ASK TOM: Lake Michigan has very little impact on our weather?

Dear Tom,

My daughter insists that Lake Michigan has very little impact on our weather, but I disagree. Who is right?

—Mike Livingston, Des Plaines

 

Dear Mike,

In this case, father knows best. Without Lake Michigan on Chicago’s eastern doorstep, the city would have a far more continental climate, with warmer days, colder nights and a greater daily temperature range. The loss of cooling lake breezes would bring a more uniform temperature distribution across the metropolitan area in spring and summer.

There would be a decrease in cloudiness and precipitation without lake-effect snow and rain, lake breeze-generated thunderstorms and rain-generating frontal boundaries that often stall at the lake’s south end. Late fall storms would bring more snow as northeast winds would not carry lake warmth inland, changing snow to rain.

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