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      Running on Wheels: March 20, 1884

      A warm spell graced Upper Michigan at the conclusion of the long, hard winter of 1883-84. The relative warmth brought out wheeled vehicles. â??Everything was running on wheelsâ?? in Negaunee from March 20 to April 14, 1884. Then a two-day snowstorm brought out the runners until the last week of April. After the storm, it was a disagreeable spring.

      The light keeper at Ontonagon claimed â??the entire length of April was a reverse of Marchâ?? at his location. He noted cold, wintry weather deep into the fourth month. On April 26, a south to southwest wind finally moved the ice â??off shore a short distance for the first time.â?? However, the cold spring weather continued, and on the first day of May he could still observe ice on the lake â??as far as the eye can see.â?? He recorded ice along the shore in Ontonagon as late as May 19.

      A diarist in Negaunee chronicled the more notable cold events of spring 1884: â??April 28th, Cold and Snow; May 2nd, slight snow flurry; May 13th and 15th, snow flurrys; May 27th Pretty cold, ice formed and overcoats worn with comfort.â??

      Here are the mean temperatures in Marquette for December through March 1883-84:

      D 20.2

      J 9.8

      F 8.6

      M 20.6

      Now the mean temperatures at the National Weather Service (NWS) near Negaunee for December 2013 through March 19, 2014; remember the mean temperature at the NWS will normally run a few degrees colder each month:

      D 10.9

      J 5.8

      F 5.6

      M 13.0

      Itâ??s clear to see that even allowing for a few degrees allowance for warming in the city at lake level, this winter is colder than the one 130 years ago. The months of December and March stand out most starkly. This winter will be remembered for the long duration of cold. By way, the coldest March at the NWS is 17.5 degrees set 30 years ago in 1984. That figure will be easily surpassed. The coldest March in Marquette history will be more difficult to attain. The next winter after 1883-84 featured a March with a mean temperature of 12.1 degrees!