A big storm battered the Upper Great Lakes October 26-27, 2010. A powerful jet stream blew off the Pacific on Sunday October 24. This wind energy translated eastward and wound up a record-breaking low pressure system over Minnesota two days later. The barometric pressure fell to 955.2 millibars (28.21 inches of mercury) at Bigfork, a town northwest of Hibbing and south-southwest of International Falls (Images 1 and 2 above). This reading smashed the old Minnesota record of 962.7 millibars set during the big fall storm of November 10, 1998??a system which took a similar path to this one. That storm produced a reported wind gust of 90 mph on Mackinac Island. While the 2010 version fell short of that mark, there was still lots of wind.
A number of land-based stations observed wind gusts near to above 50 mph. A couple of the more impressive reports included a 55 mph gust at Sawyer International, as well as the Newberry airport and the Seney DNR office. Along the lakeshores winds were clocked at 68 mph at Grand Marais and at Fairport on the Garden Peninsula. The highest winds were observed at Point Au Braques (Bark Point) on the east side of the Garden Peninsula with a 71 mph gust during the late afternoon of the 26th. And the Escanaba water treatment plant recorded a gust of 71.6 mph. The strong winds brought down trees and led to extensive power outages over large sections of Upper Michigan.
The persistent howling winds really stirred up the waters of the Great Lakes. The northern Lake Michigan buoy recorded waves up to 22 feet. Waves at the Lake Superior buoys were up to 20 feet. This storm really turned over the waters of Lakes Michigan and Superior. The surface water temperature at the Lake Michigan buoy was in the 50s before the storm; after the storm began subsiding, water temperatures were down to 45 degrees. Cold-water upwelling also took charge on Lake Superior. After a summer with near historic warmth, surface water temperatures plummeted from near 50 into the low to mid 40s. By the way, surface water temperatures on the big Lake now are at about the same level, which is close to average for this time in the fall.The Autumn Gale of 2010 slowly unraveled and drifted northeastward through Ontario. The winds gradually subsided and the month ended on the cold side of average. However, October 2010 still wound up 2.8 degrees above the long-term average. November 2010 followed suit coming in at 3.7 degrees above normal.