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      Our Chances at a Record: Jan 29, 2014

      Ice is building rapidly over a good share of Lake Superior with only the far eastern third with any significant open water.

      We are in the midst of a cold winter. It started the second week of December and, except for relatively brief interludes of mild weather, itâ??s hung on. December with a mean of 10.9 degrees was over 7 degrees below average. As January closes, the mean temperature sits under 6 degrees. It will be the coldest January since 1994. While that January was much colder (a 2.8 degree mean), December 1993 was mild until the deep freeze set in late. This winter will be remembered as a long one.

      The record alluded to in the title is the most consecutive days below the freezing mark of 32 degrees. The record goes back to legendary winter of 1978-79. That was the year a record 390.4 inches of snow accumulated in Keweenaw County (Image above). It was snowy and cold. December was around 3 degrees below average, while both January and February were over 7 degrees below the long-term standard. During this winter there were 72 consecutive days with a high temperature below freezing. So far, this winter has racked up 55 straight days.

      The prospects of challenging this record are good. Colder than average weather will likely hang on into mid-February at least (Image 2). It will be cold, but it does not look very snowy. The main storm track in this pattern should remain to our south. In addition, the unrelenting cold has produced a lot of ice on Lake Superior (Image 3). A good deal of it is likely broken and/or thin, so wind will tend to break it up. However, with continued below average temperatures, the ice will continue to grow and limit lake-effect snow, especially over the western U.P. where the ice upwind is most extensive.