Jack Martin took this pic. of the full moon shining through thin clouds. It’s a cold start to Friday. We dipped to zero here in G. R. during the night. It was near zero on the other side of Lake Michigan. The the air crossing the lake across the warmer open water and some lake-effect clouds near the shore kept the coastal areas from Muskegon north near +15. Today is the 23rd day in a row with colder than average temperatures and during this stretch we’ve been nearly 17 degrees colder than average! Muskegon set a record cold high temperature of 17 Thursday. Previous record was 21 in 1972, 1948, 1928, 1917, and 1901. Lansing set a record cold high temperature of 17 degrees Thursday…Previous record was 18 degrees in 1901 and 1890.
The models have no significant storms in the next week. A few periods of light snow or flurries this weekend, an inch or less. Afternoon temperatures today will be in the low-mid 2os with a brisk SW wind keeping wind chills in the 5-15 range. The European is has these high temps. starting today: 23, 39, 38, 42, 45, 52, 46, 50, 51. The GFS meteogram doesn’t have G.R. warmer than 36 on any day. The GFSX has highs starting Saturday at 40, 38, 40, 41, 41, 38, 44. On that model, the day with the highest chance of precipitation (and that’s not a sure thing) is next Friday. I’m hopeful that we can melt our snow gradual, so we won’t get any significant flooding. There’s a lot of ice in the rivers and regardless of the weather, there will be a chance of ice jams as the ice breaks up. Some sun, highs in the low 40s and then below freezing at night would be good weather for getting the sap flowing in the sugar maple trees.
These are MODIS satellite pictures of the five Great Lakes taken this (Thurs.) afternoon (from NOAA Coastwatch). Great Lakes ice cover as I write this is at 80.4%. The link will give you the latest ice extent. The ice cover on Lake Michigan broke up a little with the strong winds back on Feb. 24. Ice extent on the Great Lakes usually peaks in early March. Right now ice extent stands at 51.8% on Lake Michigan…for Lake Superior 90.3%, Lake Huron 90.9%, Lake Erie 95.9% and Lake Ontario (53.6%). Lake Erie is the southernmost Great Lake, but usually gets the highest percentage of surface ice cover, because it’s a relatively shallow lake (average depth 62 feet). Here’s a winter season record of ice on Lake Michigan. It’ll fluctuate a bit as the winds break up the ice and it later reforms. Check out the graph of ice extent this season for lakes Superior, Huron, Erie and Ontario. Compare Great Lakes ice today to Great Lakes ice one year ago. Here’s a year-to-year comparison for Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. Great Lakes ice cover peaked last year on March 6th at 92.5%, a little below the record of 94.7% in 1979.
The water level of Lake Michigan/Huron is down one inch in the last month, but up 21″ in the last year. The lake(s) remains 8″ above the March average water level. Lake Superior is down 2″ in the last month, but up 8″ year-to-year. Superior is now 8″ above the historic average for March. Lake Erie is down 4″ in the last month, up 1″ in the last year and now 4″ below the average for March. Lake Ontario is down 5″ in the last month, down 6″ year-to-year and it’s 11″ below the long term average. It’s curious that Lake St. Clair dropped 6″ in the last month. That’s due to a build-up of ice constricting the flow out of Lake Huron into Lake St. Clair (which has also caused Lake Erie and Lake Ontario to drop a couple inches) The water levels in general are dropping due to below average non-lake-effect precipitation and the fact that it’s been below freezing, so the precipitation sits on the ground as snowcover rather than draining into the lakes. The water flow over Tahquamenon Falls has slowed to almost nothing because of the intense cold this winter.
7:15 pm - Back from the Laughfest. I left before the count to break the record (for # of people wearing paper crowns). The last of the flurries have died out. The clouds and flurries today were courtesy of Lake Michigan. It was totally clear across the lake in Wisconsin. We’ll see partly to occasionally mostly cloudy skies tonight It’s only 13 deg. in G.R. at 7 pm – down from a high of 19. (average high for G.R. today is 40). Wind chills range from 0 to +10 at this hour. Here’s the GRR NWS discussion.
The warm-up is on the way for next week. We’ll have one more day in the really cold air. We’ll have a southwest wind tomorrow, but it’ll bring in recycled cold air. It’s only in the 20s in Southern Missouri, so even with a southwest wind, it won’t be warm. But the wind stays southwest for much of the next week, so that will eventually bring in the warmer air. We’ll be back to the mid (maybe upper) 30s this weekend and into the 40s by the middle of next week. Use the links below, lots of fun things to check out.
Today, Lake Michigan ice cover stands at 52.3% (middle image). You can see by the graph on the left, that Lake Michigan ice cover peaked at the end of February. Strong winds broke up some of the ice. A little more reformed last night. It will be breezy tomorrow (Fri.). Mean temps. will stay below freezing (barely) through the weekend. Next week, it will likely be a little cooler over the lake than on land. We may have very well hit peak ice on Lake Michigan.. The Coast Guard reports they’ve run into a few spots on the Great Lakes where the ice is up to 8 feet thick (boulders) and that will take time to melt. The Great Lakes as a whole are at 80.4% ice cover, compared to 91% on 3/5/14. Lake Michigan was at 91.9% on 3/5/14 (image on the right) .
We have a full moon tonight. The full moon on this March 5th is called a Micro-Moon or Mini-Moon. The Moon’s orbit around the Earth is an elipse, not a perfect circle. So, there are times when the moon is a little bit closer to the Earth and times when it is a little farther away. Of all the full moons of 2015, today’s full moon is the one that occurs when the Earth and Moon are most distant, approximately 252,500 miles. The moon is farthest away at 2:21 am, while the exact minute of full moon is 1:09 pm.
Model variation: The European model has high temps. beginning Sat. of 39, 36, 40, 44, 54, 56, 46 and 53. The GFS has high temps. no higher than the upper 30s, as snow cover and probably some stratus forming as moisture from melting snow brings up dew points. The GFS also has a decided turn to colder Canadian air around the 13th. The Canadian also has it turning cooler, but not as cold as what we have now around the same time. Then we’ll have to watch to see if we eventually get into the SW-NE storm track during the 2nd half of March into April.
Here’s a late morning shot from the Muskegon GLERL camera (from NOAA Coastwatch). There is open water in the channel, but on the lake, it’s ice as far as you can see. There’s a thick cloud cover now as cold air pours in across the open water farther out in the lake.
At 11 am – you can see the colder air moving in from the west-northwest. The temperature at 11 am was 27 in Lansing, 24 in Grand Rapids, 21 in Muskegon, 15 at Milwaukee, 9 at Green Bay, 5 at Minneapolis and -8 at International Falls MN. So, if anything, temperatures will drop a couple degrees this afternoon. We’re getting a little sun from time to time, but more clouds than sun and despite the dry air mass, we could see a few lake-effect flurries.
The morning run of the NAM (car) model has a low of +6 for G.R. tomorrow am…17 tomorrow afternoon is all (average high for tomorrow is 40). We’re down to zero Fri. am on the NAM (car) an low 20s Fri. pm. Saturday is mostly cloudy with a dusting of snow and temps. back to the low-mid 30s. I’ve got to run to the dentist for my semi-annual teeth cleaning, so tune in tonight to see the updated forecast and my pretty teeth. Have a nice afternoon.
A Winter Storm Warning has been issued for the high elevations (generally above 12,000 feet) of the Big Island of Hawaii for 12-18″ of new snow! The warning is in effect until 6 am Thursday. Winds of 20-30 mph will cause drifting snow and keep wind chill factors in the low-mid teens. A Flood Watch has been posted for the Big Island and for Maui. Thunderstorms are possible along with general showers. Hilo has already had 1.93″ of rainfall in the first three days of March and over 10″ since Jan. 1. Kahului has picked up 2.71″ of rain in the first three days of March and Oahu Forest 1.19″. Waves are forecast up to 13 feet by Friday. A persistent trough north of the islands is expected to produce periods of rain through next week. (Picture from ERSL is from Mauna Loa looking north to Mauna Kea after a previous snowfall. Note the high sun angle.
9:15 pm - We could see a few flurries later tonight. I think the mist has ended. We’ve already reached our highs – 33 in G.R., first time to 33 since 2/11. Three more days well below average coming up. That will make 23 days in a row cooler than average.
Temp. is now 31 in G.R., Muskegon and Ludington, 28 in Big Rapids, still 34 in S. Haven, Battle Creek, Kalamazoo and Coldwater. Mid-upper 20s in E. Wisconsin, the colder air is coming.
Grand Rapids officially had 2.9″ of snow by 5 pm – for a season total of 77.9″. Muskegon is up to 92.1″. Main roads are mostly still wet/damp, with icy spots on side roads. Even main roads may have icy spots tonight as temperatures fall to near 20 by daybreak. Here’s the GRR NWS discussion.
The warm-up is on the way for next week. We’ll have two more days of cold, Arctic air and temperatures 20 degrees colder than average. We’ll be back to the mid 30s this weekend and into the 40s by the middle of next week. Use the links below, lots of fun things to check out.
A Winter Weather Advisory will be in effect tomorrow for the entire area (the entire state of Michigan along with adjacent areas of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin will under an Advisory). The Advisory will be in effect for our area from 7 am to 8 pm. Icy roads could continue to be a problem after 8 pm as temperatures fall and there is still a chance of a little light snow or freezing drizzle through the evening.
High of 29, low of 15 today in G.R. That makes 19 days in a row that the average temperature has been 8 or more degrees colder than average.
This is NOAA’s (WPC) 24-hour snowfall probability map for Tues. Today (Mon.) should be a nice day. Any chance you have to travel and run errands today and not have to do it tomorrow would be encouraged. I think we’re dry this evening. Snow will start after midnight. Tues. that will go over to sleet/freezing rain and then rain as temperatures get to freezing (it may stay snow north of line from around Mt. Pleasant to Whitehall…then back to snow before it ends Tues. night as more cold air comes in and freezing things up (which make both Tues. and Tues. night hazardous for travel). Remember the ground is cold, so ice may form on roads even a degree or two above freezing and that’s especially true for dirt/gravel roads. Wednesday and Thursday will be unseasonably chilly with mid-January cold. Temperatures moderate for next weekend, but don’t look for any big push of warmer, spring weather. The overall pattern still looks cooler than average to me into mid-March. The averages are going up at a steady rate now (the average high for March 5 is 40 and we get to the low 50s by the end of the month). We’ve still got a lot of snow and ice around here. Here’s GFS model snowfall and the GRR NWS forecast discussion.