Boston broke an almost 100-year-old record by reaching 97 degrees on Thursday, August 4. Salt Lake City tied its all-time record of 107 degrees on Sunday, July 31. Europe and Asia are also experiencing record-setting heat waves. But during these unbearable temperatures, one place is actually colder than normal this summer.
Ready to pack up and go? Let’s head north to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
Amid Record Heat in Summer 2022, One Place Remains Cold in the US
If you’re looking to stay cool this summer, you’re probably having a hard time. Whether you live in the West, Midwest, South, or Northeast, almost the entire country has experienced higher than normal temperatures this summer.
This has made it especially difficult for RVers who like to journey north to avoid the intense heat. There hasn’t been a location to escape high temperatures this year. In fact, around 100 million Americans have been under heat alerts since mid-July.
But amid these record heat numbers, one place remains cooler than normal: Lake Superior. The largest of the Great Lakes, Lake Superior has a surface area of 31,700 square miles. It has a max depth of 1,333 feet. Because of its extreme depth, Lake Superior is known for colder water temperatures. But in the summer months, the surface water generally gets warmer. This year, the opposite has happened.
Interestingly, the NASA Earth Observatory reports, “Lake Superior’s water temperatures are running more than 7°F (4°C) below average for this time of year.” Lake temperatures usually reflect air temperatures. As a result of colder than normal air temperatures in January and February, the surface temperature of Lake Superior has remained below average.
The water temperatures also impact air temp, and most locations along the shore of the lake are considerably cooler than the surrounding area. The lake acts like a giant air conditioner and mediates temperatures even if they start to climb. It may seem counterintuitive, but it also works the other way in the winter. As long as the lake does not freeze over, the water helps warm super cold air to keep temps above 0 most of the time around the lake in the winter.
If you’re interested in observing lake temperatures, the University of Minnesota Duluth Large Lakes Observatory regularly monitors the western Lake Superior Buoys. These buoys track wind conditions, water temperature, and air temperature. You can see this live information on their website if you’re looking to make decisions about boating activities or other summer recreation on the water.
Is Lake Superior Always Cold?
The water temperature at 660 feet and below remains around 39 degrees year-round. Over the last 25 years, the surface water temperature in August has averaged about 60 degrees.
Because of the cool lake waters, the air is also cooled, providing something like an air conditioner to communities around Lake Superior.
Pro Tip: Curious to know What’s at the Bottom of Lake Superior? The answer may surprise you!
About the World’s Largest Area Lake
To put into perspective, Lake Superior is the size of South Carolina and has enough water to cover North and South America with 12 inches of water. It’s the most northern and western of the Great Lakes and is highest in elevation.
Ontario, Canada, is on the eastern and northern boundaries, Minnesota is on the western boundary, and Wisconsin and Michigan form the southern boundary. Approximately 200 rivers feed Lake Superior, and the lake flows into Lake Huron via the St. Marys River on the east. There are a few islands in the lake: Isle Royale, the Apostle Islands, and Michipicoten are some of the most well-known.
Is Lake Superior a Good Summer Destination?
For travelers seeking cooler temperatures, Lake Superior is an excellent summer destination. It offers an escape from triple-digit heat waves and high humidity. During the summer months, the communities around Lake Superior will experience temperatures 15 degrees to 20 degrees cooler than cities farther inland.
Travelers can enjoy summer days by the lake at one of the many public access points. The clear water permits guests to look 25 feet or more into the clear depths of Lake Superior. The waters are also generally calm in June and July.
Despite being a northern lake, many white sand beaches and tropical blue waters can be found around the lake, making it a wonderful beach destination. However, be ready for a refreshing and borderline bracing dip in it’s cool waters.
Is Lake Superior a Good Winter Destination?
While the waters in the summer provide cooler air temperatures along the shoreline, the warmer waters in the winter mix with the colder air mass moving across the lake to produce lake effect snow.
Some areas in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan are great locations for skiers and snowmobilers. Mount Bohemia caters to advanced and expert skiers with its 900 feet of vertical black diamond runs. Marquette Mountain offers a terrain park for snowboarders and trails for all levels of skiers.
Pro Tip: Explore Michigan like a pro with our Complete Guide to Camping in the Upper Peninsula.
Stay Cool This Summer
If you’re looking for a break in triple-digit temperatures, head on up to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to spend the rest of the summer near Lake Superior.
While you’re there, take a ferry to Isle Royale National Park to explore one of the least-visited and remote National Parks in the country. Rent a boat and enjoy a day on the water or spend the day relaxing along the shoreline. Whether you want recreation or rejuvenation, you’ll find cooler temperatures at Lake Superior this summer.
Will you be packing up and heading north soon? Tell us in the comments!
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