February, 2013

Updated Great Lakes Water Levels

February 28th, 2013 at 7:17 pm by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

   The picture here is the Big Red Lighthouse at Holland from “Deb” at ReportIt.  Check out the picture bigger than full screen.   Above average precipitation in the Great Lakes has brought lake levels up in the last few weeks.  Only Lake Superior, where temperatures have been below freezing (no snowmelt) has gone down 2 inches in the last month.   Lakes Michigan, Huron and Erie are all up 2″ in the last month and Lake Ontario is up 3″ in the last month.   Lake Superior is one inch higher than it was last year on March 1.   Lake Michigan/Huron (the two lakes behave as one big lake – connected up at the Mackinac Bridge) is one foot lower than one year ago and 26″ below the long-term average.  Lake Michigan is now 2″ ABOVE the lowest March lake level, which occurred in 1964.  Lake Erie is 7″ below average and Lake Ontario is 5″ below average.   Again, I want to point out that if you hear that the reason that Lake Michigan’s (and Lake Huron’s) water level has dropped is the below average snowfall last winter…that statement is easily proved false.  Precipitation (rain and melted snow) was above average over much of the Lake Michigan/Huron basin last winter (less snow, but more rain) and precipitation over the basin has been above average for 7 of the past 12 years.  If you haven’t read them, you should read this article and this article.    You can check out Michigan stream and river flow here.  With cool temperatures over the weekend, we’ll continue to track the possibility for ice jams on Michigan rivers.


Good News

February 28th, 2013 at 1:19 pm by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

    Some good news from Ed:  “We saw the NYMEX/Chicago market price fall to it’s lowest level since 1/30/13, to $2.8713. This is down from $3.0786 on Friday, and a high of $3.1095 on 2/15/13. Is relief in sight? The market has been very volatile recently, with wide swings of prices from day to day up and down. The last two days we saw drops of 8.73¢ and 12¢, with another drop of 10.67 from the 19th to the 20th. Prices went up more than 5¢ four times in the last month, with a high of 14.87¢ from the 13th to the 14th. So it’s hard to tell whether these low prices will fall more, even out, or go up again.The average back in 1/30/13 was around $3.55 depending on your state. The average now is around $3.85. Spike Line margins are also very high, from 26-30¢ Expect pump prices to fall tomorrow, and barring some sort of volatile move upward in the market, we should see prices fall through the weekend.”    This is good…I’m down to 1/8th of a tank…all I have to do is go back and forth to the station (7.3 miles one way), so maybe I can limp along and save a buck or two.


Last Day of February

February 28th, 2013 at 4:31 am by under Bill's Blog, Weather

Local  European model now dry next Tuesday.  Really looks like a cool (then moderating) and dry pattern.  Average high temperature climbs to 40 on 3/5 and 50 by 3/28 (in a month). It’s the last day of what has been a cool and snowy month in W. Michigan.   There will still be a few widely scattered lingering flurries, so I’ll leave radar at the top of the blog.  Just trace amounts this afternoon/evening.  It’ll be a cool and dry start to March, but another great weekend for winter sports.  For current Michigan weather observations and wind speeds, click here. Here’s NAM model snowfall thru 84 hours, the GFS snowfall thru 120 hours and the HPC snowfall predictions. Here’s WOOD-TV Interactive Radar, looping radar. Check out regional radar, GRR radar, northern Indiana radar, Chicago radar and Milwaukee radar. Here’s the College of DuPage Radar Map, the local warning/advisory map and the National warning/watch/advisory map. You can checkout the latest Grand Rapids NWS discussion, the Northern Indiana NWS discussion (includes the Michigan Counties that border Indiana), the discussion for Northern Lower Michigan, and Eastern Lower Michigan. Here’s the Spyglass Condos Weather Station the S. Haven GLERL station, the Muskegon GLERL station, the Grand Haven Steelheaders webcam and weather station, and the weather station at Holland State Park. Check out the WOOD lightning tracker and U.S. lightning, the Marantha Webcam at Lake Michigan and links to webcams. Here’s the infrared satellite loop (night) and the visible satellite loop (daytime), Lake Michigan water temperatures. Here’s storm total precipitation for W. Michigan.

Check out the ice boulders on Lake Michigan and another video of the ice balls (it’s been on Good Morning America and now being shown around the world)


Snow in the U.S. and Texas Blizzard

February 28th, 2013 at 4:25 am by under Bill's Blog, Weather

    As of Weds. 2/27 a total of 49.1% of the Lower 48 states had a snow cover (see map at top left – click on the images to enlarge).  That’s the 2nd highest for any Feb. 27 going back thru the 10 years that I have records for.  The average for those 10 years is 37.5%.  The average snow depth is a very healthy 6.6″.   The middle picture shows stranded cars after the blizzard that hit Amarillo Texas and on the right we have snowfall totals of up to 19″.  Wind gusts in Amarillo were as high as 75 mph  and this was truly a class one blizzard.  The storm and the one before that covered much of Kansas, Oklahoma and E. Nebraska in snow brought welcome moisture.  It’s not enough to eliminate the drought, but it’s most welcome as the snow will now soak into the ground as it slowly melts.  Look at the snow up near the top of this sign.  Check out the difference between 2/27/11 in N. Texas and 2/27/13.  Here’s a summary of the North Texas Blizzard.  Here’s a little video of the blizzardLooks like they get a snowstorm in Maine.


Big taste, lots of shortcuts

February 27th, 2013 at 11:20 pm by under Entertainment, Food Joy, Uncategorized

Putting a healthy and delicious dish on the table doesn’t have to take all night or become a major construction project.  This is a good, green go-to from my “Weeknights with Giada” cookbook, a Christmas gift that keeps on giving. (Thanks, fellow foodie Amanda Harper!)  Tonight’s fare – Ricotta Cheese, Lentil and Brown Rice Rolls.

 

Here’s what they look like in progress. Me and my new baking bestie Giada love that dark green good-for-you color of the Swiss chard leaves that form the wraps for this easy to put together palette please-r.  No need to keep you waiting. Here’s all you need to know:

Ingredients:

5 large Swiss chard leaves
1 15-oz can cooked lentils, rinsed and drained.   Another option.  I cooked my own lentils, which took an entire 10 minutes.  Sort, rinse, boil, done.
1 1/2 cups ready cooked brown rice  Or – I am madly in love with my rice cooker and use it every weekend, so ready cooked brown rice?  Done.
1/4 cup (4 ounces) whole-milk ricotta cheese, at room temperature
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/3 cup plus 2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 packed cup (1 ounce) baby arugula leaves, chopped. This is when I miss my garden most.
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint. Again, the garden missing.
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon Kosher sale
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 jar (26 ounces) marinara or tomato-basil sauce  I used about half this much and was happy with the results.

Place oven rack in center of oven.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Butter an 8 X 8 baking dish and set aside.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.  Remove the thick stem from the center of each chard leaf.  Trim the ends to make each leaf half about 7 incheds long and 4 inches wide.  Here’s where I improvised a bit, having chard that didn’t seem to care how wide or long it was.  Add the leaves to the boiling water and cook for 10 seconds.  Seriously. This recipe says 10 seconds.  Not sure what kind of an oven timer you have, but mine goes off by the time I set it for 10 seconds.  I say, ‘boil quickly or until leaves become slightly limp’.  So, after you boil them, rinse them with cold water and let them drain on paper towels.

In a medium bowl, mix the lentils, brown rice, ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese, 1/3 cup olive oil, arugula, mint, garlic, salt and pepper.  Spoon 1 cup of the marinara sauce on the bottom of the prepared pan.  Spoon a heaping 1/3 cup of the filling onto the end of each leap and roll up like a burrito, tucking in the sides as you go. Arrange the rolls, seam side down, in a single layer on top of the sauce.  Spoon the remaining sauce on top and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese.  Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil.

Slide the baking dish into the oven an bake for 25 minutes or until the cheese begins to brown and the rolls are heated through.  Cool for five minutes are serve.

Enjoy!


Snow Winding Down

February 26th, 2013 at 4:13 am by under Bill's Blog, Weather

Local   Weds. evening -  We have light snow all around us…it’s snowing lightly at the Indiana border, back to to Jackson and over to Ann Arbor and Detroit.  There’s snow along and north of U.S. 10 from Ludington east and snow west of us over Illinois and Indiana.  We’ll eventually get a little more light snow later tonight/tomorrow AM, but less than 1/2″ in most areas.  Snowfall amounts reported by the public have been anywhere from 1″ to 9″.    A RAPID bus collided with a car by GVSU – Allendale.  There were injuries reported to persons in the car.    Our parking lot here at WOOD is snow-covered and icy this morning.  Side streets, rural roads, sidewalks and parking lots are snow-covered and slick in many areas now.  We had hundreds of school closings this morning.   We’ll hold in the low 30s pretty much all night long into Weds.  morning.     Some of this will melt as it falls on the main roads with temperatures close to the freezing mark.    Dry weather and rather cool for Friday into the weekend.  It’ll be another great weekend for winter sports.   For current Michigan weather observations and wind speeds, click here. Here’s NAM model snowfall thru 84 hours, the GFS snowfall thru 120 hours and the HPC snowfall predictions. Here’s WOOD-TV Interactive Radar, looping radar. Check out regional radar, GRR radar, northern Indiana radar, Chicago radar and Milwaukee radar. Here’s the College of DuPage Radar Map, the local warning/advisory map and the National warning/watch/advisory map. You can checkout the latest Grand Rapids NWS discussion, the Northern Indiana NWS discussion (includes the Michigan Counties that border Indiana), the discussion for Northern Lower Michigan, and Eastern Lower Michigan. Here’s the Spyglass Condos Weather Station the S. Haven GLERL station, the Muskegon GLERL station, the Grand Haven Steelheaders webcam and weather station, and the weather station at Holland State Park. Check out the WOOD lightning tracker and U.S. lightning, the Marantha Webcam at Lake Michigan and links to webcams. Here’s the infrared satellite loop (night) and the visible satellite loop (daytime), Lake Michigan water temperatures. Here’s storm total precipitation for W. Michigan.

Updated Season Snowfall totals as of 9 AM:  Grand Rapids 1.6″ Midnight to 9 AM, 57.3″ for the season (7.1″ below average), 32.8″ for February, 47.9″ to this point last year.   Muskegon 1.9″ Midnight to 9 AM, 53.2″ for February, that’s an all-time record snowfall for Muskegon for any February, 92.8″ for the season (10.9″ ABOVE average to date!), 49.8″ to this date last year.   Lansing 1.3″, 24.1″ for the season, 17.7″ below average, season to date, 38.7″ last year to this point.   Kalamazoo  1.3″ Midnight to 9 am, 30.1″ for the month, the most in February in over 15 years, 56.2″ for the season, 10.3″ below average to date.   Holland 71.9″ for the season at last check, with 49.8″ for February.  From blog comments yesterday evening:  71″ Saugatuck and 80″ E. Martin.


Cool first half of March

February 25th, 2013 at 9:47 pm by under Bill's Blog, Weather

    Last year on March 11, the high temperature in G.R. was 65 degrees.  Five of the first 12 days of March 2012 were in the 60s.  This is the GFS model from the 18Z run for March 11 (2013).  Click on the picture to enlarge.  Now, keep in mind it’s the GFS and…it’s 336 hours out…and…it’s 99% likely that it’s overdone….but…WOW, that is one blast of Arctic air plowing down thru the Great Lakes.  However, with March starting with a negative North Atlantic Oscillation, a very negative Arctic Oscillation and a positive Pacific North American Pattern…it’s a no-brainer that the first 3 1/2 weeks of March 2013 won’t be anywhere near as warm as the first 3 1/2 weeks of March 2012.   The average high temperature for March 1 is 38, for March 11 it’s 42 and by March 28, the average high is 50.


Winter Weather Advisory

February 25th, 2013 at 8:34 pm by under Bill's Blog, Weather

   We have a Winter Weather Advisory for most of the area.  The Advisory goes from 10 am Tues. to midnight Tues. night for Berrien, Cass, St. Joseph, Branch and Hillsdale Counties.  It runs from 1 pm Tues. to 6 am Weds. for Van Buren, Kalamazoo, Calhoun, Jackson, Allegan, Barry, Eaton and Ingham Counties and it runs from 4 pm Tues. to 6 am Weds. for Ottawa, Kent, Ionia, Clinton, Muskegon, Newaygo Montcalm, Mecosta, Gratiot and Isabella Counties.

A mix of rain and snow will develop from south to north across the area during the midday and afternoon hours.  Temperatures will be close to freezing during this event, so at least some of the snow will melt as it hits the pavement on the expressways and more heavily traveled roads that would have some residual salt or would get salted as the snow comes down.   We may also get a period of rain or rain/snow mixed.  The heavier precipitation will be along I-94, with lighter amounts in general north of a line from Whitehall to Big Rapids.  Most areas should be in a 2-5″ snowfall area (though with warmer temperatures and some melting, it may not accumulate that much in some areas.   Light snow will linger into Wednesday with flurries possible on Thursday.  We’ll also have some icy spots tonight and tomorrow AM from the melting snow puddles that have frozen up tonight.  This will also be a great weekend for winter sports.

MODEL UPDATE:   New snow totals off the 00z NAM (caribou).  This is Tuesday PM thru Wednesday evening.  Grand Rapids 4.1″ (0.69″ total precipitation…starts as rain around 4 PM, goes over to snow in the evening…mix of rain and snow for 7 hours on Weds.).  Muskegon 5.1″, Lansing 5.3″, Kalamazoo only 1.7″ (more rain than snow), Jackson 3.9″, Pontiac 6.3″, Big Rapids 6.2″, Mt. Pleasant 7.8″ (NAM just teasing the met. students at CMU), Cadillac 1.3″, Ludington 3.0″, S. Haven 3.0″, Holland 5.1″.

Through today, Grand Rapids is 2.7 deg. cooler than average for February.  Today was only the 6th day out of the last 27 with no precipitation.  Prior to today, we had just 18% of possible sunshine this month.  This looks like it will be the coolest start to March in the eastern U.S. since at least 2005 (and possibly even 1996).   We will not have a temperature warmer than 45 this month in G.R.   That’s only happened now (inc. this Feb.) four times in the last 20 years.   Check out the snow and wind reports from N TexasThe Amarillo area had up to 17″ of snow with wind gusts to 75 mph!  Claude, Texas reports 14″ of new snow with 6-foot drifts!  Pantex TX had 77 mph (non-thunderstorm) wind gusts and near Guyman OK they report 1.5″ of snow with 3 foot drifts!


Oscars 2013: the winners and losers

February 25th, 2013 at 8:41 am by under Entertainment

“Argo” wins best picture and breaks trend, “Life of Pi” leads a spread-the-wealth ceremony, and Daniel Day-Lewis makes Oscars history

Ben Affleck (center) in “Argo” photo courtesy Warner Brothers

 The 85th Oscars saw history, a break from the norm, and as I predicted – the wins were spread out amoung a handful of movies.

“Life of Pi” wins 4
It wasn’t a runaway hit, but “Life of Pi” picked up 4 Oscars (out of 11 nominations) for Best Director (Ang Lee), Cinematography, Musical Score, and Visual Effects.
["Life of Pi" - My Pick to see (video review): http://youtu.be/iEK5025AoSY ]

“Argo” wins 3
In addition to Best Picture, “Argo” also won for Adapted Screenplay and Editing for a total of 3 Oscars (out of 7 nominations).   With its Best Picture win and Ben Affleck’s snub from the directing category, 2013 saw a break in the 23 year trend of the Oscar winning Best Picture also having its director nominated.   1990 was the last time that a movie – “Driving Miss Daisy” – won Best Picture without its director at least getting a nomination.  That also happened in 1929 (“Wings”) and 1932 (“Grand Hotel”).    For the last 23 years, its almost been automatic that the same movie won both Best Picture and Best Director, “Argo” makes it just the 6th time recently that “split” has happened – “Crash” (2006 – Ang Lee won for “Brokeback Mountain”), “Chicago” (2003 – Roman Polanski won for “The Pianist”), “Gladiator” (2001 – Steven Soderbergh won for “Erin Brockovich”), “Shakespeare in Love” (1999 – Steven Spielberg won for “Saving Private Ryan”), and “Driving Miss Daisy” (1990 – Oliver Stone won for “Born on the Fourth of July”).
["Argo" - My Pick to see (video review): http://youtu.be/ByksH6cTP5Q ]

“Les Miserables” wins 3
“Les Miserables” also won 3 Oscars – Best Actress for Anne Hathaway, Sound Mixing, and Makeup & Hairstyle (8 nominations).

“Lincoln” wins 2
Then it was “Lincoln” with 2 wins (out of 12 nominations) for Daniel Day-Lewis for Best Actor and for Production Design.   Day-Lewis became the first actor to win a 3rd Oscar for Lead Actor (“There Will Be Blood” and “My Left Foot”).
["Life of Pi" - My Pick to see (video review): http://youtu.be/VZcRsOC3xas ]

“Django Unchained” wins 2
“Django Unchained” won 2 Oscars for Original Screenplay for Quentin Tarantino and Supporting Actor for Christoph Waltz (who also won in same category for Tarantino’s “Inglorious Basterds”), “Django” had 5 nominations.

“Skyfall” wins 2
“Skyfall”the 4th biggest money maker in the U.S. in 2012 – won 2 Oscars, the most ever by a Bond film,   for Best Song and Sound Editing (in a tie with “Zero Dark Thirty”), the movie was nominated for 5 Oscars.
["Skyfall" - My Pick to see (video review): http://youtu.be/dEkaP7oD6kM ]

Ohh, and the show went long – a total of 3 hours and 35 minutes, thanks in part to a 17 minute opening number.  Seth MacFarlane was good as first time host, while he was better than last year – overall the show was good, but not great… with some longer periods that lagged between awards… and memorable moments.

HERE’S A LOOK AT ALL THE CATEGORIES

BEST PICTURE:
WINNER: Argo
Nominees: Amour, Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty

( Aaron’s Pick: Argo )

ACTOR:
WINNER: Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)
Nominees: Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook), Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln), Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables),  Joaquin Phoenix (The Master), Denzel Washington (Flight)

( Aaron’s Pick: Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln) )

ACTRESS:
WINNER: Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)
Nominees: Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty), Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook), Emmanuelle Riva (Amour),  Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild), Naomi Watts (The Impossible)

( Aaron’s Pick: Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook) )

SUPPORTING ACTOR:
WINNER: Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained)
Nominees: Alan Arkin (Argo), Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook), Philip Seymour Hoffman (The  Master), Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln), Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained)

( Aaron’s Pick: Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook) )

SUPPORTING ACTRESS:
WINNER: Anne Hathaway
Nominees: Amy Adams (The Master), Sally Field (Lincoln), Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables), Helen Hunt (The Sessions), Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook)

( Aaron’s Pick: Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables) )

DIRECTING:
WINNER: Ang Lee (Life of Pi)
Nominees: Michael Haneke (Amour), Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild), Ang Lee (Life of Pi), Steven Spielberg (Lincoln), David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook)

( Aaron’s Pick: Steven Spielberg (Lincoln) )

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM:
WINNER: Brave
Nominees: Brave, Frankenweenie, ParaNorman, The Pirates! Band of Misfits, Wreck-It Ralph

( Aaron’s Pick: Wreck-It Ralph )

The rest of the categories continue below…. (more…)


Winter Storm Watch

February 25th, 2013 at 2:42 am by under Bill's Blog, Weather

   We have a Winter Storm Watch in effect for the entire area for Tues. afternoon and Tuesday Night for up to 6″ of (wet, heavy) snow.  If you look at the National Advisory/Warning Map, you’ll see the National Weather Service offices agree that the Plains storm is headed up here toward Michigan.  This storm will produce another 6-12″ of snow in parts of the Plains, more much needed moisture for them.  The system will weaken as it comes our way, with maybe 3-5″ here, so certainly not the biggest storm of the winter for most of us.  I anticipate the Watch being upgraded to an Advisory this PM.  It may come in two time periods, with a mix of rain/snow Tues. PM/night, then snow Weds. PM night.  Dry and cool weather will follow for Thursday and Friday. This storm will add or our already high February snow totals.  Muskegon has already set a record for February snowfall at 46.4″ and, while I don’t have snow records for Holland, their monthly total (also now at 46.4″ is either a record or very close to it.  Grand Rapids has picked up 27.1″ of snow so far this month.  In the meantime, enjoy a little sun today.  Through Sunday, we’ve had just 18% of possible sunshine this month.  There are patches of ice this morning, snow that has melted and refrozen overnight.  There were some patches of thick fog this morning, but they should evaporate by late morning.  High temperatures average in the upper 30s for the last few days of February and we should be close to that this PM.  Friday to Sunday look cool, with temperatures holding only around the low 30s in the PM – plan on another great weekend for winter sports.  The overall pattern looks cool for the first half of March (which would be much cooler than the first half of March last year.    This storm system will produce isolated severe weather from LA to NC, SC, GA and FL.