May 25-
    Getting another late start today and for the same reason as last time. We have had 2 1/2 days of beautiful weather and tomorrow looks to be OK as well. Warmed into the 80's yesterday and again today.
    In keeping with the theme of the holiday weekend and to not work too hard, this will probably be a shorter one. I did want to write tonight though, so that tomorrows work load would be a little lighter for me.
    It's funny though that just a few years back, temps in the 80's would have caused me some grief, especially with working outdoors, but ever since my two heart surgeries, the heat does not bother me as much. The cold does not bother me any more than it used to as well, so I am thankful for that- especially living were we do!
    Speaking of cold, the NWS in Marquette keeps some awesome records of our past weather and every month, they send out a recap of the past month, as well as any interesting tidbits about the weather in the past few months. This latest report said that the period from December 1 through April 30 was the all time coldest for Houghton, with a departure from average of 8.1 degrees below. That may not seem like a big number, but in reality, for a 5 month period, that is a HUGE number. Typically by the time you are out to a 5 month period, departures will be more along the line of a few degrees. They also said that Lake Superior rose 3" in the month of April and stood at 3" above the historical average for this time of the year and was 16" higher than it was at this time last year. That's a lot of water to raise the height of a lake like Superior 16" in one year. The ice cover this past winter likely had a big role in that it did not allow as much evaporation to occur, but we also had a lot of moisture fall (in the form of snow mainly) in the basin this winter. I guess the bottom line is that the lake has a pretty full belly right now and I would imagine that some folks that had to drop their piers because of low water levels the past few years have had, or will have to raise it this season.
    With all the nice weather we have been having, all the Dee's have been doing a lot of work outside. I have been busy getting all I can get done on the screened in porch and I was able to get all the inside work done and yesterday Nora and Gracie helped me put up the exterior siding. The screens will come in late on Wednesday, so weather permitting, I will be able get them put up on Thursday and then be done. I did encounter a few black flies this afternoon while working, so hopefully they will not get too bad before we can get the screens up.
    This past week, I also put Big Red to use in helping me move the scaffolding. In all the hustle and bustle of the building last autumn, I never put it away, rather I just leaned it all up against the shop, underneath the roof to protect it a bit from the elements. So rather than take each piece one by one to move it, I was able to put the forks on Big Red and have her move everything for me. I have quite a few projects lined up this summer that she will be able to help with.
    With temps in the 80's, Gracie was itching to play in the sprinkler, but both of ours did not survive the winter so well, so Nora picked up one specifically designed for playing in and both yesterday and today, Grace had a blast playing in it.
    Even with all the warm temps and the fact that it is almost June, we still had two piles of snow left around the house. The first was where I had piled it up with the ATV plow and the blower. At one point it was over 10 feet high. This morning it was around 2" and by around 3 pm this afternoon, it was gone. The other pile was on the back side of the house and was simply where the snow fell off the back side of the addition roof. It never got exceptionally deep there, probably around 6 feet deep, but it was shaded for much of the day, so melted more slowly. It too was around an inch or two deep this morning and is now gone.
    I have not been by the Laurium Glacier in a few weeks, but Nora went by it a few days ago and said it was still a long way from melting. So it looks like it will be down to those with June guesses that will be the winners. I will try and get a picture of it this week.
    So I guess that about covers it for this one. For those of you wondering when the summer forecasts will start up, I think I will start June 2nd. That is a few weeks later than is usual, but I have been having some issues with my internet service (which I seemed to have been able to resolve), which kept me from starting it earlier and this coming week I will be ramping up some of the activity with my full time weather gig and do not want to toss too much onto the fire at once. So hang on, just a week and a day and they will be going.
    Have a wonderful Memorial Day everyone! and...
Good night from the Keweenaw..
JD-

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May 18-
    Getting a later start than is usual, but for a very good reason. We finally had a perfect spring day today, with temps topping out around 70 degrees and lots of sunshine. We pretty much spent all day outdoors, both playing and working. I will get more into that in a minute.
    I can say it was sure nice to have such an awesome day today. Even yesterday was beautiful. The snows melted all week and on Wednesday, I took a look at a high resolution, false color enhanced satellite image to see where there was still some snow. Our yard and woods were bare, but I knew that the higher terrain up in Keweenaw County must still have had some snow and the satellite imagery showed just that with the white color on the image over the last 1/3rd of the tip of the Keweenaw. Looks like there might have been a bit of snow in the general vicinity of Toivola when that shot was taken as well. Even though there were some clouds in other spots of the UP when that shot was taken, I have been looking at the same source for that imagery for a few weeks and have been watching the snow depart the ground across the rest of UP as well as the ice melt in the big lake.
    As mentioned, our yard was bare on Wednesday, but mother nature could not let it stay that way, as the flakes started to fly Thursday afternoon and when we woke up Friday morning, there was a fresh inch of snow down on the roofs. The driveway managed to hang onto enough heat to keep it bare and I had to use my truck to travel to town because our internet was out, but the woods were all coated in snow.
    A few flakes were still flying until around 8 am Friday and then they stopped and it did not take long for that snow that had fallen to melt off and the ground to dry up as well. A good thing though, as Saturday was the annual spring ATV ride. The usual group members were actually split into 3 separate groups this year, but we had Dave, his daughter Jenna, and then a local friend Mark and friend I have made through the website, Kris. It would have been fun to have some of the others along, but they had already made their plans and I am also glad that the ride did not grow into one with 20 or ATV's/side bys, as big numbers can lead to more trouble than fun.
    Anyway, we hit the trail around 10 am from my house and it did not take too long at all for us to find a bit of snow to slog through. With the recent snow melt, the creeks were still quite swollen and made for some fun crossings. Of course there were some mud holes to try out and get stuck in- as Dave demonstrates here.
    It was a perfect day for an ATV ride, with temps in the 60's, low humidity, a mix of sun and clouds and little to no dust. Things were actually quite a bit drier than I thought they would be. I dressed in my traditional rubber rain suit, but in reality, did not really need it at all. I guess had I wanted to get a little crazy through the puddles, or play a game of splash the other riders, then the suit would have been needed, but most of the others were not wearing the full rubber gear and I did not want to get them soaked, so stayed dry myself too. Even though things were drier than I had expected, they were not dry and we did find plenty of mud to play in, water holes to cross, as well as hills to climb and vistas to take in.
    However, with the exception of a few patches of snow here and there, the first few hours were spent not riding in much snow, so we decided to head to some of the high country to see if we could find some more serious snow to play in. Even though we did not travel too far up into the tip of the Keweenaw, as soon as we started to get into the higher terrain, the snow became much more plentiful. So much so that the trail started to look more suitable for snowmobile than ATV. We encountered a little hill that was pretty well buried in snow and a few took a run at trying to make it up. Kris was riding our bike with the big tires and winch on it, so I borrowed it to try and make it up the hill. I almost made it before getting hung up. I was able to get myself turned around with the aid of the winch and headed back down the hill, but that was as far as we could go on that trail, so we double backed and took some routes that were less covered in snow.
    We made it back to our house by around 5:30, all safe and sound, a little sun kissed and pretty worn out. But as many of you can attest to, it was a good exhaustion. We put the bikes away, got out of our muddy gear and chatted for a bit, then went in and had some dinner and it was not too much longer that Kris and I called it a day and headed off to sleep.
    Gracie and Nora did not sit still while we were on our ATV ride though. They headed down to the Jacobsville area to check in on Nora's grandparents gravesites and to do some exploring. They found themselves at Bare Butt Beach, where Grace got to try out the new beach toys that Kris brought up for her. Nora also spotted a commercial fishing boat working the edge of the ice on Keweenaw Bay. Nora and Grace also told Kris and I that they had seen lots of wildlife on their trip to Jake. Here is a picture of a porcupine and here is a bald eagle they saw. Both of those were taken with a smartphone, so that eagle sure was close!
    So as mentioned, today was a beautiful and busy day. It was already 51 degrees when I fed and let the pups out at around 7:30 in the morning. That is typically the coldest time of the day and it was already warmer than we have been in most of the days this spring, so I could just tell it was going to be a nice one. 
    We had breakfast with Kris and then said good-bye as he headed back to the Minneapolis area to re-join his family. Then we leashed up the pups and all of us went for the morning walk. Upon getting back, I finished up my regular Sunday work and then Gracie and I headed out to move the rest of the uncut firewood closer to the wood boiler, while Nora planted some flowers. The firewood moving went quite well, thanks to the help of Big Red. We were able to pick up a bunch of logs at a time with the forks and then move them off the driveway and over to near the wood boiler. That helped to serve two purposes. First, no more wood chips will be put down on the driveway and then have to be cleaned up later and secondly, the cut wood will be nice and close to the boiler! I was hoping to be able to move the wood like that way back in late March or early April, but the weather had different ideas.
    After getting the firewood moved, I moved onto finishing out the tongue and groove in the screened in porch. I had worked on the screen porch for much of the week when I had time. There was actually some wiring that still needed to be done Monday and Tuesday and then I got to putting up the tongue and groove Wednesday and Thursday and was able to finish up the T/G this afternoon and then Nora, Gracie and I put together the furniture for the porch and by the time all of that was said and done, it was time for a nap! Truth be told, Gracie was only faking it for that shot, but I think we ALL will be sleeping pretty soundly tonight. Lots of fresh air and physical exercise today!
    I still need to put the exterior siding up, trim out the windows and install the screens, but with a little luck, that will all be able to get done this week. The screens have to go up last and I really would like to get them in before the bugs arrive. We have had a few mosquitoes pop up in the past few days, but they are not too bad yet and it is the black flies that I am really trying to beat to the punch. So wish me luck! I can say that I think that screened in porch will be getting a ton of use once it is all done. In fact, a few journals may even be written from it.
    So I guess that about covers it for now.
Good night from the Keweenaw..
JD-
May 11-
    Happy Mothers Day! Well, it appears as though spring has finally taken hold around here. Much of the week was spent in cloudy weather again, but temps were much warmer and we have had two beautiful days back to back today and yesterday, with temps in the 60's and sunshine. I even have shorts on as I type this! Ok, maybe that was too much info, but it sure is nice to have the sunshine and warmer temps.
    On Monday we took the pups in for their annual lube, oil and filter and both got a good report. Millie is a perfect weight for her size and Huck could stand to loose a few, but the vet said that he is actually average sized for a lab his age. They got all their shots and made sure to say hi to everyone at the vet office. 
     The warmer temps has really set the snow to melting. We are now down to just patches in our woods as well as the piles that were created by plowing. On Tuesday we had a school millage to vote on, so that afternoon, the pups and I hopped in the truck and headed north to Eagle Harbor to vote. For some reason that is where they have our township vote, even though Eagle Harbor is in a different township (but same school district). It was a pretty nice day, so we took the long way through Eagle River, stopped off at the falls to view them rage and then headed to the beach for the first time all season. It's funny how the pups can just know what we are heading out to do. I probably mentioned the word beach somewhere in my conversation with them as we were getting ready to head out, but as we headed down the highway to Great Sand Bay, they got more and more excited and bounded out of the truck when I opened the door to let them out.
    It sure does my heart good to see them romp around on the beach and have such fun. Last summer the fun times were pretty limited for them. They did not complain, but I sure did feel guilty for not being able to take them to the beach or out into the woods as often as we usually did. Anyway, they had a blast chasing each other around on the beach and even had some patches of snow left to cool them down with. I was actually surprised that they did not go for a swim. They did wade out into the water and took a couple of sips of water, but no full immersion. Sure the water was probably just a few degrees above freezing, but that has never stopped them in the past. I guess they might actually be getting older!
    After voting, we headed up into the higher country to check out the snow there. The trail crossing we came to still had enough snow on it to ride, but from the road, I have seen spots on the trails up this way with no snow on them and once you are south of Calumet, pretty much all the trails are bare. As we climbed further into the high country, the snows got deeper and deeper and at one point we reached a point where there was still a solid 2 feet on the ground, with some spots looking more like 3 feet on the ground. It actually looked so good, I was half tempted to see if I could scrounge someone up to ride with me, but decided not to. Although it would have been a fun ride. We could have gone anywhere we wanted! As I drove home, an idea popped into my head about how awesome it would be to take a spring snowmobile ride in the morning and early afternoon and then toss the sleds into the back of the trucks and head down to the beach for a cookout with my riding buddies. So that is now officially on my bucket list. In most years we have the type of conditions where there is still plenty of snow in the high country, with the beaches clear, the main trick will be to have the weather be cooperative on a weekend to make it happen.
    On Thursday, I picked up Gracie and she was all happy to show me how well she could ride her bike after having the winter off. I have a feeling that the training wheels will be coming off this summer and once she gets the hang of that, a new bike will probably be in order. That one is getting pretty small, but I think the smallness will be a benefit when she learns to ride it without the training wheels.
    We had some big thunderstorms both Wednesday night and Thursday night. Wednesday nights activity brought over 1" of rain and tons of lightning and thunder. We even had a bolt strike so close that the flash and boom happened at the same time. It also made the clock radio by my bedside buzz (even though it was not on) and I swear it even did something to my pacemaker- momentarily. I was fully awake and a split second after the lightning strike hit, I felt my heart flutter or jump or something and it was not because of being startled by the lightning and thunder. I was startled, but the feeling I had was a lot more like the feeling I had when they tested the pacer and purposely made it make my heart beat faster than it normally would. The feeling I had did not last more than a couple of seconds, but was very real. I did do some research on the internet to see if what I had experienced had any other occurrences and did find a couple of others that said they too experienced something similar. While there was no official declaration that it would happen, it seemed like there were a few persons qualified enough to say that the EMP (electro magnetic pulse) generated by a very close lightning strike could cause the pacer to do some strange things momentarily. Anyway, all is good with the pacer and me now and I am not pacer-dependent, so even if it totally died on me, I would be just fine.
    Speaking of my heart, it was just 3 years ago yesterday that I got to take my 7 1/2 hour ambulance ride to the Mayo Clinic and that means that this coming Saturday will be the 3 year anniversary of my second open heart surgery. Boy, it sure seems like it was a lot longer than 3 years ago that that happened!
    With the second heavy round of rains Thursday night, combined with the warm temps most of the week, the input into the creeks, streams and rivers was incredible. I was checking the readings from the gauge on the Traprock River early Friday morning and it was off like a rocket. The NWS was on the ball and issued a flood warning for the Traprock and once I was done with my morning work, I headed down in the truck to check things out. My first stop was where Angman Rd passes over the river. They put in a new bridge there a few years back and I believe that they raised it as well. A good thing, as the waters were high enough to no longer pass freely underneath it. A little north of the bridge, the ground was low enough that the river was flowing over the roadway.
    When the river floods, it does not cause major problems. A few of the roads do get covered with water and there are some homes down near where the river dumps into the Torch Lake in Lake Linden that can have some yard flooding and I suppose the basements flood too, but I have yet to see any home inundated by the high water, although this camp sure was close!
    My second stop was where Cemetery Rd crosses the river. This is the spot where the river gauge is located. They also put in a new bridge here back a few years ago and they may have raise it as well, although the waters there were just about ready to flow over the bridge. The brick structure in that last shot was part of the river gauge and the aluminum boom in the water was the gauge itself. When that shot was taken, the river was at around 10.6 feet deep, which was just shy of the all time record. An hour later, the gauge did report a new all-time record high of 10.8 feet. Interestingly enough, the old record was on May 10th (one day later), back in the record snow year of 78-79.
    Here is a shot of the other side of that bridge at what the locals call "Bekkala's" swimming hole. Not a very good day for swimming, although this muskrat did not seem to mind the conditions. I drove down to Lake Linden to see how things were faring down there and other than some yards flooded, nothing too exceptional seemed to be happening, so I headed back north. Before climbing out of the valley, I shot over to see where the river flows under Woodbush Rd and there too, it was high enough to be flowing over the roadway.
    Nora stayed home from work on Friday because she was not feeling so good, but by the end of the day, she felt well enough to be able to take a ride with us to go and check out the Eagle River Falls once again. They were cranking! I am not sure if that is the most that they have been flowing, as there was an April many years ago that we had a lot of snow melt and around 4-5" of rain at the same time, but if they were not at an all time high, they had to have been close. Even the usually timid Jacobs Creek Falls up the highway from Eagle River were rocking and rolling.
    As mentioned, the weather was quite nice both yesterday and today. So we got busy taking care of some spring clean up. I pulled the blower off of Big Red and put the loader on the front. Nora and Gracie took on the challenge of cleaning up the screened in porch. Technically it is not screened in yet and is not even finished yet. I figured I would either try and finish it up in the autumn before winter set in for good, or get to it in the spring. The problem was, we ended up with a lot more snow in there than I though we would get. So at one time, we had 2-3 feet of snow piled in there...all on top of a bunch of stuff I did not know where to put in the hustle and bustle of finishing up the main parts of the addition last autumn. The girls worked hard though and got all the junk out and it is now ready for me to finish. In fact, I am going to switch gears and that that all finished out, along with the screens, before the bugs come and in time to enjoy it. Then get back onto finishing up the kitchen.
    Today we all got out pretty early to enjoy the day. Temps were already in the 50's by mid morning and we had clear blue skies. Gracie made up a hopscotch field and she and Huck took turns play that for much of the morning. Huck is better at it than I thought he would be! :)
    This afternoon, we all took our official first walk in the woods. It was absolutely perfect for it and we all actually had wished that we had put on shorts and t-shirts. Even so, we all had a great time and it was fun to watch the pups dash up and down the trail and Gracie try her best to keep up with them. Nora spotted a pretty big buck rub from last autumn and the pups must have smelled something up in this tree, because they both climbed right up to investigate. Gracie thought that all that tree climbing looked like fun, so once the pups hopped down, she got up there.
    So I guess that about covers it for this one. Things are finally changing around here from winter to summer. We still have some snow to go and a lot of puddles to dry up, but soon the summer fun will be happening in earnest!
Good night from the Keweenaw..
JD-
May 4-
    Happy May? Really? Is it really May? Could have fooled me and just about everyone else in the Keweenaw. Talk about a nasty run of weather. We have been in a thick overcast for 7 days straight. At punctuated by fog (very dense at times), light rain, drizzle and even some snow flakes. The snows did not amount to much around here, although the higher terrain west of Marquette did pick up a few inches on Thursday. Our high temps for the past 7 days have been running in the upper 30's to low 40's. Pretty much the exact type of weather I hate the most. 
    The mud month is the only time period where I think I might be happier living somewhere else. The only thing that helps to get me through the mud month is the fact that we usually have some very sunny and mild days. So this week has been exceptionally hard for me to stomach. To add insult to injury, as I sat down to do this entry, the clouds suddenly broke and as I look out my office window, I see a beautiful blue sky and the sun shining down. So this is a real commitment for me to be sitting inside writing this, rather than out taking in the sunshine. 
    Part of the reason I am not outside is that we have to go to an AWANA awards program for Gracie this evening, or I might have put off the entry until later today, but do not have that luxury today. 
    I am a silver linings kind of guy and there have been the silver linings to the weather we have had this past week. Even though the thought of more snow is not that appealing at this stage of the season, I STILL get excited when I look out and see flakes flying. I guess that is the sign of a true snow freak. I am sure most others felt their heart just sink, but for some reason, mine fluttered. Plus, I would rather deal with some wet snow that will melt off almost instantly, than a cold rain. At least the pups and I can take in a walk when it is snowing and refrain from it when it is raining, especially a cold rain.
     The other bright side to the dull weather was that I was able to get some work done on the addition/remodel. I was able to finish up all the trim work in the addition and kitchen, which meant that all the major wood working was done inside the house. Which meant that I could finally take all the tools that have been sitting on a temporary storage shelf in the foyer and move them back into the shop and then take the shelving unit down. So the house is now completely free of the tools I used to build it. My HUGE thanks to Nora for putting up with them in the last almost 12 full months! It sure is nice to come into the foyer and not see all those tools sitting there. Both from an aesthetic standpoint, but also psychological one, as I am not constantly reminded of the work that still needs to be done. There is still some cabinetry work to be done in the kitchen, but I even got some of that done this week and plan to keep chipping away at the work left in the kitchen and with luck be done in around 2 weeks. Then I just need to finish out the screened in porch and all will be done!
    The final silver lining- and I am starting to dig real deep here- is that on Tuesday, the final bit of snow finally melted off the roof of the addition. So for the first time in around 6 months, we had no snow what so ever on our roof! As you can see, there is still some piles left from the last dumping and where I have moved it around via ATV/plow and snow thrower, it is still over 8 feet deep in spots. However, there is some sunshine seen in the forecast for this week and even some temps in the 50's to near 60, so it will start to fast now. I do not know when it will all be finally gone, but I suspect that in about a week, most of it will be gone from the woods and then the bigger piles I have will be gone in a week after that. The sun is so strong (about as strong as it is in early August) that if given the chance, it really melts the snow off quickly.
    Even with the more limited snow melt this week, the rivers still rose. The Sturgeon River in Chassell was flirting with flood stage all week and the Traprock River got pretty high, but managed to remain a foot or so below flood stage. On Tuesday, the whole family took a car ride to the east side of the peninsula and this was the look of the Tobacco River just northeast of the hamlet of Gay. I have often wondered if anyone ever shoots down that river on a kayak when it is running hard. There are some pretty good rapids on it.
    Our main purpose for heading out to the eastern side of the peninsula Tuesday was to observe a strange phenomena called an ice surge. That is when ice that is still floating on a body of water like a lake is moved by strong winds and the ice actually gets shoved up onto the land. It is somewhat common on the inlands lakes of MN, WI and lower MI, but pretty rare up this way. Sunday night and Monday we had very strong east to southeast winds and those winds caused some of the ice that was floating to the east of the Keweenaw to pack in along the shore and pile up. Here is a satellite image of the ice piled up against the eastern side of the Keweenaw.
    Now, from 1000's of miles from space things may not look so dramatic, but you get yourself right up and into where the shove occurred, and it is a different story. Here is a shot of the shove as seen from Big Traverse. Traveling a bit south, the impacts of the shove got more dramatic and actually started to cause some damage. That was an out building, a sauna I believe, that was damaged in the last shot and here is another view of that same building. It was actually a pretty short stretch of the shoreline that was impacted by the shove. I had heard about the shove and seen some pictures before heading out and quite honestly, I was expecting to see a lot more area impacted than I did. Thankfully, it appears as though all of the structures used for living were sparred by the ice, although this one was a close call!
    Some of the ice was the consistency of an icee that you might get in the summer to cool you off from an ice cream vendor, while other pieces were chunks several feet thick. From the talk around town, no one can ever remember seeing such a thing happen up this way, at least to that extent. Just another rarity from a rare winter, I guess.
    Last week I had some pictures of damage done to some of the trees up this way and this week, with the snow melting off of around 1/2 of the septic field, I was able to walk around with the pups one afternoon and have a look at our own damage. The first thing that caught my eye was a large branch on the peach tree that had been snapped and also the fact that the tree itself is leaning around 60 degrees to the left. So the limb will need to be removed and the tree more properly shored up. Sound like maybe a good job for the tractor :). There were also some fir trees at the edge of our yard that had been snapped off towards their top. Not much that can be done to them.
    Speaking of a job for the tractor, I have my first real big one for it as soon as all the snow melts. That is to dig some trenches and lay some train tile to help drain the area of driveway between the house and shop and also provide some drainage from where the lean-to will be built to store the tractor. I also plan on widening the driveway just a bit. Not cutting down any trees, but using the backhoe and loader to widen the area that can be used for the driveway and then to spread some mine rock down.
    So I guess that about covers it for this time around. It looks like I might have finished in time to be able to get out and take in some rays of sunshine before we have dinner and then head to Graces program. I will leave you with one final picture and that is of the Laurium Glacier on Monday. It's a monster! I have never seen it this big, even in the dead of winter. So for those of you that guessed any day in April for it to melt, you obviously did not win and I suspect that anyone with a date in May will also not win. I just cannot see how I will melt before the end of this month. Then again, nature never ceases to amaze me!

Good night from the Keweenaw..
JD-

 

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