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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Lake Erie

     Lake Erie was named by the Erie tribe of Native Americans who lived along its southern shore and is the fourth-largest lake (by surface area) of the five Great Lakes in North America and the thirteenth-largest globally, measured in terms of surface area. It is the southernmost, shallowest and smallest by volume of the Great Lakes. Average depth at the western end is 24 feet, 60 feet in the center and 80 feet at the eastern end. At its deepest point it is 210 feet. Lake Erie is the warmest of all of the Great Lakes, but it also freezes over more than the other lakes.  It is known for its unpredictable and sometimes violently dangerous nature.
     The Northern shore is bounded by the Canadian province of Ontario, with the U.S. states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York on its southern and easternmost shores and Michigan on the west. Major cities along the Lake Erie include Buffalo; Erie, Pennsylvania; Toledo, Ohio; Port Stanley, Ontario; Monroe, Michigan; Sandusky, Ohio; and Cleveland, Ohio. 
Lake Erie shoreline
     The majority of Lake Erie’s water flows in through the Detroit River from lakes Superior, Michigan and Huron as well as tributaries such as the St. Clair River and Lake St. Clair. Its main outlet is Niagara Falls. 
     Invasive species like zebra mussels prospered first in the shallow water in the western basin of Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair and outbreak of fish flu began in Maumee Bay in the western basin. Lake Erie was said to have died in the 1970’s highlighted by the Cuyahoga River catching fire in Cleveland, Ohio, but has since made a comeback. 
     The lake has more consumable fish than all the other Great Lakes combined. Its shoreline is a major source of many minerals. The largest sandstone quarry in the world is located in Amherst, Ohio. Salt mines in Cuyahoga and Lake Counties extend out under Lake Erie. Sand, gypsum, and limestone used for construction purposes are found in abundance. Large reserves of natural gas are also located under the lake. 
     It is the only Great Lake that is entirely above sea level (the bottom of the other Great Lakes extend below sea level).
     Lake Erie provides drinking water to over 11 million people. At the same time it is estimated that over eight billion gallons of sewage were dumped into the lake, the equivalent of 2 billion toilet flushes. In 2004 the monitored beaches along the shoreline failed to meet criteria for recreation on 16% of the assessed days and health advisories or warnings were issued for 271 days in 2004. In 2004 sewer systems attempted to treat rainwater and sewage but during moderate to heavy rainfall the combined systems take in more wastewater than the treatment plants can handle. When this happens sewage either gets backed up or is diverted directly into a local waterway. 
     Under the surface of Lake Erie lies a rich history of mystery and maritime tales found in its shipwrecks.   Storms on the Great Lakes      Lake Erie Shipwrecks    An Abnormal Wave in Lake Erie in 1895 (see pages 653-660)
Waterspout on Lake Erie
    One impressive phenomenon seen on the lake is the waterspout.  Although they're beautiful to witness, they can be dangerous to those on the water. There are two kinds: fair weather waterspouts and tornadic waterspouts. 
     Tornadic waterspouts form over water or they move from land to water and they are dangerous because they share the same characteristics as land tornadoes because they are associated with severe thunderstorms. 
     Fair weather waterspouts form along the dark, flat bases of cumulus clouds and are not associated with thunderstorms at all. They typically form under light winds, so they don't move much. These types of waterspouts fall apart pretty quickly when they make contact with land and they rarely go far inland. 
     Cold air funnels develop under similar conditions and come to life in the wake of cold fronts where atmospheric instability and moisture is sufficient to produce towering cumulus clouds but minimal precipitation. Like fair weather waterspouts, they are not typically associated with thunderstorms and they form on the bottom of clouds. There have been reports of cold air funnels touching down and causing damage, but they're usually harmless. Tornado Warnings are very rarely issued for these.

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