When the Gales of November Come Early: Record-Breaking Waves on Lake Superior (207)

Brett Borchardt, NOAA / NWS, Marquette, Michigan



On October 24th, 2017, a powerful fall storm system impacted the Upper Peninsula of Michigan bringing hurricane-force wind gusts and record-breaking giant waves on Lake Superior. The giant waves lead to the erosion of 20 to 30 feet of beach along the Lake Superior shore as well as considerable lake shore flooding. Unfortunately, two people lost their lives after being swept away by waves in the city of Marquette, Michigan. All the while, strong winds downed power lines and hundreds of trees. While strong storm systems are common around the Upper Great Lakes in the fall, the size and impact of the waves were unprecedented. This study will provide a review of the storm and examine the effects of increased Great Lakes water levels on giant wave heights. Such an increase in water levels has led to new decision support challenges associated with strong fall storm systems.