Lake Blasts Marquette, Western Lake Superior
Posted on: November 1, 2017

Marquette storm damage is shown in the latter part of the above 2′ clip.

Drownings Directly Related to Storm

Two people have drowned in Lake Superior near Marquette, Michigan after a severe storm blasted western Lake Superior during the week of October 24th. Most of western Lake Superior on the U.S. side saw at least minor storm damage and flooding. Conditions on the Canadian side while stormy, were less extreme. Information about a couple of locations at more populated centres on Lake Superior follows.

The drownings occurred when two people were swept off the “Black Rocks” area at Marquette’s Preque Isle Park, a lakeshore recreation area in the city. At time of writing, the park remains closed to both pedestrian and vehicular traffic due to storm damage and hazards. Shoreline erosion, undercutting and land collapse are some of the dangers, exasperated by Superior’s high water levels. Area roads, trees, shoreline, and other Marquette parks also sustained damage. The city is working on cleanup. Winds registered 77 mph/123 km/hr. at Stannard Rock lighthouse, some 40 mi./64 km. northeast of Marquette,

In a separate incident to the drownings noted above, a well-known Marquette videographer describes a “near miss” during the storm (1′.27″ video clip).

Widespread Damage Along Marquette Shoreline

The parking lot at Marquette’s waterfront Shiras Park was also destroyed. City officials are discussing options, including redesign, as rising water levels, erosion, and loss of trees impact the park. Lakeshore Boulevard was damaged as well and parts of the street were completely underwater during the storm. Sand and debris covered parts of the street and stone riprap protecting the street from Superior was washed into the lake. The city was able to carry out repairs to the roadway after the storm hit but a second phase of the storm completely washed out this initial work. The city is considering plans to move the road further from the lake, which could cost in the neighbourhood of 10 to 12 million.

Duluth’s Park Point Residents Increasingly on Edge

In Duluth, Park Point residents probably had it worst [Park Point is the narrow sand spit dividing Duluth’s inner harbour and the St. Louis River estuary from the open waters of Superior. There are many homes on the spit.] Already on edge about Superior’s near record water levels, residents have become increasingly alarmed as they’ve watched their beach disappear, along with undercutting of adjacent soil and grass. In comparison to the seventies and eighties, the lake is now approximately 100 feet closer to some homes. This includes the 20 ft./7 m. or so the lake reclaimed in this latest storm. Additionally, some Park Point yards were submerged and several basemements flooded. The rest of Duluth also saw relatively minor waterfront damage, along with gravel and debris scattered over shoreline boardwalks and bike trails.

Concerns about drinking water were also raised by Duluth city officials, who said sediment stirred up by the storm made for a heavy load on the treatment system. They pointed out that the water supply still met very high standards but recommend that appliances like dishwashers and washing machines, which use large quantities of water, not be used.

There’s a Name For This Type of Storm

Weather.com actually has a term for the type of storm that recently passed through western Lake Superior. They call it “bombogenesis.” The site says this is an area of rapidly intensifying low pressure with a drop of at least 24 millibars in 24 hours. Weather.com says this type of event can happen at any time of year, but, “is most common from October through March, when a powerful, intensifying jet stream disturbance forces air to rise over a strong near-surface temperature contrast.” The Great Lakes have a history of such storms.

More on bomogenesis at weather.com.

This surfing clip taken during the storm probably shows the waves best (3’12”).

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