Dear Tom,
As a teen growing up in the 1960s on the North Side, we lived in apartments. My father always wanted An east-facing, third-floor apartment to get the lake breeze as we had no air conditioning. How far inland could you feel the lake effect?
—Mark N.
Dear Mark,
Lake Michigan, Chicago’s natural air conditioner, is a godsend to those living near the lake. The inland penetration of lake cooling is highly variable. It is most pronounced in spring and early summer when its arrival can drop the temperature 20 to 30 degrees in just minutes. In light wind conditions, when the cooling mechanism is a true lake breeze, the cooling zone may be restricted to just a few blocks from the shore. In contrast, when the prevailing wind flow is northeast or east, the cooling can be felt 50 miles or more from the lake, depending upon the strength of the wind.