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Gale Warnings issued for Lake Superior, Michigan and Huron; waves up to 26 feet forecast

Oct 21, 2019 06:00AM ● By Editor
Large waves crash into the South Haven Lighthouse in South Haven, Michigan on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019. According to the National Weather Service, waves were said to be 12-15 feet with winds gusting up to 50 mph. Photo: Joel Bissell |

By Tanda Gmiter of - October 21, 2019

Gale Warnings are being issued by the National Weather Service for the Great Lakes surrounding Michigan as another high-wind fall storm system takes aim at Michigan.

And as to be expected as the calendar marches toward November, Lake Superior is not messing around. Waves up to 26 feet high are forecast for our biggest of the Great Lakes during Monday and Tuesday’s storm, which is likely to send freighters seeking safe harbor close to the Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota shorelines. 

Gale warnings are issued when winds are forecast to gust between 39 and 54 mph.

The storm system that whips into Michigan on Monday and sticks around until early Wednesday is expected to bring rain, high winds and big waves that are predicted to eat away more duneland along the lakes’ shoreline, the NWS said.

The Gale Warnings go into effect at different times Monday for each lake, and wave forecasts are different for each. Let’s take a look:

Lake Huron

The Gale Warning goes into effect from 2 p.m. Monday to 4 a.m. Tuesday. Sustained winds of 35 mph from the southeast are expected, with gusts up to 47 mph. Maximum winds are expected around 9 p.m. Monday. The biggest waves are expected to reach 11 to 16 feet, with the waves peaking around midnight.

“Deepening low pressure to the west will lead to a transition to moderate easterly flow tonight,” the NWS said. “This low is forecast to deepen throughout the day Monday supporting a transition to uniformly strong southeast flow with gusts to gale force expected Monday afternoon through Monday evening. This will be especially true over northern Lake Huron where gusts to 40 knots or more seem plausible by Monday evening.”

“Winds will veer to the southwest late Monday night into Tuesday, with gale or near gale force gusts expected again after a relative lull during the morning hours.”

Lake Superior

The highest waves are forecast for our northernmost Great Lake. The gale warning is in effect from 2 p.m. Monday to 1 a.m. Tuesday, with sustained winds of 43 mph from the east, and gusts possibly reaching 54 mph, the NWS said. 

Maximum winds are expected around 8 p.m., with the largest waves expected to peak around 11 p.m. 

“The largest expected significant waves will be 18 feet, with a maximum wave height of up to 26 feet possible,” the NWS said.

“Operating a vessel in gale conditions requires experience and properly equipped vessels. It is highly recommended that mariners without the proper experience seek safe harbor prior to the onset of gale conditions.”

Lake Michigan

“Strong southeast winds will develop ahead of the approaching low on Monday, followed by strong south to southwest winds Monday night and Tuesday,” the NWS said, adding that wind gusts over the open waters of Lake Michigan may top 50 mph at times.

The Gale Warning goes into effect at 9 a.m. Monday and lasts through 1 a.m. Wednesday - the longest of the warnings for our Great Lakes.

Waves of 8 to 11 feet are expected on Monday, with some forecast to reach 14 feet, and wave action continuing into Tuesday. 

Meteorologists predict this will be a longer high-wave action storm than the one we saw last week. That storm washed away 20 feet of dunes along some areas of Lake Michigan, prompting the NWS to label it the most shoreline-destructive storm since 1986.

Nearshore Marine Forecast
National Weather Service Duluth MN
957 AM CDT Mon Oct 21 2019

Grand Portage to Grand Marais MN-
Grand Marais to Taconite Harbor MN-
957 AM CDT Mon Oct 21 2019


REST OF TODAY...Northeast wind 20 to 25 knots with gales to
around 35 knots rising to gales to 35 knots with storm force
gusts to around 45 knots in the afternoon. Slight chance of rain
late in the morning, then chance of rain early in the afternoon.
Rain late. Waves 4 to 6 feet building to 9 to 14 feet. Waves
occasionally to 18 feet. 

TONIGHT...East gales to 35 knots with storm force gusts to
around 45 knots becoming southeast 20 to 25 knots in the late
evening and early morning, then easing to 5 to 10 knots with
gusts to around 20 knots early in the morning. Patchy fog through
the night. Rain and slight chance of thunderstorms in the
evening. Rain likely after midnight. Waves 10 to 15 feet
subsiding to 5 to 8 feet. Waves occasionally to 19 feet. 

TUESDAY...South wind 10 to 15 knots becoming west with gusts to
around 25 knots in the afternoon. Rain likely. Waves 4 to 6 feet
subsiding to 2 to 4 feet in the afternoon. Waves occasionally to
7 feet. A small craft advisory may be needed. 

TUESDAY NIGHT...Northwest wind 15 to 20 knots. Chance of rain
showers in the evening, then slight chance of rain showers after
midnight. Waves 1 to 3 feet.