Rainfall over Lake Michigan, as seen from Newport State Park in July, 2016.
Rainfall over Lake Michigan, as seen from Newport State Park in July, 2016.

The climate of Door County, Wisconsin is tempered by Green Bay and Lake Michigan. There are fewer extremely cold days and fewer hot days than in areas of Wisconsin directly to the west. Lake waters delay the coming of spring as well as extend mild temperatures in the fall.[1] Annual precipitation is slightly lower than elsewhere in northern Wisconsin.[2] The county features a humid continental climate (classified as Dfb in Köppen) with warm summers and cold snowy winters.

Charts

Peninsular Agricultural Resource Station

Climate data for Peninsular Agricultural Research Station north of Sturgeon Bay, 1981-2010 normals, extremes 1905-present
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 55
(13)
58
(14)
76
(24)
85
(29)
91
(33)
100
(38)
105
(41)
102
(39)
96
(36)
86
(30)
74
(23)
60
(16)
105
(41)
Mean maximum °F (°C) 41.7
(5.4)
44.8
(7.1)
59.1
(15.1)
72.6
(22.6)
81.1
(27.3)
87.5
(30.8)
89.7
(32.1)
89.0
(31.7)
83.7
(28.7)
73.3
(22.9)
58.6
(14.8)
44.9
(7.2)
91.7
(33.2)
Average high °F (°C) 25.7
(−3.5)
29.0
(−1.7)
38.6
(3.7)
51.7
(10.9)
63.6
(17.6)
73.5
(23.1)
78.7
(25.9)
77.4
(25.2)
69.5
(20.8)
56.1
(13.4)
42.7
(5.9)
30.3
(−0.9)
53.1
(11.7)
Daily mean °F (°C) 18.0
(−7.8)
20.7
(−6.3)
30.3
(−0.9)
42.4
(5.8)
53.1
(11.7)
63.2
(17.3)
68.7
(20.4)
67.8
(19.9)
60.0
(15.6)
47.7
(8.7)
35.9
(2.2)
23.6
(−4.7)
44.3
(6.8)
Average low °F (°C) 10.2
(−12.1)
12.4
(−10.9)
22.0
(−5.6)
33.1
(0.6)
42.6
(5.9)
52.8
(11.6)
58.6
(14.8)
58.3
(14.6)
50.6
(10.3)
39.4
(4.1)
29.0
(−1.7)
17.0
(−8.3)
35.5
(1.9)
Mean minimum °F (°C) −8.9
(−22.7)
−6.5
(−21.4)
2.9
(−16.2)
20.2
(−6.6)
30.5
(−0.8)
39.9
(4.4)
46.4
(8.0)
46.0
(7.8)
35.9
(2.2)
27.5
(−2.5)
15.3
(−9.3)
−1.3
(−18.5)
−13.0
(−25.0)
Record low °F (°C) −29
(−34)
−29
(−34)
−23
(−31)
2
(−17)
20
(−7)
29
(−2)
36
(2)
32
(0)
26
(−3)
12
(−11)
−6
(−21)
−22
(−30)
−29
(−34)
Average precipitation inches (mm) 1.65
(42)
1.25
(32)
1.94
(49)
2.75
(70)
3.14
(80)
3.64
(92)
3.38
(86)
3.47
(88)
3.36
(85)
3.05
(77)
2.49
(63)
1.82
(46)
31.94
(811)
Average snowfall inches (cm) 14.6
(37)
10.6
(27)
7.3
(19)
2.4
(6.1)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.1
(0.25)
2.6
(6.6)
13.1
(33)
50.7
(129)
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 10.9 8.2 8.8 10.1 11.4 10.6 11.0 10.2 10.7 11.4 10.0 10.5 123.8
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 7.2 5.3 3.7 1.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.1 1.8 6.0 25.4
Source: NOAA[3][4]

Washington Island

Climate data for Washington Island, Wisconsin (1991–2020 normals, extremes 1944–present)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 49
(9)
57
(14)
71
(22)
77
(25)
87
(31)
92
(33)
94
(34)
97
(36)
94
(34)
84
(29)
71
(22)
58
(14)
97
(36)
Average high °F (°C) 25.7
(−3.5)
27.5
(−2.5)
36.2
(2.3)
47.4
(8.6)
59.2
(15.1)
69.5
(20.8)
75.6
(24.2)
75.3
(24.1)
67.7
(19.8)
54.9
(12.7)
42.4
(5.8)
31.9
(−0.1)
51.1
(10.6)
Daily mean °F (°C) 18.2
(−7.7)
19.1
(−7.2)
27.9
(−2.3)
38.6
(3.7)
49.6
(9.8)
59.9
(15.5)
66.3
(19.1)
66.2
(19.0)
59.3
(15.2)
47.2
(8.4)
35.6
(2.0)
25.6
(−3.6)
42.8
(6.0)
Average low °F (°C) 10.8
(−11.8)
10.7
(−11.8)
19.6
(−6.9)
29.8
(−1.2)
40.0
(4.4)
50.4
(10.2)
56.9
(13.8)
57.2
(14.0)
50.8
(10.4)
39.6
(4.2)
28.8
(−1.8)
19.3
(−7.1)
34.5
(1.4)
Record low °F (°C) −27
(−33)
−26
(−32)
−26
(−32)
5
(−15)
20
(−7)
24
(−4)
35
(2)
32
(0)
26
(−3)
18
(−8)
1
(−17)
−21
(−29)
−27
(−33)
Average precipitation inches (mm) 1.58
(40)
1.14
(29)
1.73
(44)
2.88
(73)
2.97
(75)
3.08
(78)
2.84
(72)
3.02
(77)
3.22
(82)
3.60
(91)
2.34
(59)
1.78
(45)
30.18
(767)
Average snowfall inches (cm) 15.0
(38)
13.0
(33)
9.5
(24)
5.7
(14)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.0
(0.0)
0.2
(0.51)
3.4
(8.6)
12.0
(30)
58.8
(149)
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 10.0 7.7 7.8 9.6 11.4 10.3 9.7 9.3 9.8 11.7 9.3 9.7 116.3
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 8.7 6.9 4.9 2.4 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.2 2.6 6.5 32.3
Source: NOAA[5][6]

Lake breeze

On hot summer days, cool lake breezes start in around noon and grow more intense by mid-afternoon. This effect can be noticed at the shoreline and around a mile or so inland.[7] Although lake breezes are capable of penetrating considerably further inland, they are able to heat up quickly after passing onto land. After as little as a mile of travel inland, they may be nearly as warm as the air they push away.[8] When a lake breeze encounters an inward curving shoreline, such as at Sister Bay, the breeze becomes more intense. The curve of the shore guides the breezes from opposing sides of the bay and makes them converge upon each other at the middle.[9]

Records and weather events

The most one-day rainfall at the Peninsular Agricultural Research Station was 4.57 inches (116 mm), recorded on August 25, 1910.[10] Lightning damaged multiple areas over a period of ten hours. The electric generator for Sturgeon Bay was shut down as a precaution to preserve the equipment. One man died in his burning barn while trying to save his horses. A train on the Ahnapee and Western Railroad failed to pass through after culverts were found washed out between Forestville and Maplewood.[11]

The warmest maximum temperature at the Peninsular Agricultural Research Station was 105 °F (41 °C) on July 9, 1936.[10] Street thermometers in Sturgeon Bay in the shade reached 108 °F (42 °C), and storm clouds appeared in the west but did not give rain. It was part of a week-long hot and dry spell. County residents, along with hundreds of tourists and seasonal dwellers took time out to find a spot cool enough for comfort.[12] The hot and dry weather damaged the already-poor cherry crop, with typical yields expected at 5 or 6 percent of normal. One processing plant remained shut down for the season, and another opted to open at a limited scale.[13]

Records from Sturgeon Bay in the months prior to the 1871 Peshtigo fire indicate the area suffered from prolonged and abnormal dry conditions beginning in June.[14]

During a period of drought, the northwest corner of Chambers Island burned in a forest and bush fire on July 10, 1963. Nearly 40 acres were burned, which was thought to be caused by the careless use of a campfire. It took seven hours to put out, using green boughs to beat the fire, back pack tanks, and a water pump based in the bay. The county had only 4.24 inches of rain during April, May, and June, compared to the normal figure of 8.90 inches. Only 0.18 inches had fallen at the Agricultural Research Station since the beginning of July, although some parts of the county had received more rain.[15]

The coldest minimum temperature at the Peninsular Agricultural Research Station was −29 °F (−34 °C), which was recorded on five occasions: February 10, 1912, February 10, 1944, February 12, 197, February 9, 1933, and January 17, 1982. Out of the five occasions, February 9, 1933, had the coldest maximum temperature at −5 °F (−21 °C),[10] which was reached following the low of −29 °F (−34 °C) at 7:00 AM.[16] The coldest maximum temperature at the station was −20 °F (−29 °C) on January 16, 1982.[10]

On May 6–7th, 1960, the Peninsular Agricultural Research Station recorded 2.35 inches (60 mm) of rain over 48 hours. 1.85 inches (47 mm) was recorded at the station in Kewaunee.[10] On May 7, the earthen portion of Forestville Dam failed due to the rain. Over a few minutes starting at approximately 7:30 AM, a 35–foot hole opened on the east side of the dam, and within an hour a 15–foot hole opened on the west side. South of the dam, County Trunk J was closed from 9:00 AM until late afternoon due to water pouring over the county trunk. Most of the millpond was drained, and some of the muck was exposed in the center. Flooding from heavy rains also closed Highway 57.[17] Following this, the highway was built up. Heavy rains during May 1979 flooded a town road north of Highway 57, but not the highway itself.[18] The Ahnapee River also flooded in September 1975 and nearly caused another dam failure. Floods on the Ahnapee are expected to reoccur approximately every 30 years.[19]

On January 7, 1967, Washington Island received 17 inches (430 mm) of snow, setting the county record for the greatest one-day snowfall.[20] 17 inches (430 mm) of snow again fell on April 14, 2018, this time at the Peninsular Agricultural Research Station.[10]

On September 22, 1971, a blizzard forced about 620 Southern Door School District students to stay overnight in their school buildings. Some parents were able get their children home in the evening, many using snowmobiles. Busses sent the students home after breakfast the next day.[21]

Ice accumulation during the winter of 2014 was the highest ever recorded on Lake Michigan.[22]

Hail over two inches in diameter has been reported four times in the county. On July 28, 1912, hail the size of a man's two fists was reported near Ellison Bay.[23] On June 27, 1978, a hailstorm hit an area from Sister Bay to Ellison Bay. Tennis-ball sized hail was reported.[24] On September 26, 1998, 2.75 inch hail was reported in Baileys Harbor. On August 9, 2001, 3 inch hail was reported one mile south of Sturgeon Bay.[25]

On June 4, 1955, two were killed by lightning while in a fishing boat about 100 feet from the shore in Sturgeon Bay.[26]

Tornadoes

Four tornadoes touched down between 1844 and 1880, and thirteen from 1950 to 1989, but there were no fatalities in any of them. Two crossed the Door-Kewaunee county line.[27] From 1989 to 2019, there were 3 additional tornadoes, including the F3 "Door County tornado" which hit Egg Harbor in 1998.[28] Additionally there were at least 11 waterspouts between 1950 and 2019.[29]

Date of Tornado Time F-Scale Length Width (yards)[30][29]
July 1, 1956[31] 12:05 PM CST F2 10.6 miles 50 yards
August 16, 1959[32] ? PM CST ? ? ?
August 2, 1960[33] 8:00 PM CST ? ? ?
August 2, 1960[33] 8:00 PM CST ? ? ?
July 25, 1966[34] 6:20 PM CST F0 2 miles 17 yards
April 22, 1970[35] 9:10 PM CST F2 2.3 miles 500 yards
April 22, 1970 9:30 PM CST F2 4.3 miles 500 yards
August 10, 1971[36] ? AM CDT ? ? ?
July 12, 1973[37] 7:30 AM CST F1 0 miles 100 yards
July 1, 1974[38] 7:30 AM CST F1 0 miles 100 yards
September 3, 1975[39] 6:00 AM CST ? ? ?
July 30, 1976[40] 5:00 PM CST ? ? about 3 yards
June 8, 1985 8:00 PM CST F2 5 miles 150 yards
August 23, 1998 5:30 PM CST F3 5.1 miles 1,300 yards
July 13, 2000 2:55 PM CST F0 0.1 miles 50 yards
June 18, 2006 4:43 PM CST F0 N/A N/A

Weather monitoring

Weather in the county is reported by WXN69 (FM 162.425), the NOAA weather radio station in Sister Bay.[41] Green Bay and Lake Michigan ice thickness reports and forecasts are produced by NOAA.[42]

Weather monitors in the county report terrestrial and marine weather conditions:

Location Name and hyperlink Operator Service
Weather radar for Door County Weather Radar for Door County National Weather Service
Sturgeon Bay, Door County Cherryland Airport Door County Cherryland Airport (KSUE) National Weather Service Central Region terrestrial
Clay Banks GHCND:USC00472851 Daily Summaries; NOWData products such as climate normals National Weather Service Central Region terrestrial
Sevestapol, Peninsular Agricultural Research Station GHCND:USC00478267 Daily Summaries; NOWData products such as climate normals National Weather Service Central Region terrestrial
Baileys Harbor GHCND:US1WIDR0011 Daily Summaries National Weather Service Central Region terrestrial
Ephraim GHCND:USC00472626 Daily Summaries; NOWData products such as climate normals National Weather Service Central Region terrestrial
Sister Bay GHCND:US1WIDR0006 Daily Summaries National Weather Service Central Region terrestrial
Ellison Bay GHCND:US1WIDR0005 Daily Summaries National Weather Service Central Region terrestrial
Washington Island GHCND:USC00478905 Daily Summaries; NOWData products such as climate normals National Weather Service Central Region terrestrial
Northport Pier Station NPDW3 National Weather Service Central Region marine
Sister Bay Yacht Works Station SYWW3 National Weather Service Central Region marine
Sturgeon Bay, Coast Guard Station Station 0Y2W3 National Weather Service Central Region marine
Chambers Island Station CBRW3 National Weather Service Central Region marine
South Green Bay Buoy (in county waters) Station 45014 - GB17 University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee[43] marine
Nasewaupee Nasewaupee / S. Door County station Michigan State University terrestrial
Town of Sturgeon Bay Sturgeon Bay / Southern Door station Michigan State University terrestrial
Sevastapol Sturgeon Bay station Michigan State University terrestrial
Jacksonport West Jacksonport station Michigan State University terrestrial
Egg Harbor Egg Harbor station Michigan State University terrestrial
Liberty Grove Sister Bay / Liberty Grove station Michigan State University terrestrial
Brussels Brussels, Chaudoir's Dock County Park Door County Parks Department webcam
Gills Rock Gills Rock private webcam
Ephraim Pine Grove Resort, Ephraim private webcam
Ephraim, dock Ephraim Yacht Club private webcam
Fish Creek Fish Creek Harbor private webcam
Cana Island Cana Island Door County Parks Department webcam
Egg Harbor Egg Harbor Lodge private webcam
Sturgeon Bay Marina Sturgeon Bay Marina private webcam
Bay View Bridge Bay View Bridge private webcam
Sturgeon Bay Bridge Sturgeon Bay Bridge private webcam
Northport and Washington Island Northport and Washington Island webcam private webcam

See also

Climate of nearby locations

To the south

To the southwest

To the west

To the north

To the northeast

To the east

To the southeast

Broader areas

References

  1. ^ Flood Insurance Study: Door County, Wisconsin Unincorporated Areas, U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development Federal Insurance Administration, June 1977, page 4
  2. ^ Sturgeon Bay and Lake Michigan Ship Canal, Maintenance Dredging and Spoil Disposal: Environmental Impact Statement by Col. James Miller, U.S. Army Engineer District, Chicago, 1974, page 11
  3. ^ "National Weather Service Climate". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 2013-05-04.
  4. ^ "WMO Climate Normals for Sturgeon Bay Exp Farm". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved November 18, 2017.
  5. ^ "NowData - NOAA Online Weather Data". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved June 14, 2021.
  6. ^ "Station: Washington IS, WI". U.S. Climate Normals 2020: U.S. Monthly Climate Normals (1991-2020). National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved June 14, 2021.
  7. ^ The Land and Sea Breeze of Door Peninsula, Wisconsin by Eric R. Miller, Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 20(5), 1939, pp. 209–211
  8. ^ The climatology and prediction of the Chicago lake breeze by W. A. Lyons, Journal of Applied Meteorology 11, December 1972, p. 1262 (p. 4 of the pdf)
  9. ^ Some Uses of High-Resolution GOES Imagery in the Mesoscale Forecasting of Convection and Its Behavior by James F. W. Purdom, Monthly Weather Review 104 December 1976, p. 1476 (p. 3 of the pdf)
  10. ^ a b c d e f Climate Data Online Search, accessed August 5, 2021
  11. ^ Ten Hour Electric Storm, Door County Democrat, Volume 18, Number 35, August 26, 1910, page 1
  12. ^ Torrid Spell is Ended Tuesday, Door County News, Volume 23, Number 4, July 16, 1936, page 1
  13. ^ Canning Operations are Curtailed by Failure of Cherry Crop, Door County News, Volume 23, Number 4, July 16, 1936, page 1
  14. ^ Climatic Conditions Preceding Historically Great Fires in the North Central Region by Donald A. Haines and Rodney W. Sando, Research Paper NC-34, United States Forest Service, United States Department of Agriculture, 1969, page 5, (page 7 of the pdf)
  15. ^ "Fire on Chambers Island Fought for Seven Hours" and "Door County included in 'Disaster' List", Door County Advocate, Volume 102, Number 32, July 11, 1963, page 1
  16. ^ Temperature is Lowest in Years, Door County News, Volume 29, Number 34, February 16, 1933, page 1
  17. ^ Rain Causes Trouble Here by Sue Schlise, Door County Advocate, Volume 99, Number 15, May 10, 1960, page 1
  18. ^ Wet as it is, it was worse in 1960 by Jim Robertson, Door County Advocate, Volume 117, Number 15, May 10, 1979, page 6, section 1
  19. ^ Flood Insurance Study: Door County, Wisconsin Unincorporated Areas, U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development Federal Insurance Administration, June 1977, pages 5 and 10
  20. ^ Wisconsin 1-Day Snowfall Extremes, NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, October 22, 2018
  21. ^ Storm forces hundreds of students to stay in schools, Door County Advocate, Volume 109, Number 97, February 23, 1971, page 1
  22. ^ Ice stringers, Lake Michigan, Earth Observatory, Image of the Day for March 10, 2014
  23. ^ Wind and Hail Storm, Door County Democrat, Volume 20, Number 32, August 2, 1912, page 1
  24. ^ Violent hailstorm rakes northern Door area, Door County Advocate, Volume 116, Number 29, June 27, 1978, page 1
  25. ^ Door County Severe Weather Facts (1950-2020), National Weather Service Forecast Office Green Bay, WI, section: Large Hail in Door County, February 1, 2021
  26. ^ Services Held for Lightning Bolt Victims, Door County Advocate, Volume 94, Number 23, June 7, 1955, page 1
  27. ^ A Tornado Climatology for Wisconsin by Pamela Naber Knox and Douglas Norgord, Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey Bulletin 100, 2000, p. 9 (p. 17 of the pdf) and p. 13 (p. 21 of the pdf); references to additional tornadoes are in the table
  28. ^ Development of the Door County Supercell on 23 August 1998 by James R. Jelinek, Department of Atmospheric and Ocean Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, May 2006
  29. ^ a b Door County Tornado Guide, weather.gov
  30. ^ Door County Hazard Mitigation Plan – Chapter 2: Risk Assessment by the Door County Planning Department, June 28, 2016, p. 16 and NOAA Storm Events Database results for tornadoes in Door County
  31. ^ Violent 'Twister' Ravages Door County, Door County Advocate, Volume 95, Number 31, July 3, 1956, page 1 and Wautlets snapped back from tornado at 1956 by Josie Wautlet, Door County Advocate, Volume 112 , Number 1, March 22, 1973, page 6
  32. ^ Golden Wedding, 'Twister' and Oriental Party in the News, Door County Advocate, Volume 98, Issue 44, August 20, 1959, page 7
  33. ^ a b Twister Hits Near Sturgeon Bay, Door County Advocate, Volume 99, Issue 40, August 4, 1960, pages 1–2
  34. ^ Violent windstorm rips Northern part of county, Door County Advocate, Volume 105, Number 37, July 26, 1966, page 1
  35. ^ Wind Storm Lashes Area, Door County Advocate, Volume 109, Number 10, April 23, 1970, page 1
  36. ^ County cleaning up from another storm, Door County Advocate, Volume 110, Number 42, August 12, 1971, page 1
  37. ^ Morning Storm Hits Jacksonport Area, Door County Advocate, Volume 112, Number 34, July 12, 1973, page 1
  38. ^ Morning Storm Hits Jacksonport Area, Door County Advocate, Volume 112, Number 34, July 12, 1973, page 1
  39. ^ A localized 'twister', Door County Advocate, Volume 114, Number 40, September 4, 1975, page 1
  40. ^ 'Twister' strikes Nasewaupee farm, Door County Advocate, Volume 115, Number 39, August 3, 1976, page 1
  41. ^ Stations in Northeast and North-Central Wisconsin, NOAA Weather Radio-All Hazards by the Green Bay, WI Weather Forecast Office.
  42. ^ Great Lakes Ice Cover, glerl.noaa.gov
  43. ^ Green Bay Buoy, Great Lakes Observing System, UW-Milwaukee