The winter of 2013-2014 was an epic season for the Keweenaw Peninsula as the region has been withstanding relentless snowstorms and unusually cold temperatures. More than 300 inches of snow have been recorded to date.
Surrounded to the east and west by great expanses of Lake Superior, the exposed 45 mile long peninsula is geographically positioned to become trapped in a cycle of winter storms. As the surface of the lake warms, condensation rises and is blown east across the land mass where it cools and becomes snow. Not since 1979–the last epic winter on record–and only a few times since records have been kept historically, has this amount of precipitation fallen.
+ Ice coverage on Lake Superior reached 96% at the end of February, exceeding all other measurements since 1979. Because of this ice, spring sunlight hitting the surface of the lake will be bounced back into space, and it will take longer for the region and entire east coast to warm up this spring and summer. There are 54 days until we set the moorings for the season and 68 until the first resident artist arrives from Berlin.
+ Thanks to satellite technology we are able to keep an eye on the lake as it shifts on an hourly basis. NOAA CoastWatch satellite images of Lake Superior are updated twice daily.
+ Snowfall this year is 314.5 inches and even 10 days into spring it is still coming down. The local snow thermometer can be viewed here.
+ Approximately 65 miles to the northwest of Rabbit Island lies Isle Royale National Park, where this winter one of ten remaining resident gray wolves crossed the ice to mainland Minnesota. Sadly, it was discovered dead, leaving only nine wolves left in this special national park, as well as a moral conundrum over what to do if the population continues to decline. On Rabbit Island (where we side with the basic tenet of non-intervention in wilderness) it will be interesting to see if mammals have migrated over the rare 2014 ice bridge. There is a small chance we could have deer, coyotes or bobcats in our midst this summer.
+ The following local scuttlebutt was received recently via email detailing how several Keweenaw residents took advantage of the unprecedented ice in mid March: “Allegedly two guys were crazy enough to leave the east side of the Keweenaw Peninsula and go the thirty miles out on Lake superior to Stannard Rock to ice fish. Crazy, EH? When they got there they were the last to arrive; 17 other idiots were already there. No report on the catch. This comes from a good and reliable source.” A fine example of Sisu if ever there was.
+ The average water temperature of Lake Superior in a typical August is approximately 60 degrees, allowing for several minutes of comfortable swimming at best. In August of 2012, water temperatures reached a record 74.8 degrees after a near iceless winter and above average summer temperatures, which made the lake water abnormally comfortable. This summer, in light of the current 95% lake ice cover, we’re likely on the hook for historically refreshing dips.
+ Approximately ten miles from Rabbit Island as the crow flies is the house on S. Iroquois Street where the Rabbit Island idea was hatched. This is a photo of how much snow was in the yard two weeks ago.
+ To date we have not stepped foot on Rabbit Island in winter, though are planning a trip in winter 2015 after the sauna is complete.
+ Heikki Lunta is the local embodiment of the Finnish snow god character, who originated in the United States in the mythology of the Upper Peninsula. If ever there was a time to sing the traditional song "Heikki Lunta Go Away", it is now.
+ The photos above were taken over the past three months by Jerome Johnson of Rabbit Bay. Several of these were taken in the last week of March! Many thanks, JJ.