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      11-29-1877: Prelude to the Warmest Winter

      The latest sea surface temperature anomaly map shows a patch of cold water near South America, with slightly above average temperatures west to the Dateline.

      A "driving snowstorm raged all day" in Negaunee on November 29, 1877, Thanksgiving Day. The snow fell so thickly at times it hindered a shooting match held in town. There likely was not much snow accumulation because in Ishpeming, they wanted more. â??Come on, ye snowstorms!â?? wrote a reporter. â??Two feet, three feet, ten feetâ??cover us up with snow, only donâ??t let us see that outrageous hematite mud again for six months to come.â??

      This Thanksgiving snow was followed by the warmest winter on record in Upper Michigan. Landlooker John M. Longyear called it "The Snowless Winter." He later recalled that loggers were put to great expense in getting their product out of the forest due to the lack of snow. This exceptional winter stands out because it occurred during a stretch of otherwise frigid cold seasons. The main reason for this anomalous winter appears to be El Nino. A historically strong warm phase of the Equatorial Pacific Ocean dominated during the winter of 1877-78. A strong El Nino correlates to warm, generally dry winters in Upper Michigan.

      This year, after two winters of strong La Ninas (the cold phase), the sea surface temperature of the Pacific in this region is close to neutral, neither exceptionally warm nor cold (Image above). That means we will have to look at other factors to help determine what sort of winter may be on the way for us. We will look at some of those factors Friday.