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Buoy logs highest wave ever recorded in Lake Superior as first snow hits the UP

Oct 25, 2017

The "gales of November" came early to the Upper Peninsula and Lake Superior. To make things extra interesting, snow hit the ground today too, and more is on the way.

On Tuesday, this stormy weather produced a 28.8-foot wave at the Granite Island buoy located north of Marquette, says MLive chief meteorologist Mark Torregrossa.

“That’s the highest wave that’s ever been recorded with modern records on Lake Superior,” he says. Still, Toreegrossa says, accurate buoys have only been measuring waves on Lake Superior for ten to thirty years, depending on their location. 

The storm also produced winds up to 77 miles an hour at Stannard Rock in Lake Superior.  One weather buoy way out in the Lake recorded winds up to 107 miles an hour, but that could have been an error, he says.

A snapshot of the wave height from the Great Lakes Observing System.
Credit Great Lakes Observing System

"Because it's the only report like that," Torregrossa says. "But again, you're looking at an instrument spacing of, you know, 50 to 100 miles away. So, we don't know! It was in the middle of what looked like the heaviest rain and maybe even a thunderstorm out there in Lake Superior. So maybe it was true."

This storm has already claimed two people, swept off Black Rocks at Presque Isle Park on Tuesday. Marquette police say they're still looking for 53-year-old Robert Anderson and 37-year-old Sarah Hall, both from Iron River. 

The maritime event Torregrossa calls “bomb cyclogenesis” is the culprit behind this storm. It’s the same sort of storm event that took down the Edmund Fitzgerald back in 1975.

It’s when a storm gets “very deep, very quickly.”

“These storms are kind of like a bowl or a valley, so to speak, and when that valley deepens, then in comes the wind to rush in to kind of fill that,” he says.

Listen above for the full conversation. You’ll learn more about this stormy Michigan weather and what sort of snow is in store for parts of the state over the next few days, and into November.

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