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(((Will)))

Let's talk about the Algoma District of Ontario.

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Yeah, I know it's not technically within the jurisdiction of this forum - but this is the closest forum for it.

 

For those that don't know, the Algoma District is a region in north western Ontario, roughly bordering the eastern side of Lake Superior. Here is a map:

AlgomaRegion.JPG.9f29769abdbe7e050e8eacac74d0aa2d.JPG

 

For some reason, like because of it's isolated nature - though that's a flimsy excuse, this is the most underrated and unknown wintry oriented microclimate in North America, let alone the Great Lakes.

 

Why? Other than the fact that this is obviously an area positioned for prime Lake Effect Snow - there are a couple other things that truly elevate the climate of this area into epic territory, far surpassing almost all of what I consider to be the most interesting weather locations east of the plains:

  • The UP
  • The Tug Hill
  • The Kingdom, VT - Pittsburg, NH
  • Cape Breton
  • The Gaspe

Maybe even the insanity that is winter on the coast of Labrador and the Great Northern Peninsula (ie, St Anthony)

My reasoning for thinking this is that not only does this area rival or pass, regularly the snow jackpots you get from the Hurons to Toivola, Calumet/Laurium and the tip of the Keweenaw - but the snow is accompanied by a much harsher and unrelenting continental climate which preserves the snow much better.

Part of the problem here is that there are not many towns and the towns that there are have spotty and very inconsistent climate data. For instance - Montreal Falls with an elevation of ~1000 feet (lake is around 600) reports a climate colder than the majority of the UP and an amount of pure precip over 50 inches per year - for reference, I average 38-39 inches per year here on the spine of the Keweenaw at 1,200 feet. The thing is - these places in Algoma District claim only 150ish inches of snow a year. Obviously this is attributable to sloppy statistics, differences in measuring, etc. But the point is - these areas obviously regularly reach totals at the very least comparable with the best regions of the Keweenaw. Beyond that - at just outside of Montreal Falls is 'hills' that reach far in excess of 1,600' elevation.

 

mont.thumb.jpg.8e70c6bc1fbfa626361dd3d82f39718b.jpg

 

Elevation is a huge deal in this area. For instance, the other day Houghton and John Dee (he lives in a slight valley between Calumet and the Phoenix area of the Keweenaw at around 800 feet elevation) received roughly 2-4 inches of snow from a random event. However, where I live at 1,200' elevation we received in excess of 8 inches. It's astonishing. I never saw this sort of disparity in minor changes in elevation when I lived in Maine, etc. There was one time when Fort Kent got about 6 inches of snow when just up Charette Hill - roughly 700' gain in elevation - they got 15+ inches. This was over the distance of about a half mile. But even in this situation the difference was more attributable to borderline temperature at low elevation.

Another example - just the other day we got most likely in excess of 11-12 inches of snow when just a mile down the road and maybe 200 feet lowers they barely got 7-8 inches. And again, on the extreme side, in 2017 there was a storm forecasted to dump 2-4 inches over night. However, the band set up and it poured, giving Calumet and Laurium 37 inches of new snow in the span of 7 hours. Just north, south, east and west however got roughly 12-18 inches only. This was with just several hundred feet of elevation difference. As I leave school every day in Hancock and drive back home - the temperature is invariably 5 degrees colder during the day than areas at lower elevation.

My point is - the Algoma District seems incredible. It gets insane precip, it gets insane cold (multiple places are colder each year than ANY location in Minnesota, dropping well below -60 with seeming regularity, etc.

 

I guess I just want to raise the profile of this hidden and unknown area. It deserves FAR more recognition within the weather weenie community, as well as the winter sports community. It's a very rural, poor and underserved area and consists of many first nation indigenous peoples - who would likely benefit from being known more widely for the appeal and draw of the area in which they live, something which would significantly help their economy.

 

Full disclosure - I've never been to this place. I want to go desperately, however. I've been bringing this area up for several years and researching it in any way I can find - from statistics, maps to anecdotes. Thus far I think Jonger is the only one who knows about this place and he raves about it. This is a massive area with consistent, deep, snow. The Keweenaw and the Hurons may rival it at times - but go just a few miles south and you're back on brown grass in the worst winters. 30-40 miles from me in Baraga they have roughly 2-3 inches of snowcover compared to my ~30ish snowcover. This doesn't happen in the Algoma - which has an area larger than the entirety of the UP and consists rolling and steep hills, valleys, lakes, wilderness and sharp elevation changes that consistently carry deep snow over a vast area.

 

I really wish we had more data on this area.

 

 

42397352_302533640477142_7459919339243182506_n.thumb.jpg.109e6790f312295b80be1b893d453fa0.jpg

 

robertsoncliffs_6.thumb.jpg.0f396750e60f76f27f3f72a4d8f6864b.jpg

 

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Algoma is wilderness with the TransCanada highway along the superior shoreline. I dont know much about their weather, but I do know they can get some beastly supercells in the summer and in the winter they often have lake effect snow. There is a ministry of natural resources office in the soo which specializes in weather forecasting i do believe.

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I've driven to Thunder Bay for work a few times so I've been thru these areas. Its very remote with only small towns. Wawa Ontario has a population around 3,000 people and thats where I've spent a night on the way home. 

Haha not to nitpick, but the locals wouldnt consider themselves North Western Ontario. The algoma district is in North Eastern Ontario, a sub region of Northern Ontario. North Eastern Ontario has its roots tied to Quebec and actually has more small towns compared to North Western Ontario. 

I would highly recommend you visit the region, especially since you love winter weather. I'm guessing from the research you've done you have the links to Environment Canada but if not here it is https://weather.gc.ca/city/pages/on-138_metric_e.html that link is for Wawa. 

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Love that part of Lake Superior, went through there in September of '17 on a trip around the lake. Some amazing waterfalls in that area as well.

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It's for sure the biggest snowbelt on Superior.  Think about how kick ass le is in the Keweenaw with a west wind and then imagine 2.5 times more lake and twice or better in elevation!  So much snow goes unreported there, who really knows... Also, I wish Superior as a whole had more radar representation.

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3 minutes ago, weatherbo said:

Also, I wish Superior as a whole had more radar representation.

That alone is so frustrating.

Then again, it does have its good side...ie, I used to obsess more on the radar than on watching the snow when I was in Maine. Now that the radar is utterly meaningless for me - I just let it snow and enjoy it.

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1 minute ago, (((Will))) said:

That alone is so frustrating.

Then again, it does have its good side...ie, I used to obsess more on the radar than on watching the snow when I was in Maine. Now that the radar is utterly meaningless for me - I just let it snow and enjoy it.

The radar sucks here too... not as bad as there, but still a nuisance.

Way too much of a nerd when it comes to radar, tho. I can stare at a radar pic all night.

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I lived in the Muskoka region of Ontario for 2 winters. They are much farther south, yet still got lots of snow and bitter cold. Winter enthusiasts paradise...

Can't imagine how much more severe it is in Algoma, but I am sure it is.

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3 hours ago, weatherbo said:

It's for sure the biggest snowbelt on Superior.  Think about how kick ass le is in the Keweenaw with a west wind and then imagine 2.5 times more lake and twice or better in elevation!  So much snow goes unreported there, who really knows... Also, I wish Superior as a whole had more radar representation.

Yea, Radar Coverage and Lake Effect is a very fickle thing, especially in the UP with very little population, high terrain going to lead to some black holes. If you think its bad here imagine living in the mountains out west not counting big city proper areas. 

I always thought it would have been cool when the grant was going on a few years ago researching LES with the mobile Doppler trucks to have had a couple in the UP and a few over in Ontario off Lake Superior.  Imagine the returns and data they could have collected in severe LES outbreaks I think the LES into the Algoma district would rival and most likely exceed even the Tug area. 

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My cousin that lives in Toronto lost his entire family on that highway between White River and Wawa. Wife pregnant 8 months, 18 month old daughter and mother in law. Moving from Winnipeg to Toronto. Ironically they hit head on a family that was moving from Toronto to Edmonton in July 2006. Devastating is an understatement what he has gone through. 

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I have only been through there once in my life. I went with two friends on a 10 day fishing trip to Nakina, Ontario 40 years ago (I was 21). It was an absolutely gorgeous drive along Superior, broken only by a moment of shear terror when when we crested a hill and found ourselves barreling toward a huge moose sauntering across the road. A very close encounter.

Once we got northwest of Wawa on 17, it was pure wilderness with very little vehicular traffic and the only crossroads being logging roads. The only civilization was White River (pop ~600). The guys I went with had been there several times and didn't take the main route depicted on the map below, but took a "shortcut" on a logging road to do away with the backtracking on the main highway. After what seemed like an eternity of driving on that dirt road, I became terrified that we were lost and would die before being found. I was never so glad to to see a paved road in my life. Also, in 1979, the last 50 miles to Nakina was only a logging road. It appears to be paved now. I remember at that time there were only a couple of logging roads heading a few miles north of town, which were the northernmost roads in that part of Ontario.

Nakina was established in the early 1900's as a railway yard for the National Transcontinental Railway. I remember catching some nice walleye near the railroad trestle. The town only had maybe 300-400 hundred residents, but did have a liquor store to purchase our cases of LaBatts Blue. The place we stayed was several miles out of town on a lake that acted as a base for fly-ins, although we just fished the base camp lake.  There was no electricity as everything ran off of propane at the camp. The fishing was phenomenal.

In those days, it was truly a wilderness adventure as there were no phones or computers and the only electricity was back in town. I can't even imagine trying drive through that part of Ontario in the winter.

 

ontario.gif

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13 hours ago, TugHillMatt said:

I lived in the Muskoka region of Ontario for 2 winters. They are much farther south, yet still got lots of snow and bitter cold. Winter enthusiasts paradise...

Can't imagine how much more severe it is in Algoma, but I am sure it is.

I have family in Muskoka and in the past they have had snow up to the 2nd floor of the house. I dont think they get lake Erie style les events, but they can get endless abouts of 1 foot a day type les  

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