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West End News Feb. 10

Snow depths varied widely in the West End after the most recent storm.
Snow depths varied widely in the West End after the most recent storm.

Finalcut_WestEnd_20100211.mp36.09 MB

Once again we have a dramatic example of the many micro-climates in Cook County and specifically the West End. Snow depths from the weekend snowfall ranged from three inches to about a foot in some locations. Driving and visibility ranged from clear as a bell to zero visibility with borderline dangerous driving.

Lake Superior, combined with the rapid increase in elevation away from the shore, causes the complexity. Along the Sawbill Trail, for example, there is a zone from the lake to the top of the hill, then another from there to the Six Hundred road with a decrease in snow depth; then a stretch of several miles with an increase in snow, and finally in the higher elevations another decrease in depth.

Sometimes the National Weather Service calls during a storm to get a report on current conditions. Sawbill Outfitters is a volunteer weather observer. During the weekend the weather service in Duluth called. They were totally confused about the location. They said that the Google map showed the location to be on the shore, on the highway. Bill said "No.” Then they found Sawbill Landing on Google. This was the location of a small logging community and a log loading landing at one time. There has been nothing at that location for close to 50 years.

At this point Bill launched into an explanation of the history and geography of the area. This happens almost every time the weather bureau calls. Some years ago I sent the Duluth office of the weather bureau a copy of the large Superior National Forest map. Obviously that did not help.

The record snow on the east coast brought back a childhood memory. I grew up in Baltimore. We did not have many clear-cut snowfalls. Late in February one year we did have a snow just like the one that hit Baltimore and Washington last weekend. The deep snow was bad enough; but the temperature rose into the 60s right after the snow. Fast melting took place. The snow came off of roofs in mini-avalanches. The sliding snow ripped the rain gutters from our house in minutes. The aftereffects of that snow were worse than the snow itself.

Congratulations to the high school Alpine skiers, and special congrats to our West End snow bunnies, Molly Rider and Signe Larson, who go to the state meet as individual contestants. Both girls started skiing at about the time that they started to walk. Both girls have been running and skiing ever since. Family homes within walking distance of the ski hill must help. Perhaps Signe and Molly will follow in the ski tracks of Lutsen's legendary Olympic and World Cup skier, Cindy Nelson. I am sure that WTIP will broadcast the results of the state ski meet as soon as they are known. Our best wishes for good luck to the whole team.