Drummond Island Weather Watching Guide
By Dean Sandell
A portable weather radio is an essential amenity for up-to-date weather information and weather forecasts for kayak touring and related decisions making.
High Pressure Weather Systems:
In the Northern Hemisphere, air flows clockwise around a high. The largest of these systems sits over a region for days and takes on the characteristic heat and moisture content of the region. The high then becomes an air mass that can cover many thousand square miles. A familiar spot for high-pressure development is the eastern Atlantic Ocean. This high becomes the “Bermuda High” that pumps heat and humidity toward Upper Michigan in the summer. Stationary highs from mid July to mid September produce very desirable and produce the magnificent Drummond Island sunsets. The well known folk saying, ‘Red sky at night, sailor’s delight’ generally portends good weather the following day. A folk saying worth remembering and a forecast to look forward to.
In the warm season, the Great Lakes become huge, natural air conditioners, since water warms much more slowly than land. The characteristics of water means that the Great Lakes and the air at the surface retain the winter chill well into the warm season. The chilly air over the water is more dense than the warmer air over land. So, the cold, lake-chilled air regularly moves inland with a lake breeze. This phenomenon gives rise to the familiar forecast phrase “cooler near the lake.”
Warm air with relatively high moisture content flows across Lakes Michigan, Superior and Huron and quickly saturates, forming great fog banks that roll inland along the shore. A fog bank is very cool to see and watch. However, if you are paddling and are overcome by the fog, the setting changes from easy and familiar to one with no sense of orientation and total wilderness in moments. It is truly amazing.
This effect is most frequent in the spring and early summer when the water is the coldest. By late summer and early fall, the Great Lakes have finally reached their warmest levels of the season. And, the fog is less likely to occur.
The air flow around a high promotes stable, fair weather. In Upper Michigan, the approach of a high-pressure system in the cold season often does just the opposite—the northerly component to the wind ahead of it blows across Lake Superior and results in cloud development and lake-effect snow. So if paddling in the late fall and you hear a high is coming in, prepare for some interesting weather.
The most interesting weather will come out of the east, spring, summer or fall, with an approaching low pressure weather system. At the approach of a storm from the east, it is time to get close to shore and make plans to exit the lake as soon as necessary.
Here are four weather terms that signal “vigilance” for paddlers and require that a plan for keeping safe is in place:
Trespass and Litter
According to Michigan trespass law, MCL 750.552, Section 552, trespass is applied to:
“Any person who shall willfully enter, upon the lands or premises of another without lawful authority, after having been forbidden so to do by the owner or occupant, agent or servant of the owner or occupant, or any person being upon the land or premises of another, upon being notified to depart there from by the owner or occupant, the agent or servant of either, who without lawful authority neglects or refuses to depart there from, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than 30 days or by a fine of not more than $50.00, or both, in the discretion of the court.”
Dumping of filth, garbage or refuse on the property of another, without permission shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
Trespass and Litter
Being somewhere you were not invited is a trespass, but under Michigan law if you are present on private land or premises being for safety or shelter it is not likely to be considered a willful act of trespass. If you trespass accidentally, as in an emergency, it is very unlikely a citation would be issued. Leaving a mess of trash and other debris can be considered a misdemeanor, as well. Unless there is an emergency, respect private property and do not trespass, because private lands are ‘off limits’. Under all circumstances, practice the ‘Leave No Trace Ethic’<<www.LNT.org>>> and carry out anything you carried with you on your travel. Especially, be careful to leave no fire scar when you leave any site. This kind of respect for the land regardless of ownership will demonstrate the kind of courtesy that will keep sites open for visitation and use.
As a rule paddlers have demonstrated the best possible stewardship that can be expected. Users of the Drummond Island Heritage Water Trail are more likely to take out more litter than the supplies they traveled with at the beginning of each trip. Paddlers generally are the steward of the earth that all other user could aspire to imitate, and that would be ‘a good thing.’ Give tribute to the landscape and waterscape as sustainable resources, as the First People honored the land and water for thousands of years in the past.
While listening to you weather radio if you hear a forecast for gusty wind, winds can become sudden and potentially intense. This isn’t much of a problem if you can watch the clouds and waves to read the weather. Stay alert and enjoy the day
If you hear the forecast forwinds from 32-63 mph/ 28-55 knots, winds are picking up and paddling can get challenging. If winds are increasing, a storm with sustained winds from 64 to 73 mph or 56 to 64 knots can be difficult to negotiate.
While on the water you might experience a strong wind lasting a few minutes with an equally sudden decrease in speed. This event is a squall. If the wind speed is 16 knots or higher and if it last for a few, couple of minutes, it is considered a squall. A squall line is evidenced with a well marked line of strong gusty wind turbulence and showers or thunder storms
This is a snow storm with winds at 35mph and visibilities are less than ¼ mile for an extended period of time. It can come out of the west as a high, or out of the east as a low. In any case it can be intense, exciting or dangerous. So, assess the situation and do as much as you can enjoy.