Monday Night

April 21st, 2013 at 1:53 pm by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

Flood Grand River kulmom reportit railroad bridge plaza towers   11:20 PM -  As I expected, the Grand River in Ottawa County is holding steady.  At Robinson Township, the water level is at 16.7 feet, only up from 16.6 feet Sunday.  It should hold at around 16.7 tonight and start falling tomorrow despite the rain.  Robinson Township crested at 17.1 feet last Friday.  The Grand River in downtown Grand Rapids has dropped around 8″ since the crest of 21.85 feet Sunday evening.  Comstock Park is down 7″, Ada has dropped about 14″ from crest and Lowell is down about 20″ from crest.  All other area rivers are falling.  Smaller creeks and rivers will rise with the rain late tomorrow into Weds., but should stay well below peak water from the last week.  Here’s a nice summary of the event from the GRR NWS.  You can click here to get current river level readings.  The Grand River crested at 21.85 ft. Sunday evening in downtown G.R.  Other crests included 24.69 ft. in Ionia at 9:45 AM Saturday, 19.02 feet in Lowell at 6:35 am Sunday, 22.88 ft. at Ada at 1:30 am Sunday and 17.8 in Comstock Park around 10 PM Sunday.    The peak flow on the Grand River was 33,700 cubic feet per second and the flow of water was over 6.2 times the average volume of water.  On the Muskegon River, the crest at Evart was 12.52 ft. Saturday, and at Croton the crest was 11.11 ft. at 7:45 PM Friday.   The Grand River set a modern record high water level in Kent Co. (the flood of 1904 had a significantly greater water flow and the floodwaters covered the entire West Side all the way to John Ball Park).    The North Park Bridge, the 6th St. Bridge and the Fulton St. Bridge were closed.  West River Dr. was down to one lane in each direction west of Northland Dr. Sunday.   Volunteers were making sandbags are being made at a rate of up to 6,000 per hour.     WOOD-TV has amazing helicopter views of the river and we’ll have full coverage on 24-Hour News 8 on DAYBREAK and at noon.  The picture is the railroad bridge south of the S-Curve with water up to the rails.  They have parked a train loaded with calcium chloride from Ludington on the bridge to weigh it down (something that’s been done during floods over well over 100 years).  Each car weighs 131 tons (263,000 pounds).  In the background, you can see the evacuated Plaza Towers (no electricity).     Picture from kulmum at ReportIt.  See the picture enlarge here.

Season snowfall in the U.P.:  Twin Lakes 291.3″ (inc. 43.4″ in April!), Herman 251.8″, Marquette Airport 208.4″, Munising 200.9″ and Ironwood 198.4″.   Anyone got a guess when the ice will be gone from the lake by Krupp‘s Resort?

Monday was Earth Day.  I worked on the first Earth Day in 1970, while a student at the Univ. of Wisconsin along with Senator Gaylord Nelson.  I was a co-chair of the Dane County Clean -Up and made a couple of local TV appearances to promote the day.  I wanted it to be constructive, to accomplish something  – more than the usual angry student rallies.  This week is also the Lyrid Meteor Shower.  A picture has been circulating telling of a spectacular event.  While that’s not impossible, it’s not likely.  There are other meteor showers that are usually more  eventful than the Lyrids.  This year we also have a 3/4 full moon to light the sky.  Final note…today is the 35th wedding anniversary of Bill and Gayle Steffen.  You can see a wedding picture at my facebook page.

84 Responses to “Monday Night”

  1. snowshovler says:

    Bill if the train trestle were to topple over with the box cars on it could it cause a dam that would cause the water to back up even more or take out more bridges down stream?

    1. Bill Steffen says:

      First, the odds of that happening are very small. Second, there are 3 bad effects if the bridge were to give out. There would be a big train blocking the river. Water would go around and through it, but logs coming down the river might cause a damming effect, which we would have to deal with. Second, we would worry about any impacts to the Wealthy St. Bridge a block away. The river is fairly narrow there. Third, the train cars are loaded with salt, which would be harmful to wildlife in and along the river. But, like I said, we think the odds of that are very, very small.

    2. Rocky (Rockford) says:

      .000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001% chance of that happening!

      1. GunLakeDeb says:

        Rocky – I watched the news and they showed that bridge – it’s certainly not the “healthiest” bridge I’ve ever seen :-( While I understand that the weight anchors it – if it starts to wobble, that’s a LOT of top-heavy weight….. I guess salt is the least-hazardous thing they could have loaded in the cars?

        1. Bill Steffen says:

          They should use holiday fruit cakes…that would REALLY weigh the bridge down.

        2. Judy says:

          Hey…..I like fruitcake. How about Al Gore’s head instead!

      2. Blue Moon says:

        just like your “fore casts” lol

  2. Brian(Grandville) says:

    Just entered east bound I 196 @ Wilson and traffic is at a standstill.

  3. Clarence says:

    I am worried. Is it still okay if I fish in the big river? I have a secret spot where my family goes but it seems dangerous to be near. I hope this flood ends and my family can go back to feeling safer in dangerous Grand Rapids. Thank Bill!

    1. Bill Steffen says:

      There were some big fishing jumping totally out of the water when I did the weather at the Ford Museum.

  4. cbm says:

    First Sunday in 39 years of no church. I have spoken. Sad and hard times here after so many hard ships and now the flood.

    1. WhatBillwantstosaybutcant says:

      Looks like nobody is going to take the bait numbnuts.

    2. Rocky (Rockford) says:

      Are you related to fixxxer? Stop your whining and complaining!!

    3. Clarence says:

      Cbm. I hope you try to cling on faith, as I am during this biblical flood in Grand Rapids. This town is tough, and offers many things that make me wonder as well. My friend says God has a plan for us all even if we are dirt poor and begging for help in misery everyday. But my family helps with Tv and Internet, and I am blessed by Bills show and by the nice neighbors who have been helping me fish the last several days. I love you all and hope god stops frowning on us in this dangerous town.

  5. mike says:

    ah just dredge it, according to Bill that makes water levels all over even hundreds of miles away go down.

    1. Bill Steffen says:

      Yeah, gravity and the fact that water is a fluid will do that. From this article:

      “Pressure is mounting on the U.S. and Canadian governments to explore ways to restore water levels on Lakes Michigan and Huron that have been lowered nearly two feet due to historic dredging on the St. Clair River. The St. Clair has been heavily dredged for over a century, and the federal government has long acknowledged that this human meddling in the riverbed has led to a permanent drop of about 16 inches from Michigan and Huron’s long-term average. A Canadian conservation group created by property owners from northern Lake Huron’s Georgian Bay hired its own engineering firm to conduct a study of what was going on in the St. Clair River back in 2004. That study said the water lost from the lakes by expanding the river channel was actually much greater than 16 inches – and getting worse.”

      1. Judy says:

        Hopefully they decide to dredge in the Mississippie so that they don’t have to send so much water down the Chicago canal system. Maybe then they can close it to prevent the Asian carp from getting into Lake Michigan.

        1. Judy says:

          Mississippi…..spelling error

  6. Nathan says:

    I drove downtown and got some good footage of nearby flooded forests

  7. michael g (SE GR) says:

    White Pine Trail is high and dry from the ball park north to Rockford. 3-4 feet above the water level at it’s lowest point.

  8. dan cobern says:

    I have a question for bill steffen.we were under a moderate risk for severe weather Thursday and nothing happened was that because we had no sunshine .we even had a tornado watch.

    1. INDY says:

      Hey Dam becoouse we had a col,d front moving in…Bill INDY has been drink ingt sprites out on his pattio with the grand raiver around it thee YARDofBRICKS is iunder water pleaes do not give us any more rain ….INDYY.

    2. Cort S. says:

      Hi Dan, a few things conspired to prevent a larger severe outbreak. You are on the right track… the lack of sunshine certainly kept things from getting too unstable. A pre-frontal line of storms moved through in the morning, which I don’t think was well anticipated. Despite the lack of sunshine, it was a serious concern that the strong dynamics the low pressure system (60-70 mph winds just a couple thousand feet above the ground) would be able to make the storms severe. The storms triggered warnings for some lakeshore counties because of strong winds seen by radar, but the air at the ground ended up being too cold and stable for the strong winds aloft to mix downward. The clouds and rain all afternoon prevented the atmosphere from destabilizing the rest of the day. The cold front came through in the evening and tried to force a line of storms into existence, but all it could muster was a thin line of showers because of the lack of instability.

      1. GunLakeDeb says:

        And THANK GOODNESS for that!!!! :-) We didn’t get near the rain that GR did – so our flooding issues were mostly due to clogged agricultural drains. Although the road on 1st St in Allegan County that is closed, is due to the excavator tearing the culverts out while trying to clear them…. sheeesh…..

  9. Daniel G says:

    Bill, those cars are loaded with CALCIUM CHLORIDE not salt. It comes from Occidental Chemical in Ludington and is used for the most part as a dust layer on gravel roads but has other industrial uses. Probably not a real good thing if it went into the river but its not SALT.
    Cars weigh in at 131 tons each. Thats 263,000 pounds. Holding down the bridge well. The railroads always do that in flood times. Pictures of the flood in 1905 in Lowell shows boxcars on the Pere Marquette bridge, the same one thats there today. In the 1986 floods CSX took coal trains north to Newaygo and White CLoud and parked them on the bridges and took coal cars to Greenville, Belding and Lowell doing the same thing.
    Stay away from the CSX bridge, RailRoad police in place and they are handing out trespassing tickets.

    1. Bill Steffen says:

      OK – the mayor said salt. Great information Dan – I’ll pass it along to the news dept.

      1. Daniel G says:

        Nobody asks the people that know these things…or the reason why they are parked…and of course the railroad has always had poor public relations…they don’t wanna talk to anyone about anything.
        I work here though. Any questions send me an email and I’ll answer as best I can.
        Yard is going to be closed here in Grand Rapids for awhile. Water up over about 10% of the tracks and the yard switchers were all sent to Holland out of harms way. No trains going north of course but some are going east and west and the coal to West Olive is running as usual for Consumers Energy, no problems there.

      2. GunLakeDeb says:

        Bill – it’s still “salt” – just not “table salt” (sodium chloride). Used for road de-icing, too.

        1. Daniel G says:

          Salt, sodium chloride. Calcium chloride may be a salt but it is not salt as we know salt…sodium chloride. Tow different compounds altogether chemically and physically.
          This product used to be called DowFlake and is manufactured in Ludington. Occidental Chemical bought out the Dow calcium chloride business a few years back. They ship in flake and liquid forms and yes it is used as a road de-icer althought its more expensive then SALT. KCRC would mix the two and I would think they still do.

        2. Judy says:

          Exactly….”In chemistry, salts are ionic compounds that result from the neutralization reaction of an acid and a base” Ca(OH)2 – probably the reaction of calcium hydroxide and hydrochloric acid.

  10. Rocky (Rockford) says:

    Get ready people – starting the week of 4-29 – above average temperatures are on the way. Skiing is done and golf here I go!

    1. Daniel G says:

      Should be a bumper crop of skeeters!

      1. GunLakeDeb says:

        Ugh – I remember the last wet spring we had; and one didn’t dare go anywhere near any woods without ample applications of repellent….

    2. Judy says:

      It’s already been warm enough for golf….I’ve gone at least three times so far this year. True, it’s been a little chilly, but not horrible. Leagues already started last week.

  11. Uncle Sparkee says:

    Your ol uncle sparks already has two skieeter bights on my legs. Not from outside. I think the hydroponics I work with inside the love shack has hatched a indoor type of skeeter. Anyway I promised your ol aunty Edna May Day we will become outdoor farmers. Should knock the ol electric bill down big time. Any of you big city hobos have stock in the electric co. Pull out on May Day ! Just a little inside trading tip from your ol uncle sparks!!

    1. Jack says:

      Roflmao……Love It !, Uncle SSSSSSSSS…. Stay Cued !!!!! ;-)

  12. INDY says:

    Hey Uncle Sparks still feeling it from 4-20 !!! Would u send me a Shot gun maybe if I sit outside with it out in my front yard the gallllkers will stop going up and down the street maybe its time to let off a round or too in Plainfield township…..Bring ol anty eddy down so she can get run over by a car do are family all a flavor would ya !!!! U old country boy u sparky!!! FROM DRINK A DIRTY 30 out in thee grand we need sand INDYY….

    1. Jack says:

      A Cue 4 theeeee YardofBricks INDY !!!!!! 4 THEEEE MUDDY WATERS( hint,hint) !!!! Turn it UP…..INDY!!! ;-)

  13. Cliff (Scotts) says:

    Does anyone know what are temps are average below normal for the month so far?

    1. Bill Steffen says:

      Through today (4/21), Grand Rapids is 5.1 deg. cooler than average for April (after being 4.1 deg. cooler than avg. in March and 2.0 deg. cooler than average in February. Kalamazoo is 3.7 cooler than average for both April so far and March. February was 1.4 cooler than average in Kalamazoo.

  14. cbm says:

    I want to thank the good people who helped me and my family today.

  15. ryan says:

    so is Thursday going to be our last day with a high in the 40′s until fall??

    1. Jack says:

      I HOPE !!!!! SO !!!!! Ryan !!!!! ;-)

    2. mr. negative says:


  16. Larry from Hastings/Barry Co says:

    I wonder how the homeless people are doing who live along the river?

    1. Jack says:

      I had the same Thought the Other Day Larry. Thank- You for Verbalizing It here onBills Blog.. There but for The Grace of God go We! Hoping they all Took Secure Shelter! Prayers to all Suffered from This Flood !

    2. Jack says:

      Hey Bill, Maybe KEN KOKLER ,could Do a Follow- Up Story on The Homeless Folks by the River, and See How The Coped with THIS FLOOD. And of course How are COMMUNITY Can Help Them ! God Bless…Y’all !

  17. Jack says:

    They not The. And… OUR not are… Sorry been a long Week !

  18. whatBillwantstosaybutcant says:

    Happy 35th Bill. Here’s to 35 more.

  19. Paul says:

    Wow, I wish Robinson Township got this much coverage when they actually lost homes.

  20. Irish coffee says:


  21. Nathan (Forest Hills) says:

    Happy Earth Day Bill! Today is the day when I debate Global Warming with my classmates! Wish me luck (And Happy Anniversary!!)

    1. DF (SE Mich) says:


  22. Doug says:

    Bill do you have any information on the speed of the river over this weekend? Sure seemed like it was rockin’ through downtown.

    1. Bill Steffen says:

      I could only guess. I’ve checked the flow on the Colorado River when I was out there and this is probably close to that. It’s not as fast as you might think and it’ll vary, of course. Water weighs 62.4 pounds per cubic foot. Force = mass x velocity squared…so something that heavy has a lot of force when it’s moving. Even at 8 mph, you probably couldn’t stand in the water much higher than your knees. The water would be strong enough to knock you over.

  23. Red in Allegan Co. says:

    Happy Anniversary Bill and Gayle! May you have many more.

  24. DF (SE Mich) says:

    Happy Anniversary both of you!

  25. DF (SE Mich) says:

    Detroit had another day of -14° below normal yesterday. GR was warmer than Detroit for once at only -12° below normal. =)

  26. Mike M. says:

    To celebrate Earth Day I’m going to throw an environmentalist on the fire and toast some marshmallows.

  27. ryan says:

    CPC has above average temps in our area for the 6-10 day outlook and 8-14 . When is the last time we’ve seen that?

    1. DF (SE Mich) says:

      All spring long, every time they are wrong. It’s the CPC curse.

      1. Cort S. says:

        6-10 and 8-14 day outlooks have been pretty good. We’ve been stuck in below-normal temps for quite a while, and above-normal precip much of the time. The one-month and three-month outlooks are not as successful (though keep in mind that “EC” does not mean average, it means equal chances for anything to happen… kind of like saying “we don’t know”).

        You can check precious 6-10 and 8-14 day outlooks here:

        The last time we were solidly within above-normal 6-10/8-14 day temperature outlooks was April 2, though the chances of that were less than 50%.

        1. Cort S. says:


          There were a couple 8-14 day outlooks at the end of March in which Michigan was in the >50% chance of above-normal temperatures. But the last time Michigan was within 6-10 and 8-14 day above-normal temperature outlooks for at least a few days in a row (and had a few outlooks that had probabilities >50%)… Jan 29 – Feb 3.

        2. DF (SE Mich) says:

          You are correct Cort. My mind was stuck on the above normal maps they posted over and over prior to April 2. They finally learned, maybe.

        3. bnoppe(Albion) says:

          no I think there “precious” out looks sounds just fine

  28. DF (SE Mich) says:

    Best 1970 Earth Day prediction, by consensus I can only assume.

    “The world has been chilling sharply for about twenty years. If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age.” – Kenneth Watt, Ecologist

    1. Mike M. says:

      Read what Hubert Lamb from UEA said about that in 1972…

      Heh, Earl Scheib will paint your car for $29.95!!

  29. dano (Norton Shores) says:

    I don’t belive I want to go to Krupp‘s Resort for awhile. Wow…

  30. DF (SE Mich) says:

    Another Big snow storm coming up North.

    1. Cort S. says:

      And with that, TWC has used its last winter storm name (Zeus). I wonder what they’ll do after that.

      1. bnoppe(Albion) says:

        winter storm AA

  31. Evie says:

    Happy Anniversary! Happy Earth Day!

  32. William says:

    TWC will name all remaining storms Rocky, (Rocky, Rocky II, etc.), in honor of our resident Snow and Winter Weather lover!

  33. Ada Bill says:

    Just for the Record, Is it the 500 Year Flood, 100 Year Flood or just a high crest Flood ?

    1. DF (SE Mich) says:

      Pre or post-flood wall??? =)

    2. Cort S. says:

      Isn’t the floodwall built for a 100-year flood? So I guess this would be a less-than-100-year flood. But the downtown crest was way above any other modern crest since the floodwall.

  34. Wolverine Doug says:

    Curious how everyone thinks this will effect the mosquito population?

  35. I have a couple pictures on my facebook. Also made a video for youtube of the flooding yesterday.

  36. Dan says:

    Congratulations Bill and Gayle!! 35 years that is AWESOME!!!

  37. Lorr (Grand Haven) says:

    Happy 35 years Bill and Gayle. I was just a fetus but I do recall you guys went up in a hot air balloon,shortly after you were married and it was on the news.

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