Wednesday, September 5, 2012


Rain clouds brought welcomed moisture to northern Door County
late Labor Day Monday afternoon.

Detroit Harbor, Washington Island -

There's something about watching a thunderstorm develop in the west, the energy of white clouds lifting and rolling at the lip, dead silence for a short time before the wind shifts from the direction of the storm, then peals of thunder and torrential rain.

Its a powerful experience, one we haven't witnessed for awhile, and it came at the end of the afternoon of Labor Day.  Ferries had already delivered weekend visitors to the mainland, those returning to their homes to begin work or school the following morning, and except for golfers in the Monday men's league at Deer Run who may have scattered indoors, this storm and the moisture it delivered came with perfect timing.  The weekend - the whole preceding week, for that matter - had excellent weather, sunny skies, temperatures that ranged in the 70s.  We could smugly say how happy we were to be living here.  Then the weekend, too, was ultra-fine, the type of weather any visitor can appreciate, for any sort of activity, with a full moon - a blue moon - that beamed upon the waters of the harbors, fields and pastures.

According to several people with home rain gauges, precipitation ranged between 2-3".  John Delwiche, official Island Weather Observer for NOAA who lives near East Side Road, measured just under 2" as an official Washington Island entry.  But, John acknowledged that a mile this way or that could have easily made the difference of half an inch or more, so concentrated were the downpours.
(John's synopsis for August indicates that total Island August precipitation was 29% of the past 30-year average, and it was the 4th driest August since 1945!)

Will this rain help lake levels?   Certainly, though it was quite concentrated in the northern lake region,  will make some difference, but just how much is hard to say.  There is a lot of lake to fill, not to mention swamps, ponds, creeks, the water table underground, and so forth.   A wet fall from here on can only serve to benefit the overall level, however.

Monday, in what we observed as a good trend, the lake level increased a few inches, enough to sneak out for a sail without getting stuck.  We hope that level holds for awhile.

- Dick Purinton