The Lake Temperature
Living next to Lake Michigan makes weather forecasting more of a challenge in Milwaukee, Sheboygan and Racine compared to Madison, La Crosse or Wausau.
The lake affects us year round, but especially in the spring when inland areas can be in the 80s and the lakefront about 20 degrees cooler if the winds are light. If the winds are strong out of the west like last spring, the lake “effect” is basically removed.
I put the lake temperature on my weather maps since it is a crucial component to our weather and I get that data from a few different sources. The National Weather Service has 2 weather buoys set up in Lake Michigan that records weather conditions and water temperature. One buoy is 43 nautical miles SE of Milwaukee and the other is about 30 nautical miles east of Washington Island and Door County…placing both in the middle of the lake.
Satellites also provide surface water temperature as sensors measure the temperature from space, but if it is cloudy, we get no data. The water temperature in the middle of the lake for the northern buoy is 37 degrees and for the southern buoy, 40 degrees. The water temperature near the Milwaukee shoreline is 45 degrees…about 5 to 10 degrees below normal for this time of year, which could lead to more ice cover this winter. The last time the lake froze over was 1979.