Whew, Buoy! How to Get Great Lakes Weather Info

When you plan a kayak trip to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore with Paddling Michigan, weather may be on your mind. The weather along the Lake Superior shoreline can be beautiful, but it can change quickly, and you will want to be prepared.


Luckily, the Great Lakes Observing System (GLOS) has an interesting, but little known, way to get up-to-date weather on all five of The Great Lakes.

Great Lakes Buoy Observing System


Through a few private/public partnerships, The Great Lakes have been stocked with buoys rigged with electronic devices and cameras that measure Great Lakes weather data in real time. And the information is available to everyone.


By logging on your computer at https://glbuoys.glos.us, you can see where all 66 buoys on The Great Lakes are located. Choose the buoy near where you are headed to get info on wind speed, water temperature, and wave height.


But, what if you are not near a computer and want current condition information? Well, the Great Lakes Observing System has you covered!


Send a Text to A Buoy


All you have to do is text the buoy number to 734-418-7299 or 734-201-0750 and you’ll receive a text back with lake and wind conditions. The text will also tell you when the measurements were made, so you will know how accurate it is.


This August, a buoy in the eastern part of Lake Superior, north of Pictured Rocks, measured a record wind gust of 60.2 knots. However, it should be noted, these buoys are only out on Lake Superior during the “warm, ice-free season,” so there is still much to be learned about the winter weather on the largest of The Great Lakes.


Collecting and Using the Data


Comparable buoy systems exist in colder climates than The Great Lakes and are equipped with cable systems that pull the buoys underneath the ice during the harshest of conditions, and are able to continue collecting wave and water information. Perhaps in the future, our Great Lakes system will be hooked up in a similar manner. Then we’ll be able to know how frigid Lake Superior is, come January.


In the meantime, The Great Lakes Observing System will continue coordinating the data collection from the buoys. Boaters rely on the information for safe travel, and cities and townships along the shoreline, and private businesses, use the figures to keep their populations and economies healthy.


Keep In Touch


Once you have visited Pictured Rocks, you’ll have a better appreciation for the vastness of Lake Superior and you may want to gather info occasionally from Buoy 45173 (Munising’s closest buoy), to keep tabs on the weather, long after your Padding Michigan vacation ends.


Posted in