Sunday PM

January 20th, 2013 at 4:12 pm by under Bill's Blog, Weather

   The first image on the left is the black and white visible satellite image from mid-afternoon (from ADDS).  It’s sunny in Wisconsin.  The clouds and snow flurries/showers we have are all generate by lake-effect…cold air coming across relatively warm water.   Check out the current weather map.  The temperature at each weather station on the map is the number in the upper left.  There isn’t as much difference between eastern Wisconsin and West Michigan here in the late afternoon.  The sun has warmed the air a little in Wisconsin during the day, so often the difference is a little less in the late afternoon in a situation like this than in the morning.  The second image is Lake Michigan water temperature from GLERL.  The actual temperatures are probably a few degrees cooler than what is indicated on the map.  Lake Michigan goes through a process of overturning in early winter when the water temperature stays at around 39-40 degrees for a couple weeks and I suspect the water temperature is around 40.  Note where the warmer water is located.  You can see here that Lake Superior (farthest north) and Lake Erie (shallowest Great Lake) are the coldest lakes, and Lake Michigan and Lake Ontario are the warmest.    When you try and forecast lake-effect snow, you have to look at many factors, including the water temperatures, the fetch – or how great the distance that the air will be coming over the water and the residence time (the time the air will spend over the water – if the wind is stronger, the air will spend less time over the water water).  Here’s currents in the Great Lakes.   This is dictated by the wind direction, speed and geography.  Note that today, there is a uniform surface flow from north to south over Lake Superior, but a little more disrupted flow over Lake Michigan.   BTW – I was at the station last night until 4:50 AM – around 1 PM, I updated radio forecasts from home and right now I’m checking weather and watching the Atlanta-49ers game.  I’m on call if and when team coverage is needed.  Kyle Underwood called early this afternoon and we went over the weather and how we plan coverage for all our media for the next 72 hours.  There’s a lot going on behind the scenes.  At this point I would lean on the slightly higher end of snowfall amounts – the most favorable lake-effect areas should see over a foot of snowfall this week.  The latest NAM (Caribou) gives G.R. 7″ of snow this week and Holland 14.4″.

Also, the GRR NWS has wisely noted the possibility of ice jams on area rivers by the end of the week into early next week.   Also (as is often the case) when we have a cold shot, the upper pattern aligns to bring cold air to Europe and Eastern Asia.  Lots of winter going on in the U.K. and in Japan.  London has had 10 days in a row with colder than average temperatures and during that time they’ve been 6 degrees cooler than average.  Dublin, Ireland is in the mid 30s and snowing.  The weather has moderated in northwest Mexico after some of the coldest temperatures in 42 years and heavy snow.

288 Responses to “Sunday PM”

  1. Jack says:

    Back to FOOTBALL CUE , For BILLS BLOG : The Beatles- A Day in the Life – YouTube
    ► 5:07► 5:07 ;-)

    1. Katie in Kentwood says:

      watching the pats and ravens now…really sloppy game.

  2. Mindy ( Mason MI ) says:

    Current Radar….FIZZLE!!!! Must be that GIANT BUBBLE!!!!!

    1. Jack says:

      Speaking of Fizzzzzler..hmmmmmmmmm.. Where is He… How many names is it Indy ?????

  3. Mindy ( Mason MI ) says:

    Wow!! WATCHES AND WARRINGS…where is all that SNOW??? do i hear OVERHYPE AGAIN!!

    1. Katie in Kentwood says:

      no you do not.

    2. Brian says:

      I am curious if you understand what Lake Effect Snow is?? You won’t see that on radar right now coming from Wisconsin or something…….

    3. Wmi says:

      Worry about the weather in your area.

    4. Jules says:

      That’s what they do best!

  4. Jeff (Portland) says:

    Test 1

  5. Stacsh says:

    Advisory will no doubt be dropped. Warning will be downgraded if not dropped all together.

    1. Tom (Wyoming) says:

      What are you basing this on? Your sophisticated at home weather equipment?

      1. Stacsh says:

        The fact that there isn’t any moisture. Not even snowing im the UP.

        1. Tom (Wyoming) says:

          I will refer you to Brian’s comment on Mindy’s post above…

        2. Harry (Battle Creek) says:

          I agree with you, Tom. Stacsh and Mindy are both lost.

  6. There will be moister air soon. That should start up the Lake Effect Machine. If not the NWS is gonna have egg on their face.

    1. Nathan (Forest Hills) says:

      Ya, what’s happening?

    2. phlrnnr says:

      Nothing new there.

  7. Travis Ulberg (West of Martin, Allegan County) says:

    Snow looks to be intensifying back up on the radar in the past few minutes. Snowing lightly with tiny flakes right now.

    1. Stacsh says:

      No it doesn’t

  8. Clint(Rothbury) says:

    Give it about an hour or so and everything will be in place and the lake machine will be cranking!!!! Just be patient everyone the NWS is right on track with this one!!!

    1. Tom (Wyoming) says:


  9. Looking at radar, looks like it might be starting to fire up.

    1. Travis Ulberg (West of Martin, Allegan County) says:

      Beat ya to it by a couple of seconds lol

  10. Brad (Lawrence) says:

    We are currently in a NO SNOW PATTERN!

    Sorry, couldn’t resist. :P

    1. Jeff (S.E. Ionia County) says:

      No ” I’m getting the clubs out golf . Looks like golf weather “. :P Just picking Rock !

      1. Jeff (S.E. Ionia County) says:

        “I’m getting the clubs out”

    2. Rocky (Rockford) says:

      Now that is really funny :)

      1. Brad (Lawrence) says:

        Just stating the FACTS Rocky.

  11. Clint(Rothbury) says:

    I’m certain by 9:45-10:00pm the lake shore will be seeing some moderate to heavy snow… let’s wait and see if I’m right?? GET READY WEST MICHIGAN!!!!!

    1. Travis Ulberg (West of Martin, Allegan County) says:

      Doesn’t look like you were right…

      1. John (Holland) says:

        He was spot on, actually. It was not snowing at all at 9:30, and I just checked and it’s coming down again.

        1. phlrnnr says:

          Nothing moderate or heavy there, though :-)

  12. When everyone starts freaking out over a forecast, all I can think of it this:

    1. Jeff (S.E. Ionia County) says:

      OMG ! I feel looney now. lol !

    2. Should play that every time the Lions lose.

    3. Red in Allegan Co. says:

      INDY on Sprites!

  13. INDY says:

    We will have a Harball bowl…. In 2 weeks…….INDYY….

    1. Jeff (S.E. Ionia County) says:

      HOPING SO INDY !!!!!!!!!

      1. Kevin(Rockford) says:

        Both of em? Be the Cry Bowl

  14. Cort S. says:

    Bloggers, might want to realistically delay your expectations on the snow for a few more hours. If you want to take what the HRRR model is saying, it won’t start snowing in until some point in the overnight period, and getting really good around daybreak tomorrow. (Click Here) Sorry to keep you waiting. Don’t crucify me or anything; I’m just here to observe and report. Try to have fun and be kind to each other. Oh, winds will increase by tomorrow morning too… brrrrr… (Click Here)

    1. Stacsh says:

      But but but the radar is starting to light up! Lol

      1. Steelie says:

        Good Day,

        Hey Cort, as always, great links. Any opinion on the dgz and just how much moisture might make it here? Thx!


        1. Cort S. says:

          I don’t have the right tools to take a good look at the DGZ (the depth, the moisture content, the vertical velocities of air in it are all important), so I’ll have to defer to the NWS / WOOD snowfall forecasts and discussions. That has been a point of concern with the NWS for several days now, is the shallow and low-to-ground DGZ. For those curious what I’m talking about, without dendritic snow crystal growth, it’s harder to get big, fluffy, fast-accumulating snows.

          The HRRR is showing relative humidities increasing at the ground tonight as temperatures fall closer to the dewpoints (Click Here). And at 850 mb (about a mile above ground), the HRRR is showing higher RH air moving across the lake in the late overnight period (Click Here). But that dry air that is riding its coattails is, um, interesting, let’s say. *shurg* :)

        2. Steelie says:

          Good Day,

          Thanks Cort! Kind of what I was thinking (although clearly more amatuer in my approach… haha). I am concerned about the moisture and how long it might last…


  15. Cort S. says:

    And here comes the reinforcing shot of cold air, which will knock us down an additional 5-10 degrees from the comfortable upper teens where we are now. This animation shows the temperatures at the 925 mb pressure surface, which is a couple thousand feet off the ground: (Click Here). This should also help increase instability over the lake (instability is cold air above warm air), which is one of the 3 main ingredients for lake effect snow, along with moisture and lift.

    1. Katie in Kentwood says:

      Let it snow!! Just waiting for that moisture to show up…

    2. Rocky (Rockford) says:

      Nice – thanks for posting this link!

  16. Rocky (Rockford) says:

    I just checked the 00Z RDB model and it still shows GR picking up 3-5 inches of snow by Monday night! Get ready to ROCK n ROLL people!!!

    1. Storm waning says:

      Bills formula is…..

      3-5 inches of snow equals 1.5 to 2.5 inches of snow. This is major Rock and Roll

  17. Slimjim says:

    Over here just north of Bay City there are breaks in the clouds and the temp from the car reads 14 with a NW wind here. We will be heading home tomarrow. It was for the most part cloudy here with no new snow. The highest I seen today was 19 . I see the lake effect has not started in earnest over there as of yet.

  18. Storm waning says:

    Live on the kent Ottawa border, we are buried, buried, under a severe dusting of snow. Huge drifts of, of, powder white stuff at two – three inches.

    Good news is the latest ZW34r model calls for another heavy dusting over the next 240 hours! Yes, that’s right between now and early February and additional heavy dusting.

  19. Storm waning says:

    Live on the kent Ottawa border, we are buried, buried, under a severe dusting of snow. Huge drifts of, of, powder white stuff at two – three inches.

    Good news is the latest ZW34r model calls for another heavy dusting over the next 240 hours! Yes, that’s right between now and early February and additional heavy dusting.


    1. Jeff (S.E. Ionia County) says:

      HAHA ! Good one !

    2. Cort S. says:

      Following your direction, I shall reply: Boring… let me know when you’re two snowflakes deep!

    3. Rocky (Rockford) says:

      Hey it sounds like you are still in a NO SNOW PATTERN :)

  20. INDY says:

    Hey storm warning 7 min. till bed time !!!!Snow dreams!!!!INDYY..

  21. Heather says:

    Why don’t they just have one warning? Blizzard, meaning its actually going to snow. Why is it every time we get a dusting of snow were automically under a damn warning? Stop making everyone panic over nothing!

  22. Nathan (Forest Hills) says:

    Terri tweeted that “he is pulling an all nighter” does she mean you Bill? Haha, I wish I could but I have my first exams tomorrow!

  23. Travis Ulberg (West of Martin, Allegan County) says:

    Apparently they aren’t too impressed with the snowfall at wood. I see they dropped the snowfall predictions for the snowbelt down to 6-8″.

    1. Nathan (Forest Hills) says:

      Where did you see that?

    2. Travis Ulberg (West of Martin, Allegan County) says:

      On the graphic they just showed at the start of the 10PM news.

  24. Storm waning says:


    The GR metro area is looking at an inch currently
    The radar is empty

    Bill says… note – snowfall is not the same thing as snow accumulation – as the snow settles down. A foot of snowfall may be 6-8″ of snow accumulation).

    GR may get 3-5 which is really. 1.5 – 2.5 on the ground

    WOOD is calling for mid 30s in another week

    Yes, the next 48′hours are going to be quite cold, but all in all rather brief.

    1. John (Holland) says:

      Your sarcasm is hilarious. I’m drowning in tears.

  25. Mindy ( Mason MI ) says:


    1. INDY says:

      Do U know a Deb from OK?? Mindy?? INDYY..

      1. Matt (Spring Lake) says:

        Hmmmm…Ludington IS IN a Mason County………..

  26. Harry (Battle Creek) says:

    Haha I guess no one read my post earlier about how no one is listening and everyone will say that the NWS/Forecast/Woodtv is a fail because it didn’t snow tonight…

    GUYS, the deeper moisture doesn’t arrive until late into the overnight hours. The heaviest snow/snow will not be until after daybreak-8AM.

    1. Don (Battle Creek) says:

      All about patience…definitely in short supply this winter with the lack of snow so far.

    2. Matt (Spring Lake) says:

      Would you say it is a good sign that the air is moving slower? I would think the longer time over the lake gives the bands more moisture and more time to form, thus dumping heavier snow.

      1. Harry (Battle Creek) says:

        It shouldn’t change much except for delay the onset and the heaviest snow later. The lake effect won’t really get going until after 6-8AM.

    3. Irish coffee says:

      I would say start time closer to 2-3am….fwiw; also think Kazoo gets substantially MORE than 2-4″ total you were predicting (by Wed)

  27. INDY says:


  28. Todd In Nunica says:

    All I know is 331 days later I am FINALLY heading out to plow some snow! not much snow…but …its still work!

    1. bobcat says:


  29. Cort S. says:

    ISSUED AT 1020 PM EST SUN JAN 20 2013


    1. Nathan (Forest Hills) says:

      So what does that mean in English Cort?

      1. bnoppe(Albion) says:

        Its going to snow

      2. Matt (Spring Lake) says:

        It means they see signs that the lake effect clouds, moisture, and instability are increasing as this disturbance moves closer.

        1. Nathan (Forest Hills) says:

          Ok, thanks. So it doesn’t look like the heavy snow will start until at least midnight… I’ll be going to bed for now, but hopefully stop by in the early hours (1-4 AM)!

        2. Matt (Spring Lake) says:

          Sure. It has been confusing, as some were calling for it to start this evening, and others saying moreso overnight into the morning. The GRR NWS was calling for it to pick up around 7 p.m. (oops!)

      3. Katie in Kentwood says:

        I wanna wake up to a winter wonderland! And I am sick of people already assuming this is a bust.

        1. Tom (Wyoming) says:

          I’m with you Katie.

        2. Jack says:

          The key word Katie is…”WONDER”… just SAYIN… ;-)

      4. Cort S. says:

        Snow showers (SHSN) should slowly ramp up tonight but it won’t really start snowing in earnest until just before daybreak. Omega is meteorological technobabble for “rising air” (semi-technobabble is “vertical velocity” or “lift”)… and this upward air movement plus moisture is what creates clouds and precipitation.

        (Lake effect snow needs those two ingredients, lift and moisture, plus instability, which is warm air underneath much colder air. The warm lake creates instability when colder air flows over it.)

        1. Nathan (Forest Hills) says:

          Ok, it seems like the NWS should delay the warnings to 3AM or something.

  30. Nathan (Forest Hills) says:

    Waiting for moisture. I was expecting this to happen btw! It’s pretty typical for a situation like this to occur!

  31. Michael (Berrien county) says:

    00Z NAM has a real flare up of the lake effect overnight.

    1. John (Holland) says:

      Indeed, and the latest 84-hour has greatly enlarged the 14-inch prediction area on the Ottawa-Allegan border.

      Much of that may be from the system later this week, but still, nice to see that.

      1. Michael (Berrien county) says:


  32. Harry (Battle Creek) says:

    We should start to see the snow accumulations come down closer to reality now… lol

  33. Travis (Oxford, MI) says:

    Lake effect is always spotty and difficult to forecast. With that said, NWS started their warnings way too early on this one (7pm).

    The GFS had been showing steady lake effect starting several hours ago, so one has to wonder how the rest of the forecast will transpire as well. I guess the air is too dry yet.

    If one is to believe the CPC, looks like some milder air is coming this weekend and early next week (southern Lower Michigan is back in above average temps). Also, looks like a nice storm to watch Thurs/Fri this week.

  34. Matt (Spring Lake) says:

    Amusing that around 7 p.m. was when there was probably some of the least snow shower activity. It snowed pretty good in these parts up until about 4 p.m. and then wound down to off and flurries during the 6 to 7 time frame.

    1. Todd In Nunica says:

      yea ya got that right…lol just fired up the truck…man is that snow squeaky! Now looks like more closer to rush hr before it really ramps up….thats fine for me, long as we get another 2″ tomorrow (after I plow tonight)ill be happy.

      1. Matt (Spring Lake) says:

        Have you been over in these parts yet? Did we get more snow. I don’t know if you got my earlier post, but I live in northern Spring Lake township near Rycenga Park. Five minutes away from both Fruitport and Spring Lake…on the west side of Spring Lake.

        1. Todd In Nunica says:

          no i have not left yet, being that it was a marginal snow I figured I would wait. Im leaving now, looks to be a real fast night if it waits to start snowing.

        2. Matt (Spring Lake) says:

          Just so you know…the wind has really blown it around. Some lots are bare with the snow drifted to one side.

  35. 00z still holding high accum. but im starting to get inpatient!!

    1. Matt (Spring Lake) says:

      Beat me to it. Yeah, there has been too much waiting this winter!

      1. looks like the radar is really starting to flare up and intensify.. within the last half hour

        1. Matt (Spring Lake) says:

          Sweet..I haven’t looked lately because I want to be somewhat surprised…but now I have to look! Lol

        2. Brian(Grandville) says:

          Matt, I’ve tried that. It doesn’t work. I always have to look. I have a lot of patience, but not for this.

        3. Matt (Spring Lake) says:

          We’re addicts, Brian. Quit cold turkey? I think not…

  36. Cort S. says:

    48-image radar loop from CoD:

    Snow is back on the increase (started to ramp back up in the 8 o’clock hour), but it’s got a ways to before it’s considered significant. It also looks like it’s transitioning from cellular to broken-banded. Fun to watch it evolve.

    1. Matt (Spring Lake) says:

      Sure is!

    2. Brian(Grandville) says:

      Nice radar site.

    3. Cort S. says:

      The difference in wind directions (shear) between the ground and the cloud layer is what determines whether lake-effect is cellular or banded. The less shear you have, the more you’ll see banded lake-effect snow.

  37. Travis Ulberg (West of Martin, Allegan County) says:

    We have gone from flurries to a constant light snow for the past 30-45 mins…it’s a start.

  38. sean(Kalamazoo says:

    News 3 says only 3-5 inches by the lakeshore according to their website

  39. My sled will be getting alot of miles put on this week, gotta ride while ya can since it looks like next week it may start melting already!

  40. Katie in Kentwood says:

    I’ve been watching the radar all night…taking a break for an hour or so and hopefully I’ll be pleasantly surprised when I come back to it!

    1. Matt (Spring Lake) says:

      It looks like a band is forming over my head. Don’t look out the window, don’t do it, Matt….

  41. Jack says:

    CORT , In A Nutshell, What’s the difference Between Lake Affect, and Lake Enhanced Snow ?

    1. Cort S. says:

      As far as how I use those terms, it answers the question, “would it be snowing at all if the lake wasn’t there?”

      If it would be snowing anyway due to a disturbance or low-pressure system, but the lake is adding to its intensity, then I say it’s lake-enhanced snow.

      If we would not get any snow at all if the lake wasn’t there, then I say it’s lake-effect.

      If it’s snowing but the lake isn’t enhancing it, like if our winds are coming from the east, then we would call it synoptic snow because it’s purely due to a low-pressure system (which is a synoptic-scale phenomenon, in meteorological parlance).

      1. Jack says:

        Thank – You Sir CORT !,

        1. Cort S. says:

          Anytime, Mr. Jack!

  42. Scott (west olive) says:

    Winds aloft are still pretty good. Smoke/steam out of consumers energy stacks is taking a 90 degree turn to the west as it comes out. Not much time to build over the lake when it’s that windy yet.

  43. Michael (Berrien county) says:

    For as slow as this event is getting started, I’m really quite impressed with the NWS’s latest precip outlook for the next 7 days. Well over 1 inch water equivalent in many areas. Granted that’s from this event, the synoptic event later in the week, & more lake effect next weekend. But still, figure snow to liquid ratios 20:1 to possibly as high as 30:1 with a lot of this in the cold air….. we could really be piling it up over the next 7 days!

  44. Travis Ulberg (West of Martin, Allegan County) says:

    Well I went outside at midnight to get my 1/20/13 snowfall, and I measured 0.9″. And maybe a trace since the warning officially started. Had constant light snow for the last 2-3 hours, but it’s been so light that it would take me about a week to mustard out an inch at this rate.

  45. katie in kentwood says:

    I just drove up to the alpine walmart and it is snowing lightly here….enough to cover roads and it was kinda a slick drive up 131. I hope we get more snow!

  46. Jeff (Portland) says:

    Looking at these bands setting up on radar.. Looks like there are oriented from west to east at this time
    I may see some snow in the morning !

    1. Jeff (Portland) says:

      ^^^^ New look. Ty Bill !

  47. Jeff (Portland) says:

    Btw, very lite snow falling here at the moment …

  48. Nick (Grand Haven / West Olive) says:

    radar shows snow here but nothing :(

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