The National Weather Service Forecast Office in Marquette recently started providing weather
forecasts for specific locations (including your town or neighborhood!) as our primary forecast
presentation on our Web site. Previously, the weather forecasts were reflective of expected
weather conditions across an entire county. This latter type of forecast is called a "zone"
forecast. Due to the size of counties, the "zone forecast" is somewhat general as to conditions
expected at various cities and towns in the county.
For example, consider Marquette County, which is a very large county with widely varying
terrain and extensive areas along the shores of Lake Superior. Elevation varies greatly over
relatively small distances, and these elevation differences along with the effects produced by the
lake can result in widely varying weather conditions over distances of as little as 10 miles. As an
example, these differing weather conditions may result in a high temperature forecast "from 62
near the lakeshore to 75 inland" in the zone forecast, whereas the forecast for a specific location,
perhaps Gwinn, would be for a high temperature of 73. Similarly, a zone forecast might indicate
"snowfall of 2 to 4 inches near the lakeshore and 10 to 12 inches in Negaunee and Ishpeming",
whereas the forecast for a specific location, perhaps Marquette, would be for snowfall of 3
You can see the power of forecasting for a specific location. It allows us to be more precise with
our forecast, but more importantly it allows you to get a weather forecast for the exact location
you are interested in! We call this new forecast a "gridpoint forecast", because the forecasts are
for individual gridpoints (a specific location - such as your town or neighborhood!).
What is a gridpoint? Well, a network of uniformly spaced horizontal and perpendicular lines is
set up, covering the area of the U.P. that we issue forecasts for. We call this network a grid. Think of a waffle iron. This will
give you a feel for what a grid looks like.
The gridpoints are located where the lines cross, and are about 3 miles apart.
Now, think of the discussion above
concerning the zone forecast being a general forecast for the entire county, and we're convinced
you'll see the benefits of the gridpoint forecast.
The gridpoint forecast methodology enables us to provide a forecast for the town in which you
live. The nearest gridpoint to your town is used, and the forecast information for that gridpoint is
presented to you as the forecast for your town. We have a "City, St" entry box on our Home
Page - in this entry box you can enter your town (for example, Dollarville, MI), click the
"Go" button, and the forecast for your town will be retrieved and displayed. We have many U.P.
towns in our database. If your town is not in the database, you will receive a "Not Found"
message. Please let us know about that so we can get your town added to the database.
Another possible way to receive a gridpoint forecast for your area is to click on the map at the
location where you want a forecast. This map is on our Home Page. Please keep in mind
that the gridpoints are only about 3 miles apart. Thus, it may be difficult to click on a location on
the map that is close to your town. You might find it easier to use the "City, St" entry box
The specificity made possible by the gridpoint forecast is fantastic, and is a tremendous leap
forward. However, there are still some situations whereby the gridpoint forecast will not provide
you with what you need. Some examples are:
You live in one town, but work in another.
You are a delivery driver or are otherwise out on the road all day.
You live in one town, but are visiting another area for the day.
In each of these cases you might be led to believe that our gridpoint forecasts
are inaccurate on a particular day, when the reality might be that
you received a forecast for your particular location (at home) that
was not representative of where you were all day. A person need only
live in the U.P. for a short time to experience how different the
weather can be over relatively short distances. If you live in Marquette
and work in Negaunee, you are well aware of the differences in snowfall
and temperatures between these two locations.
This is why we are still providing the zone forecast - there are
several types of situations when the gridpoint forecast will not fulfill
your needs. We encourage you to utilize the zone
forecast if you find that you sometimes need it. An alternative
to the zone forecast would be to obtain two or more gridpoint forecasts!
You could obtain the gridpoint forecasts for your home and for your
work location, or you could obtain several gridpoint forecasts along
your route of travel.
If you will be staying in one location, the gridpoint forecast is going to be the most
accurate and specific forecast you can get from us. However, to get a zone forecast for your
county when you need it, click here to go to a map of U.P. counties for which the National
Weather Service Forecast Office in Marquette issues forecasts. The map will provide a link to
the zone forecast for the county selected.