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      Snow on the Fourth of July

      The temperature at 5,000 feet the morning of July 4, 1967 was chilly. The number 273 on the northeast end of Lake Superior is the 32-degree Farenheit line. So snow could have formed, but with temperatures in the 50s, a snowflake would not have survived a trip to the ground.

      I canâ??t tell you how many times Iâ??ve had someone tell me they saw snow on the Fourth of July. Most of the time, the person telling me does not have a definite year, but a range of two or three years. I will then go into the records and look at the weather on the Fourth during those years. Inevitably, the temperature will turn out to be too warm to support frozen precipitation.

      Now Iâ??ll state this right off the top. If you are a person who has seen snow on the Fourth, I canâ??t argue with you. You saw what you saw and thatâ??s that. However, I remain skeptical. First of all, why does it always snow on the Fourth of July? Why not the 3rd, the 5th or the 6th? If I heard one of these days, I might be a bit more impressed.

      The years that are most often cited for snow were the cool 60s and 70s. In fact, according to the number of different years Iâ??ve been given, it seems as if it snowed on about half of the years in these two decades. There definitely were some cool summers during this time and some cool Fourth of Julys.

      The coolest Fourth during that stretch was in 1967. Temperatures aloft were unusually chilly for July (Image above). The high in Marquette was 56 and the low 45. Thatâ??s still way too warm to support snow. It may have been a little cooler outside of town; but not that cold. And, clouds that would have accompanied any precipitation would have kept temperatures up. A high of 56 and a low of 45 would never support snow in the winter, so how could it snow in the middle of summer when the ground and lower layer of the atmosphere is at its peak of warmth?

      Most recently, I had someone tell me they saw snow on July 4, 1992. This was the infamous â??Year without a Summer.â?? It was cool and cloudy that day, but the high at the NWS near Negaunee was 60 and the low 45. Thereâ??s no way a snowflake could survive a trip of several thousand feet from base of the cloudâ??it would have melted before reaching the ground.

      Snow on the Fourth of July is part of U.P. lore. It fits right in with sayings like, â??Up here, thereâ??s nine months of winter and three months of rough sledding.â?? We love to talk about the weather, especially the cold, snowy weather. It impresses the visitors and lets them know how tough we are. Yet, sometimes weâ??re prone to exaggeration. Again, if youâ??ve seen snow on the Fourth, I will not say you could not have seen it. Yet, the supporting evidence for these wintry sightings is thin and I remain a skeptic.