10 days from May and look at the ice on Lake Superior

April 21st, 2014 at 12:20 am by under Bill's Blog, Weather

lake superior ice 4 20 14  Ice Lake Superior 4 19 14 Click on the images (from the Marquette NWS facebook page) to enlarge.  Look at the ice on Lake Superior, 10 days from May – here’s the MQT NWS estimate of last ice:  “the amount of ice is nearing records for the latest widespread ice cover this late into spring over the northern portions of the lake… mid-May is a good estimate for much of the lake. However, some of the shoreline locations where the ice typically holds on longest could push into late-May.”  The picture on the right is Coast Guard Cutter Alder assisting the Mesabi Miner out of Marquette Saturday (April 19th).  Snow depth Sunday evening:  Marquette 13″, Mohawk 28″.

Smallest Slight Risk Ever from SPC

April 20th, 2014 at 11:34 pm by under Bill's Blog, Weather

Risk Area  Thought you’d like to see the smallest Slight Risk Area that I’ve ever seen SPC issue.  Click on the image to enlarge if you can’t see it.  This is for Sunday Night.  Guess it kind of narrow’s down the area to go storm-chasing.  The storm that prompted this “gigantic” Slight Risk Area has produced hail up to baseball-size and one relatively small rope tornado.  Here’s Storm Reports from SundayAt 154 days on April 20, 2014, the span between EF-3 or stronger tornadoes is the 4th longest span between in the last 60 years.  So far, we’ve had 109 reported tornadoes (this number will go down as duplicates are eliminated) in the U.S. in 2014, a record low number for Jan. 1 – Apr. 20.  Check out this graphic comparison of instability – a major ingredient for severe weather – for this year compared to average, the weak year of 1981 and the active year of 2008.  I’ve mentioned before that it’s been cold this spring (and last spring thru 4/20).   Thanks to Greg Carbin (SPC) for the comparison.  Tallahassee, Florida has had 18.86″ of rain since 3/1.  California wishes they would share.

The weather looks excellent for the Boston Marathon, partly to mostly sunny – high mid 60s.   April 26 – May 1 looks relatively chilly in Michigan and from the Northern Plains to New England. The European model sayin’ the same thing.   I’ve said before on the blog that you should hold off planting anything frost sensitive until further notice.  Anything that’s really frost tolerant can go in now…but don’t rush the growing season (which will probably be on the short side of average this summer).

The Flood Warning for the Muskegon River at Croton may be downgraded to an Advisory later today.  The river was right at Flood Stage Sunday night, but was falling very slowly.  There are still River Advisories for parts of the Maple, Chippewa, Muskegon and Pere Marquette Rivers.

From Oak Ridge – Day 4

April 20th, 2014 at 10:50 pm by under Bill's Blog, Weather

frozen head waterfall   Easter Sunday night.  Everyone one else has turned in and once again I’ve come to the Krystal (fast food restaurant) to log onto the internet.  Right now, I’m the only one here (except the 3 employees).  Oak Ridge is a friendly town.  When I first showed up tonight, I got a table and sat down.  I sneezed and the people at each of the tables next to me said “God bless you.”   I’ve been here at the Krystal 4 nights now…the staff here is very friendly.  You order at a counter and they bring your food.  I left a buck last night and today the same guy thanked me a couple times.  They must not get many tips.  He actually deserved more than that.  He asked me a couple times if I wanted a refill on my Diet Coke (unlimited refills on drinks – including a fill-up when you leave…so get the small size and keep getting refills – no need to get a bigger size).  Once AGAIN, I’m not in the place 15 minutes and up comes “Wrecking Ball” on the music that plays nonstop here.  Fourth night in a row.  Oak Ridge is full of scientists and the non-scientists seem to listen to country music mostly.  I don’t think “Wrecking Ball” would be at the top of the Oak Ridge request line.

So, Easter Sunday!   What a great day we had!  The weather was perfect, mostly sunny – cool, about 40 in the early AM and low-mid 70s in the mid-late afternoon. We got up and like we have done for so many decades…we had juice/coffee and mom’s wonderful homemade German coffee cake.  I can’t remember an Easter without it.  Then off to church, which was about 95% full.  Lots of music – good message – I noted that the mothers had made an effort to make sure their kids were looking nice.  Then back home for the traditional mom’s brunch/lunch of eggs, ham, peas and carrots, rolls, both scalloped and sweet potatoes…and some Easter chocolate.

After lunch, we did the dishes, cleaned up and then got in the SUV and drove about 45 minutes to Frozen Head State Park.  The park is known for the Barkley Marathons, an unusual ultramarathon event that has been held every year in the park since 1984. Competitors run a 100-mile (160 km) rugged course and a 60-mile “fun run” (which is harder than  Hardrock) over 60 hours, in 20-mile (32 km) segments that each must be completed in 12 hours or less.   The course is unmarked and goes over very rugged and brushy terrain.  Entrants must complete an essay on “Why I Should be Allowed to Run in the Barkley”.  The race starts at different times each year and (this is Tennessee) starts with the lightning of a cigarette.  As of 2014, only fourteen competitors have ever finished the race!!  In 2006 nobody finished even the 60-mile ‘fun run’ in under 40 hours. The best women’s achievement is Sue Johnston’s 66 miles (106 km) in 2001.  With 54,200 feet (16,500 m) of accumulated vertical climb, the 100-mile run is considered to be one of the more challenging ultramarathons held in the world.  In addition to running, competitors must find between nine to eleven books, the number varies per year, and remove the page corresponding to the runner’s race number from each book as proof of completion.  More than 30 competitors failed to reach first book (two miles) that year (the race is run in late March or early April and the trail can be muddy, even icy.  I’m going to nominate  Julie (daughter one), Merrick and Laura V. for the race next year.  I’ll even give them a flashlight.

It’s a big park (24,000 acres) and we went hiking.  My mother made it about 1/2 mile up the trail to see DeBord Falls (see pic.) (I figure it was named after Terri DeBoer and they just misspelled it).  A few people actually got into the cold water and splashed around at the falls.   My brother-in-law and I hiked another half-a-mile up to Emory Falls (higher, but less water). All total, I probably hiked about 4.5 miles.  The wind was calm…there were LOTS of wildflowers in many different colors and quite a few yellow (Swallowtail?) butterflies…one of them came up right in front of me.  We stayed until about 7 PM, then went home for dinner and board games.   We played something like “take a pickle” (forgot the official name).  We were allowing everything if you’re familiar with the game and laughed hysterically at some of the stretching to make a card fit.  Then a game of Dogopoly, which we didn’t have time to finish (my sister is really into dogs, cats…rescuing dogs and cats and helping the local Humane Society).   I somehow managed to get around the board nearly twice without being able to buy a property.  By the time I got my first property, each of the other players had at least four properties.   Eventually, everyone turned in.  We start for home tomorrow PM…back to work on Weds.   Great trip so far…no rain (though I don’t mind rainy days) and at least partly sunny each day.


Happy Easter Weekend

April 19th, 2014 at 2:15 am by under Bill's Blog, Weather

lake michigan ice holland gary brink 4 11 14Lake Michigan ice Grand Haven 4 18 14 Julie Ackerman Link The first picture is from Gary Brink and it was taken one week ago on 4 11 – lots of ice at Holland.  The second picture from Julie Ackerman Link shows the ice at Grand Haven (I believe this was Friday).  Click on the pictures to enlarge.  That’s a lot of ice for mid-April.  Looks like a pretty good weekend – up to 70° on Sunday.  April 1-18 average 0.9° cooler than average in G.R.  Not a lot of severe weather in the U.S. with just 8 wind reports on Friday.  The models are hinting at some severe weather toward the middle-end of next week, but more likely in the Plains than here.   Here’s Easter extremes for G.R., MKG, and LAN.  Most rivers are slowly receeding.  Here’s current levels.  The Muskegon River is falling at Evart and at the Croton Dam.   Here’s a clear close-up MODIS satellite picture (from NOAA Coastwatch) of the ice on Lake SuperiorSome rain and a little freezing rain today in the U.P.   They’ve had some significant snow in the U.P. this month:  “For the period 1-17 April, 2014 is tied for #4  w/29.0″ of snowfall at MQT. 1st place goes to 2007 w/55.2″ – from MQT NWS.   In Negaunee Township, the greatest snowfall to occur after April 17th is 22.4 inches recorded on May 9-10, 1990.  The record that has been held since 1970 for the most consecutive days below 60° at Gaylord has been broken. In 1970 there was a stretch of 186 days that ended on April 14th that never reached 60°.  Today, April 18th, 2014 will be 187 days and still counting!    The latest monthly outlook from the Climate Prediction Center for May gives Michigan higher probabilities for a cool month.  Some heavy rain (+5″) in parts of S. AL, NW FL7.2 Magnitude e-quake in Mexico and a 6.9 magnitude earthquake was reported 62km (38 miles) SW of Panguna, Papua New Guinea.    Nice sunset in NYC.   CFS model predicts cool weather for the Great Lakes for the end of April with a decent chance of a (hopefully) light freeze – fortunately, vegetation no where near as far along as back in 2012.

Hail Storm in Texashail on I-10 in Texasbright fireball lights up the sky in Murmansk, Russia.


Top Ten Ways to Tell Bill Steffen is a Bad Golfer

April 18th, 2014 at 10:44 pm by under Bill's Blog, Sports, Weather

easter bunny running   I’m playing golf Saturday here in Oak Ridge.  I played once last year and twice the year before that.  It’s not a pretty sight.  Here’s the top ten ways to tell that Bill Steffen is a bad golfer:   10)  Bill’s so bad off the tee that the course makes him take along a “designated driver”.  9)  Bill’s favorite club is his ball retriever   8)  Bill’s had to regrip his ball retriever six times.  7)  Bill’s divots are so big that the course makes him take along a fork-lift truck and four carpet layers   6)   Bill gets excited when he gets a hole-in-six   5)  Bill’s handicap is higher than the number of losses the Detroit Pistons have had this year.  5)  The only person on Earth with a better left hook than Bill Steffen is Floyd Mayweather.   4)  Bill uses green golf balls, because they show up better in the sand traps.  3)  When Bill plays, the course hands out hard hats and flak jackets   2)  Bill’s divots are bigger than the potholes on Burton Street…and the #1 way to tell Bill Steffen is a bad golfer…the Easter Bunny flees in total panic when he hears that Bill is playing golf!

UPDATE:  Survived golf – no people or animals were injured.  A had a very honest 109.  I did par one par 3.  I lost 3 balls, but found 4…so I was +1 for the day.  Fish, broccoli, potato salad and homemade oatmeal-raisin cookies for dinner.  Tomorrow, we all go to church, then home for the Easter Sunday ham brunch (which my almost 95-year old mother insists on doing mostly on her own), then out to Frozen Head State Park to enjoy what should be an awesome day.  You should have near perfect weather in Michigan for Easter Sunday as well – enjoy.

Casting call: “Batman vs. Superman” in Troy, MI

April 18th, 2014 at 7:01 pm by under Entertainment
Official Logo for Batman vs Superman movie courtesy Warner Bros.

Official Logo for Batman vs Superman movie courtesy Warner Bros.

Do you want to be in Michigan’s biggest budget movie project yet?

The call has gone out to adults interested in joining the cast of the “Man of Steel” (2013) sequel, referred to as “Batman vs. Superman” that will begin filming this summer in the Detroit area through November.

Producers are looking for men and women, 18 years and older that are “clean cut military and law enforcement types and business executives in suits” and they stress, in all caps “NO COSTUMES PLEASE!”  They say you need to be able to work in the Detroit area both indoors and outside during weekdays “anytime between June-November 2014″.  Time and location details are below.

The movie was approved in August 2013 for $35 million in incentives as its expected to spend $131 million in Michigan and hire 406 area workers.  ”Batman vs. Superman” is scheduled to be released May 6, 2016.  In addition to being a sequel to “Man of Steel” that rebooted the Superman story, this movie is part of Warner Bros. plan to setup a Justice League team-up of DC Comics characters, much like Disney did with Marvel Comics characters in “The Avengers” (2012).  ”Batman vs. Superman” stars Henry Cavill (Clark Kent / Superman), Ben Affleck (Bruce Wayne / Batman), Amy Adams (Lois Lane), Gal Gadot (Diana Prince / Wonder Woman), Diane Lane (Martha Kent), Jesse Eisenberg (Lex Luthor), Jeremy Irons (Alfred), Laurence Fishburne (Perry White), and Holly Hunter.

The Michigan Film Office posted this, so consider it official:


This specific casting call is for clean cut military and law enforcement types and business executives in suits over 18 yrs., male and female.


MUST be available to work in Detroit area locations, week days, either inside or outside, anytime between June-November 2014.

Photos will be taken at no charge, please bring a pen for application & absolutely, NO KIDS at casting call. If you’d like to submit kids ages 9-15, please bring small current school type picture.

Sunday, April 27, 2014
11:00 am -3:00 pm
(Last person MUST be in line by 3 pm before line cuts off!)
Please no early line ups & NO PHONE CALLS!!

Somerset Inn/North Entrance
2601 W. Big Beaver Road, Troy, MI 48084

Park in lot along Big Beaver Rd., enter North side
Please do not disturb this business and NO PHONE CALLS!!

Previous post: Read the rest of this entry »

Review: “Rio 2″ is fun for the family

April 18th, 2014 at 7:42 am by under Entertainment
"Rio 2" poster courtesy Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

“Rio 2″ poster courtesy Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

“Rio 2” (2014)
Rated: G
Runtime: 1 hour, 41 minutes
Genre: Animation/Adventure/Comedy/Family

My spoiler-free review:

Right on par with the first “Rio”, we get more of the birds and other animals and less of the people… and interesting storyline with enough to keep both kids and adults entertained.  It is a little long for its target audience, but its cute and fun for the whole family… I give it 7.0 out of 10… a movie about families for families.

Now that they’re a family with an extended family of other birds and animal friends plus their human protectors, Blu and Jewel are living comfortably in the sanctuary as the only known blue spix macaws remaining.  The endangered status makes them naturally protective of their kids, but Jewel (Anne Hathaway) seems more concerned than Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) that the kids are growing up too much like humans with modern conveniences and plush accommodations… she wants to get outside in the jungle and get away from technology.  Their three little fledglings (Carla, Bia, Tiago) all have unique personalities reflective of their parents, with the oldest of the three acting like a teenager.  Everything seems to be okay until they learn they may not actually be the only survivors of their species… and they once again run into the vengeful cockatoo Nigel (Jemaine Clement) and his new associates including Gabi the tree frog (Kristin Chenoweth).

What follows is a story that could be simplified as just a heartwarming family adventure with a message about the dangers of deforestation in the Amazon.

But its more than that, there’s lots of colorful images and memorable characters and many fun songs for the kids plus some laughs and a storyline interesting enough for adults.

The movie is well crafted it looks great and its well conceived with solid writing, the voice cast is great, its a little darker in tone than the first, but its understandably predictable and the musical numbers are fairly forgettable after a few hours.

MORE INFO (possible spoilers): Read the rest of this entry »

Record Ice on the Great Lakes

April 18th, 2014 at 1:06 am by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

Lake Michigan Holland Ice Pier 4 12 14 Gary Brinks   Great Lakes Ice 4 16 14  Click on the images to enlarge.  The first picture was taken last weekend by Gary Brink at Holland, Michigan (you may remember the picture of the “tsunami cloud” that Gary took 2 years ago).  This is a very interesting pictures and something we’ve never seen before.   The sun is setting well north of due west as we are well past the Spring Equinox.  There has never been anywhere near this much ice on the Holland beach in mid-April.    The graph on the right shows the percent of the Great Lakes still covered with ice.  It’s more than double the highest percent recorded in mid-April during the satellite era.  The mid-week analysis by NOAA/Coastwatch showed a Great Lakes ice cover of 37.1%.   The 4/18 ice percentage shows 20.1% ice cover on Lake MichiganLake Superior still shows a 67.9% ice cover, Lake Huron is at 33.6%, Lake Erie (the southernmost Great Lake) is at 16.0% ice cover and Lake Ontario is has a 2.5% ice cover.

The latest Great Lakes water levels from the Army Corps of Engineers shows the following increases in Great Lakes water levels over the past month:  Lake Superior 2″, Lake Michigan 7″, Lake Huron 7″, Lake Erie 11″ and Lake Ontario 14″.   The year-to-year change in water levels of the Great Lakes:  Superior +13″, Lake Michigan +13″, Lake Huron +13″, Lake Erie +9″, Lake Ontario +5″.

The mid-week snowstorm brought heavy snow to much of Upper Michigan, with totals of 19″ at Laurium and Allouez, 18″ at S. Range, 17″ at Ontonagon and 15″ at Caspian and Mohawk.  Snow depths Thursday in the U.P.:  46″ Herman and Hoist Basin, 40″ Grand Marais and Mohawk, 31″ at Houghton, 28″ at Marquette (airport) and 12″ at S. Ste. Marie.  Ashland, Wisconsin reported 15″ of new snow and Rock Creek, Minnesota had 17″.

On Wednesday & Thursday in Vostok, Antarctica, the high was minus-97 F (minus-72 C).  Coldest Twins game ever.  No severe weather reports in the U.S. Wednesday or Thursday.  There have been more tornadoes in California this year (so far) than Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas COMBINED!

Day 2 in Oak Ridge

April 18th, 2014 at 12:12 am by under Bill's Blog, Weather

rowing oakridge   Once again…everyone else turned in for the night…I’m back at the Krystal, online and drinking a diet something.  They pump music (fairly loud) into the Krystal…satellite probably…no commercials..both nights now within a matter of minutes, I hear “Wrecking Ball”.  Just one other guy here eating a burger.  There was another guy eating a burger here that left about 10 minutes ago.  Out of all the tables here at the Krystal…this new guy sat at the same table that the other guy sat at.  I’ve seen a couple cars pull up to the drive through.  The young people who work here are incredibly nice.   Click on the picture to enlarge.  Lake Melton is on the east side of Oak Ridge.  It’s one of the top places in the U.S. for rowing.  Lake Melton is the dammed up Clinch River and there is a stretch here that is perfect for rowing.  It runs north and south in a straight line for over a mile.  It’s got hills surrounding it blocking the wind, so the water is often calm.  There are races throughout the spring and this Easter Weekend is no exception.  The shore is lined with tents and school signs…Texas A. & M, Miami, Dartmouth…dozens of them.  I’ve seen Grand Valley here.  We spent some time watching the scene today…also went to the local supermarket (the Food Lion – they were GIVING free flowers to people today – the ones that were outdated and they gave my mother 6 beautiful red roses – I thought they were in perfect bloom).  They have apple juice from West Michigan.   My mother cooked noodles and meatballs this evening – I made a nice salad, my wife made the dressing.  We had a small piece of cheesecake for dessert.  We walked about a mile today (my mother likes to walk).  This evening we drove up a hill to view the city.  I have not watched any TV down here.  It was a beautiful day…sunny, a few cirrus clouds – the flowers and in bloom and the leaves are about 3/4 out on many of the trees here.  The dandelions are for the most part done blooming here and there are stems poking up.  My mother has weeded them out of her front lawn.  It was calm much of the day, but in the distance, I could see wind turbines moving on the hill about 10 miles north of the city.  It was in the mid 60s here this afternoon with dew points in the mid-upper 20s, very dry air.  The waning (you can see less of it each night) gibbous (about 3/4-full) moon is shining brightly tonight.  Tomorrow (Fri.) we may have a picnic at one of the local or state parks.

The overnight European model gives G.R. 0.12″ rain next Monday and 0.10″ next Thurs.  Looks like a decent Easter Weekend.

MODIS Satellite Pictures

April 17th, 2014 at 12:13 am by under Bill's Blog, Weather

modis lake michigan  modis lake superior modis lake huron   modis lake ontariomodis lake erie These are the MODIS satellite pictures from Weds. (Lake Superior is from Tuesday – clouds and a snowstorm there on Weds).  Pics. from NOAA Coastwatch.  First, there is STILL some ice west of Ottawa and Allegan Counties!  Note on the Lake Ontario picture the snow on the Tug Plateau east of the lake.  There’s still a fair amount of ice on Lake Superior and some ice left on Erie and Huron.  This is the most ice on the Great Lakes this early in winter.  The NOAA Coastwatch Analysis on 4/15 showed a Great Lakes ice cover of 39%.   Lake Michigan is still at 21%.   Several new threads from Weds. evening below, read on if you have the time…      Also, the eclipse viewed from Canada.   From the Storm Prediction Center – Severe Weather Next Week:  “THE HIGHEST SEVERE POTENTIAL APPEARS TO BE CENTERED AROUND D8/WED OVER THE GREAT PLAINS.”