Bill Steffen

Mt. St. Helens Volcano – 35 Years Ago Today

May 18th, 2015 at 1:47 am by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

Today (May 18) is the 35th anniversary of the biggest (and there were a handful) explosion of Mt. St. Helens, the last big volcano in the Lower 48 states. The picture on the left is the mountain before the explosion (center). The image on the right is damage to trees. The explosion that occurred on May 18th, 1980 at 8:32 AM local time destroyed 4 BILLION board feet of timber, enough to build 300,000 homes. The initial blast-thrust was 300 mph. According to the USGS, the landslide caused by the collapse of the northern slope of Mount Saint Helens was the largest debris avalanche on Earth in recorded history. Within 15 minutes ash was blown into the stratosphere to a height of 80,000 feet. The ash cloud passed over Grand Rapids two days later (I have a slide I took of the ash cloud, which looked like a thick, uniform cirrus cloud layer) and circled the globe in 15 days. Ash accumulation was 10″ deep ten miles from the volcano and 1″ deep sixty miles from the volcano.The height of the mountain was reduced by 1,314 feet. The blast began with a 5.1 magnitude earthquake. Fifty-seven people were killed that day, 250 homes, 47 bridges, 15 miles of railway and 185 miles of roads were destroyed. Here’s more factsmore pictures, a link to the National Monument website, and the Wikipedia article.

Here’s links to a few other active volcanoes:   the Pavlof volcano in Alaska.  Popocatepetl in Mexico.  Mt. Mayon in the Philippines   Shiveluch in far east Russia. We still have the more prominent erupting volcanoes like Mt. Etna in Italy and Kilauea in Hawaii.


Sunday Night/Monday

May 16th, 2015 at 1:11 am by under Bill's Blog, Weather

Central Great Lakes sector loop

8 pm Sunday update – Here’s both regional and local radar.  There is a chance of a shower or t-storm tonight.  There are a few out there.  Overall, this system is a lot “quieter” today (Sun.)  than it was yesterday (severe reports today at the links).  Here’s the convective outlooks for the next 3 days from SPC.  There’s a Marginal Risk for SE Michigan.  Much of Monday will be breezy and dry.  Here’s GRR radar.   The Slight Risk has been in Wisconsin today (Sun.) with a   The front comes thru later on Monday, so we get warmer (it will be cooler near Lake Michigan).

I traveled to Lansing Sun.  morning for the Michigan AP Awards luncheon (held Sunday noon because more media people are free from work at that time).   WOOD is getting a boatload of awards, and I got Best Weathercast for 2014.

Also:  Damage on the island of Rota from Typhoon Dolphinvideo of typhoon on Rota (big wind, bigger waves)…1.34″ of rain in 30 mins, 2 mi E of Maricopa, AZ, near Phoenix…Incoming shelf cloud from approaching severe t-storm in Nebraskatornado in Weld Co., Coloradotornado damage Torrington WYflooding in Bridgeport NE (plus bonus tornado siren in the background)…snow in N. AZCorpus Christi Airport reported tornado (+FC) in observations from 12:49 to 12:58 pm CT, wind gusts to 52 mph

Links:  Here’s Grand Rapids radar and Northern Michigan radar, NAM model 3-day snowfall forecast and GFS model 5-day snowfall forecast. Storm Total Snowfall will show the heaviest snow and Milwaukee looping radar. Regional radar and the Updated GRR NWS Short Term Discussion. More links: Northern Indiana radar, Chicago radar, Detroit radar and Milwaukee radar. Here’s College of DuPage Radar Map (pick any radar in the U.S.), College of DuPage Grand Rapids radar, the West Michigan Lightning Tracker, National Lightning Tracker, the local warning/advisory map and the National warning/watch/advisory map, a surface weather 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 Maranatha 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 (summer). Here’s recent storm reports from SW Michigan, Northern Michigan, NE Illinois, SE. Wisconsin, Upper Michigan and E. Michigan. Check out the wind and wave height at the South Mid-Lake Michigan Buoy (Apr. to Nov. only), the North Mid-Lake Michigan Buoy (Apr. to Nov. only), the buoy at Big Sable Point near Ludington and the weather station on the beach at St. Joseph. Here’s Michigan wind gusts from MesoWest, data from the MAWN agricultural weather stations and Weather Underground (data at the bottom from private weather stations). Here’s the Consumers Energy Power Outage Map, Here’s www.instantweathermaps.com.


AZ Snow, CA Rain, MI Warms

May 15th, 2015 at 12:38 pm by under Bill's Blog, Weather

Snow Flagstaff   day3otlk_0730  On the left, we have 7.7″ of new snow at Flagstaff Arizona.  Quite a storm in the SW U.S.  San Diego had 1.63″ of rain, including 1.3″ in just one hour!  Other rain totals included 0.69″ in downtown L.A., where they had a thunderstorm, 0.47 in San Jose and just 0.03″ at Palm Springs.

Our rain has pretty much moved east.  There is a chance of a shower, mainly along and south of I-94.  Temperatures at noon range from 63 in G.R. to 66 in Kalamazoo to only 48.6 at the Muskegon Beach, with a wind off the water.  Here’s the latest satellite loop.

The graphic on the right is the Severe Weather Outlook Area for Sunday PM.  The yellow is the Slight Risk, which comes to Milwaukee.  The darker green Marginal Outlook Area does come into West Michigan.  Severe weather reports in the U.S. yesterday (Thurs.) included one tornado in central Missouri and 34 total reports.  The peak wind gust from Typhoon Dolphin at Anderson Air Force Base on Guam was 106 mph.


Friday AM Showers

May 15th, 2015 at 12:50 am by under Bill's Blog, Weather

Friday AM showers – mostly light and becoming widely scattered.  While there is a chance of a shower or t-shower this PM, most of the PM will be dry.  Warmer air on the way – low-mid 70s later today and near 80 Sat. and Sun.  There will be a few showers/t-storms developing over the weekend, but they will be widely scattered and 80-90% of the time it won’t be raining.   Check out the thread below this one for the long range outlook.

Also:  Los Angeles gets a t-storm!  Lightning starts this palm tree on fire in Valley Village CA.   Heavy rain at Dodgers Stadium.   Flash flood in San DiegoSan Diego got 1.3″ of rain IN ONE HOUR!  That’s more rain than they average from May thru October!  Only the 6th rain delay ever at PetcoPark in San Diego.   REPORTS OF SD FIRE AND POLICE RESPONDING TO MULTIPLE WATER RESCUES.  When was the last time you saw that!  Home flooded.   Lightning over Folsom Lake CA.   Flooding in Fresno CAAnother Fresno pic.   Video of Fresno Flood.    Hail accumulating near SacramentoFunnel cloud north of Sacramento.  Here’s California weather observations – heavy rain in downtown L.A. at 9 pm local time.   Typhoon Dolphin about to hit Guam – significant damage expected.  Guam radarGuam weather observations.  Here’s Guam’s obs for 72 hours – gust to 79 mph at 1 am EDT and increasing!  2.63″ of rain so far on Guam – that may not be the half of it.   Waves up to 22 feet on Guam and still increasing.

Here’s Grand Rapids radar and Northern Michigan radar, NAM model 3-day snowfall forecast and GFS model 5-day snowfall forecast. Storm Total Snowfall will show the heaviest snow and Milwaukee looping radar. Regional radar and the Updated GRR NWS Short Term Discussion. More links: Northern Indiana radar, Chicago radar, Detroit radar and Milwaukee radar. Here’s College of DuPage Radar Map (pick any radar in the U.S.), College of DuPage Grand Rapids radar, the West Michigan Lightning Tracker, National Lightning Tracker, the local warning/advisory map and the National warning/watch/advisory map, a surface weather 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 Maranatha 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 (summer). Here’s recent storm reports from SW Michigan, Northern Michigan, NE Illinois, SE. Wisconsin, Upper Michigan and E. Michigan. Check out the wind and wave height at the South Mid-Lake Michigan Buoy (Apr. to Nov. only), the North Mid-Lake Michigan Buoy (Apr. to Nov. only), the buoy at Big Sable Point near Ludington and the weather station on the beach at St. Joseph. Here’s Michigan wind gusts from MesoWest, data from the MAWN agricultural weather stations and Weather Underground (data at the bottom from private weather stations). Here’s the Consumers Energy Power Outage Map, Here’s www.instantweathermaps.com.


Forecast Thoughts

May 14th, 2015 at 9:01 pm by under Bill's Blog, Weather

610temp.new   610prcp.new   Light rainshowers develop tonight and continues into the early morning.   Most rainfall amounts in Illinois have been under 1/4″.  While there is still a chance of a lingering shower or t-shower tomorrow midday and afternoon, any activity would be very widely scattered.  Temperatures will reach the low-mid 70s tomorrow PM.  The weekend should be warm, low 80s.  There will be a chance of a shower or t-shower Saturday and Sunday, but again, activity should be widely scattered and most of the time it will be dry.  A sharp cool front comes through Monday AM.  There will be showers and t-showers ahead of the front Sunday PM/Night.  Monday will be breezy and cooler with temperatures possibly even falling a few degrees during the day.

An extended period of dry and cool weather is likely from Monday afternoon through at least Friday of next week.   The images are the temperature and rainfall forecasts for May 20-24 from the Storm Prediction Center.  They show higher probabilities for cooler and drier than average weather over Michigan and the Great Lakes.   The European model takes the temperature at 850 mb (about a mile above the ground) down to -5.5C Tuesday evening.  That’s mighty chilly air for the middle of May.  That may be a little overdone.  We’ll have to watch for scattered frost in low spots next Weds. AM (we’ll likely have a breeze to stir the air Tues. AM).  It’s a little early to speculate on the Memorial Day Weekend.   The GFS would have it dry 80+% of the weekend, with the first chance of a shower/t-shower on Sat. the 23rd, the European would have the first chance of a shower Sat. night.

Also:  It’s snowing in Southern California!   Downtown Los Angeles has received 0.16” of rain today, breaking the daily record set more than 100 years ago in 1902.   Looks like a rainy Friday for San Diego where there’s a Flash Flood Watch.  There’s a Winter Weather Advisory for the mountains north and east of L.A. for up to 8″ of snow, and there is a Winter Storm Warning for the Sierra Nevada Mtns. of CA.  Up to a foot of snow will fall in the Colorado Rockies.   Massive squid washes up on New Zealand beach.


Rain Later Tonight

May 14th, 2015 at 12:03 pm by under Bill's Blog, Weather

Central Great Lakes sector loop Radar (from NWS) shows the rain coming our way for later tonight (generally after midnight – so your evening golf or baseball league should be OK). Rain late tonight and early tomorrow…most areas will likely be dry tomorrow PM/evening…warm weekend, up near 80 in the PM.

Not much frost last night…official low temps: 40 G.R., MKG, Holland – 37 Lansing, 35 Charlotte, 34 Ludington, Hart, 32 Cadillac, 31 Leota, Baldwin, 30 Port Huron, Bad Axe and Alma, 28 Oscoda.    Nice climb, at Noon it’s 59 in G.R., Kalamazoo, Lansing, Big Rapids and Ionia.

Severe weather outlook areas here...rains in the Plains…the risk area for Sunday comes to Lake Michigan.  Texas was the only state with severe weather yesterday.


Frost Advisory

May 13th, 2015 at 8:05 pm by under Bill's Blog, Weather

advisory  The G.R. NWS has issued a Frost Advisory for the entire area (except for the Michigan counties that border Indiana.  The Advisory runs from 2 am to 8 am.  Just like when a tornado warning is issued, a tornado doesn’t affect the entire county…same applies here…there will (IMHO) not be a general frost for everyone.  On a calm, clear night, cold air will settle in low areas, so if you live in a low spot that typically gets colder than the airport readings we give, you might want to cover up any plants or flowers that are frost sensitive.  Keep in mind that the temperatures we give are taken at the 5 foot (eye) level.  It can be up to 5 degrees colder right at the ground.  I’m going for a low of 38 in G.R. overnight.  I think the orchards (typically on higher ground were cold air can “drain away” on a calm, clear night) will be OK tonight.  Also, it can get pretty cold in some lakeshore areas on a night like this.  The chilly lake breeze means areas near Lake Michigan will be colder to start.  At 8 pm, the temperature is 58 in G.R. and Kalamazoo, but only 46 on the beach at Muskegon and Holland.  The Benton Harbor Airport has 47.  BTW, we may also flirt with some scattered frost in low spots the middle of next week.

3 AM – Temps. going down gradually as planned…42 G.R. & MKG, 47 AZO and BTL where the wind is up around 5-7 mph.  The wind can only increase by daybreak, so I think most areas are safe from frost.  It’s 39 in Big Rapids, 40 in Mt. Pleasant.   Where there will be frost is along Lake Huron where it’ll stay calm longer and where the cool air off the lake gave them a lower start.  At 3 am it’s down to 32 in Bad Axe and Pt. Huron, 33 at Lapeer and Caro.  Up north Grayling and Beaver Is. are also 32.  Those places will have some frost.

Overnight model data:  Dry today, the GFS has an 80% chance of rain late Thurs. night into early Friday, the NAM has an 86% chance of rain then…both models have the rain down by noon and dry weather from Friday PM (to the person who called about the wedding Fri. evening outside…good chance everything will come off without a hitch…well, except you two getting hitched, of course).  High temps. the next three days:   GFS = 68/70/80,  NAM = 64/69/80.  Looks like a warm weekend.   Happy Thursday

Also, good pic. of the Guthrie TX tornado (link fixed)…late-season showers and thundershowers on the way for drought-stricken CA kand NVLos Angeles may get more rain Thurs./Fri. than it usually gets all summer!…Winter Storm Warning for 4-10″ snow for the California Sierra Nevada MtnsTyphoon Dolphin moving towards Guam…NYC’s Central Park has received no measurable rainfall in the last 20 days, the longest dry stretch since 2001.   Least snowy winter ever in Anchorage AK.   Boston had more than 4 times as much snow as Anchorage this past winter and G.R. had more than 3 times as much snow as Anchorage.   Northern Lights last night in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Alberta, Canada.  May 1-12 rainfall:  11.16″ Oklahoma City, 6.47″ Wichita Falls TX, 5.03 Corpus Christi TX.  Sunset at Death Valley CA.


Weds. PM

May 13th, 2015 at 2:08 pm by under Bill's Blog, Weather

shn glerl    Here’s an early afternoon pic. from the South Haven GLERL camera (from NOAA Coastwatch).  Note that it’s clear over the colder water and partly cloudy to the right over the land, where the high mid-May sun is causing thermals and cumulus clouds to form.  The clouds will gradually dissipate as very dry air comes in.  That will set us up for a mostly clear night.  The Northern Lights were dimly visible last night (I saw them from Alpine Township – nothing spectacular, but you could see the faint glow.  It was a better show over N. Wisconsin and the U.P.  No frost last night (lows:  38 G.R., 36 Hart, Kent City and Fremont where we had some clearing) with the wind holding up.  Any frost tonight would be quite isolated and limited to a few low spots at best – I think the fruit trees will be fine tonight.  We’re dry tomorrow…chance of showers and a t-shower late Thurs. night into Friday AM…warm and rather humid from Fri. PM to Mon. AM.  Cooler, dry and less humid from Monday evening thru Weds. of next week.  At 2 pm – 54 deg. in G.R., only 45.3 on the beach at Muskegon and 44.4 on the beach at S. Haven.     Here’s a satellite loop (still some ice in eastern Lake Superior).  Here’s current conditions.


Kalamazoo Tornado – 35 Years Ago Today!

May 12th, 2015 at 11:28 pm by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

kalamazoo tornado woodtvkalamazoo tornado twokalamazoo tornado map Click on the images to enlarge – Thirty-five years ago today, an F3 (158-206 mph) tornado cut an 11-mile path from eastern Van Buren right through downtown Kalamazoo. In 20 minutes, the storm left 5 dead and 79 injured. Damage totaled 50 million dollars (that’s 1980 dollars). Three hundred homes and 150 businesses were severely damaged or destroyed.  Video of the tornado here, here, here and here.   There was significant damage to Gilmore’s Dept. Store and dozens of trees were toppled in Bronson Park.   Here’s an overhead picture of the park after the twister.   There’s more information here and  here. Here’s more pictures, and here’s a map of the tornado’s path.  Here’s a pic. and summary from the G.R. NWS.  Four more pics. (including helicopter shots of the damage) here.    Please feel free to share a comment or a link to your pictures of the tornado or its aftermath.


Two Major Earthquakes Today

May 12th, 2015 at 5:48 pm by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

Equake Nepal 7.4    E-Quake Japan Two major e-quakes today.  The first a 7.3 magnitude e-quake in Nepal.  This one was 47 miles east of Kathmandu (the 4/25 earthquake that was magnitude 7.8 was 48 miles west-northwest of Kathmandu).  Today’s quake was 10 miles deep.  It occurred at 12:50 pm local time and 3:05 am EDT.  At least 68 fatalities have been reported, 50 in Nepal, 17 in India and 1 in Tibet.  Over 1,100 have been injured.  The quake was felt as far away as New Delhi, India and Dhaka, Bangladesh.   There have been significant aftershocks, one of magnitude 6.3.   An American Huey helicopter with as many as 8 on board is missing.  The aircraft was involved with disaster relief.

The second quake is preliminary magnitude 6.8 and occurred just off the east coast of the Japanese island of Honshu, 21 miles SE of Ofunato and 256 miles north of Tokyo.  No tsunami is expected.  This earthquake was a fairly deep, 24 mi. under the surface.  The quake occurred at 6:12 am local time and 5:12 pm EDT.  The closest nuclear power facilities reported no problems.

Here’s where you can find a list of all the earthquakes in the last 24 hours that were magnitude 2.5 and above.  It’s definitely been an active day.

Also – waterspout near Galveston this PMWinter Storm Watch for the Sierra Nevada Mts. of California for up to a foot of new snow.  Pretty wet pattern for much of the U.S. – including showers for S. California!   Board embedded in roof - in the Van, TX tornado.  The last major hurricane to strike the U.S. was Wilma in 2005 (longest period of time ever without a major hurricane hit on the U.S.  Winds gusted to 76 mph in Tokyo, Japan as Tropical Storm Noul swept through. Also over 2.0 in of rain.   The “permanent drought” that isn’t.  24-hour rainfall:  7.11″ Corpus Christi TX, 2.00″ McAllen TX, 1.67″ Houston TX, 1.18″ Del Rio TX, 1.70″ Columbia SC, 1.51″ Montpelier VT.   Look where the roof wound up!   An orange roll cloud at sunset.   Incredible lightning in India viewed from outer space.   Barrow, Alaska finally climbed to 33, above freezing for the first time in 2015.

Through 5/12 – the last 5 days we’ve had just 7.8% of possible sunshine…at least a trace of rain on each of the last 5 days and 7 of the last 9 days.   Tuesday was the coolest day since 4/23.   Peak wind gusts Tues:  37 mph Lansing, 35 mph G. Rapids and Battle Creek, 33 mph Charlotte and Mt. Pleasant, 32 mph Alma, 31 mph Jackson.