find positively frightening is the growing number of cars parked along US 41 between L'Anse and the community of Keweenaw Bay that belong to people who have stopped to swim in Lake Superior. There used to be one or two isolated, sheltered areas near L'Anse where you could, if you were lucky, find comfortable swimmable water a few days out of the summer. Now it's many miles of beach and it's day after day after day. All that swimming means the lake has changed a lot; the warmer water has to be having an effect on the fish populations.