Bill Steffen

East Coast Blizzard

January 26th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

blizzard watch  At 8 am -   The wind at the airport on Nantucket Island gusted to 78 mph overnight!   Much of the island is without power.   Wind gusts hit 74 mph at Aquinnah MA and 70 mph at Sagmore MA.  Also, 65 mph gust recorded in Charlestown, RI.    The peak wind gust in NYC has been 38 mph. We have not reached blizzard criteria in NYC or New Jersey.  The heaviest snowfall so far is 25″ at Worcester MA.  Boston has had 15″ and NYC reports 11″ at LaGuardia and 8″ at Central Park (hard to measure with the wind and drifting).  They’ve had gusts to 60 mph and up to 25″ of snow on Long Island around Mattituck. Islip reports 21″ of new snow.  Heaviest snow zeroed in on Long Island and  SE MA.   There was one report of thundersnow in SE Mass.    Here’s snow totals  from the New York City/Long Island area, the Boston area and current conditions in the East.   I’m on the LOW side of the snowfall totals for NYC….so, a pretty decent storm, but NOT NEAR the worst storm ever for NYC – it’ll be a little stronger from Long Island to the the MA coast up to the north into SE ME.   The light red color on the map here is the Blizzard Warning for coastal NJ, NY, CT, RI, MA, NH and ME – including New York City and Boston.  It’s from Monday evening through Tuesday PM for 12-30″ of snow plus wind gusts up to 70 mph (mainly at the coast or over the open water).

Here’s the official NWS definition of a blizzard:  “A BLIZZARD WATCH MEANS THERE IS A POTENTIAL FOR CONSIDERABLE FALLING AND/OR BLOWING SNOW WITH SUSTAINED WINDS OR FREQUENT GUSTS OVER 35 MPH AND VISIBILITIES BELOW 1/4 MILE FOR AT LEAST 3 HOURS.”  Note that it’s based on wind and visibility and not a specific amount of snow falling.  You can have a blizzard with a snowfall of one inch and not have a snowstorm with a snowfall of three feet.   NWS says “ALL UNNECESSARY TRAVEL IS DISCOURAGED BEGINNING MONDAY AFTERNOON…LIFE-THREATENING CONDITIONS AND EXTREMELY DANGEROUS TRAVEL DUE TO HEAVY SNOWFALL AND STRONG WINDS…WITH WHITEOUT CONDITIONS. SECONDARY AND TERTIARY ROADS MAY BECOME IMPASSABLE. STRONG WINDS MAY DOWN POWER LINES AND TREE LIMBS.”   Here’s a NWS PowerPoint on the coming storm.  Flurries down to N. Georgia.   Here’s New York City radar.    There’s a Hurricane Force Wind Warning for gusts to 70 knots (80 mph) and 25 foot waves.   Here’s a southern New England weather map and some current weather observations.  United Airlines cancels all Tuesday flights at Newark, JFK, LaGuardia, Boston and Philadelphia.  Cold shot follows blizzard.   This storm will not be quite the catastrophe as the Blizzard of 1888.  NYC has 1,806 plows and more than 126,000 tons of salt.  I hope Bill Nye reads this link.

 

Elsewhere…rain showers for much of Southern California.  You can follow on SW radar.  Gust to 59 mph from severe t-storm in Tuscaloosa AL.  Double rainbow in Jasper AL.   Sunshine and 40 below zero at Fairbanks (low sun angle near noon).

The early Monday overnight GFS-plot shows 0.31″ of precipitation for G.R. (mainly or all snow) for Weds. night/Thurs. AM and another 0.09″ for Sat. PM/night (all snow).  The GFS (car) gives G.R. 3.3″ of snow mainly Weds. night.   The European isn’t in yet…and I’m tired and hitting the sack – more in the AM.   Pretty cold start to this Monday…some single figures and below zero temps. (mainly northern Lower MI) this morning.


The Blizzard of Jan. 26, 1978

January 26th, 2015 at 1:29 am by under Bill's Blog, Weather

<–click map to enlarge. Today is Blizzard Anniversary Day (37th anniversary of the Blizzard of ’78 and 48th anniversary of the Blizzard of ’67 – see thread below). The Blizzard of 1978 ranks as the #1 snowstorm ever for Grand Rapids and much of Lower Michigan, Indiana and Ohio. The barometer reading of 28.28″ in Cleveland still ranks as the lowest non-hurricane barometer reading in U.S. history. Sarnia, Ontario reported a barometer of 28.21″ and Grand Rapids also set a record barometer reading 28.68″. Grand Rapids had 15″ of snow in about 15 hours (19.2 total). Muskegon picked up 52″ of snow in 4 days. The Traverse City area had up to 28″. Houghton Lake and Indianapolis had over 15″ of snow and Lansing recorded over 19″. South Bend recorded a four-day total of 36″. Wind gusts of 42 mph blew the snow off roofs (a good thing). Wind gusts in Ohio topped 80 mph. The storm hit on a Wednesday Night, and many schools didn’t reopen until the following Monday. The heavy snow started shortly after 10 PM on 1/25. I measured a snow drift 14-feet high. Drifts in Ohio reached 20-feet. The entire Ohio turnpike was closed as was most of I-75 through Lower Michigan and Ohio. All air and rail service came to a halt. I was at the TV station for 3 days without leaving. One news anchor came to work on a snowmobile. For you weather junkies…this storm deepened 40 millibars in 24-hours – we call that “bombogenesis”. Seventy deaths were blamed on the storm, including 51 in Ohio. At least 22 people in Ohio died outside while struggling through the blizzard. Another 13 people were found dead in stuck cars, and 13 died in unheated homes. The National Guard were called out in Michigan and Ohio and the University of Michigan closed for the first time in 140 years. Over 125.000 vehicles were abandoned in the storm. It took 3 to 5 days to move the abandoned cars and open the expressways. After this, we had the coldest February ever in G.R. and the 5th coldest March. Snow piles from the storm lingered into April. Read more about the storm here in Michigan, in Ohio, cool pictures and more here. Here’s the governor of Ohio’s voice with a little film. Here’s some eyewitness accounts from West Michigan and video of a newscast from Cleveland. Mark sent a link to pics. from Breckenridge. Here’s write-up on the storm from the NWS in Detroit. Leave a comment if you have a memory of the big storm. Here’s Local Snowfall Amounts from the GRR NWS. This thread has been moved up from last year. Also, here’s TIME MAGAZINE’S top ten blizzards of all time. Here’s a nice YouTube video of storm pics.   More from NWS on the Blizzard of ’78.


Blizzard of Jan. 26, 1967

January 26th, 2015 at 1:25 am by under Bill's Blog, Weather

<–abandoned cars and buses on Lake Shore Drive in downtown Chicago. I was in high school (New Trier East) and living in Wilmette, Illinois during the blizzard of ’67. The storm hit on Jan. 26, 1967. Outside of the snow, my best memory is some kid driving around the high school in the blizzard with his convertible top down and everyone pelting him with snowballs, filling the convertible with snow. A week before the storm, the temperature fell to -8 in Chicago. Then, two days before the big snow, the temperature hit 65.  At 9 PM on 1/24, it was still 60 degrees and we were under a severe t-storm watch! I remember I was at a meeting of the St. Joseph teen club and I wanted to be outside watching the storm come through. Winds hit 48 mph at Midway Airport, funnel clouds were sighted and one person was killed (four injured) when winds blew down a wall at a construction site. I remember measuring 29″ of new snow in Wilmette (a little boost from Lake Michigan) along with 6-foot drifts. An estimated 50,000 cars and 1100 buses were abandoned in the storm. A total of 273 people were arrested for looting on the south and near-west sides of the city. Officially, Chicago had 23″ of snow in 29 hours. Here’s home movies after the storm, and more video. That storm also hit West Michigan with very heavy snow, severe drifting and of course, lots of school closings.   More on the Blizzard of ’67 from the Chicago Tribune.


Sunday

January 24th, 2015 at 7:20 pm by under Bill's Blog, Weather

    The snow is all south of I-94, with the excepting of some lake-effect snow coming off Lake Huron with a northeast wind near Oscoda.  The temperature has dropped from the mid 30s at midnight to the low 20s now (wind chill at 3 am in G.R. down to +8).  I’m starting to look at weather data and will start a thread for the East Coast Blizzard soon.   If you’re missing Sunday football…the Pro-Bowl is at 8 pm tonight on ESPN from Arizona (not Hawaii).  It’s strange trying to put a team together with just a few practices against a team that you have no video of.  With nothing much on the line, it’s basically just “don’t get hurt” for the players.   Happy Sunday!

Here’s Grand Rapids radar and Northern Michigan radar, NAM model 3-day snowfall forecast and GFS model 5-day snowfall forecast (totals increased on the Sat. overnight model run). Storm Total Snowfall will show the heaviest snow and Milwaukee looping radar. Regional radar and the Updated GRR NWS Short Term Discussion. More links: Grand Rapids radar, Northern Indian 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


“Mr. Sunshine”, R.I.P.

January 24th, 2015 at 1:45 am by under Bill's Blog, Sports, Weather

ernie banks   Like Linus waiting for the Great Pumpkin, those of us who grew up on the north side of Chicago waited for the Chicago Cubs to win a World Series.  The Cubs last won a World Series in 1908, four years before Arizona and New Mexico became states!  Every summer we went to that pumpkin patch called the “Friendly Confines”.  My father first took me there in the late 50s.  I saw the ivy-covered outfield walls, the big scoreboard in center field and I saw the players I watched on TV.    Back then we watched Jack (“Hey! Hey! Ernie!) Brickhouse (who lived about a mile and a half from me in Wilmette – I used to ride my bicycle out past his house hoping to see him) and Vince Lloyd on our black-and-white TVs (and raced to Walgreens to test the tubes in the TV when the TV stopped working) and we listened to Jack Quinlan and Lou Boudreau on our new transistor radios.  Anyone remember this song(more…)


GFS overnight model run

January 23rd, 2015 at 4:33 am by under Bill's Blog, Weather

gfs_namer_066_1000_500_thick  gfs_namer_159_1000_500_thick gfs_namer_222_1000_500_thick Quick note…the European model would give G.R. maybe an inch of snow on Sunday, maybe 2″ at the Indiana border…a dusting maybe to Big Rapids…it’s also backing off on snow totals for Sunday. Here are 3 time steps of the GFS model overnight run.  The first is early afternoon Sunday, showing the snow over S. Lower Michigan (a little more snow south than north).  Next is Thursday morning.  The air is warmer here, so a mix of precipitation is likely.  The last map is Saturday evening, showing another batch of snow.   Then it gets pretty cold (496 thickness) for the middle of the following week.       The models have backed off on the snow for Sunday.  The NAM (Car.) now gives G.R. 1.8″, the GFS (Car.) not much of anything with only 1/2″ in Kalamazoo (snow goes mainly south of Michigan).  The Canadian model has also trended a little south.  At this point, I’m waiting on the European data.  It’s just me on Friday’s at work in the PM, so I may not post here again until after the evening news and after I get the internet done.  The GFS has a real Arctic shot for the 2nd to 5th.  Depending on wind direction, there could be some decent lake-effect snow and it looks like synoptic systems can come into play in early Feb.  Stay in your burrow Mr./Ms. Groundhog…just send a fax saying “six more weeks of winter”.


Great Lakes Water Levels

January 23rd, 2015 at 1:22 am by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

Lake Michigan Randy Feister 1 15 15 sunset Pere Mqt. Park Muskegon   Click on the picture to enlarge.  This is a pic. from Randy Feister at Pere Marquette Park in Muskegon.  Thanks, Randy.  The water level of Lake Michigan/Huron is down one inch in the last month, up 21 inches year-to-year and 8″ above the long-term January average level.  Lake Superior is down 4″ in the last month.  That’s not surprising since it’s been below freezing and the precipitation is still on the ground and not in the rivers.  Superior is up 9″ in the past year and up 7″ from the century average.  Lake Erie is down 2″ in the last month, up 6″ in the last year and is now 6″ above the average water level.  Lake Ontario is up 4″ in the last month, down 4″ in the last year and one inch above the long-term average.   Lake St. Clair is down 9″ in the last month, up 7″ in the past year and now sits at 3″ above the century average.  We did a story on the unprecedented rise in the Lake Michigan/Huron water level and how it affects marinas and shipping.

Here’s the MODIS Lake Michigan satellite pic. from Thurs. PM.  There was sun north of Milwaukee in E. Wisconsin and it was partly cloudy up by Traverse City.  Here’s the Lake Superior shot – showing sunshine over much of the U.P.   As I write this, we have 34% ice cover on the Great Lakes.  That includes about 19% on Lake Michigan19% on Lake Superior48% on Lake Huron82% ice on Lake Erie (shallowest lake, gets the most ice)…and 22% on Lake Ontario.   They’re ice fishing at the western end of Lake Erie, 8-10″ of ice!   Lighthouse pictures from West MichiganShipwrecks from the mid-1800s found in Lake OntarioIce breaking on the Great Lakes.


Cold and Snow

January 22nd, 2015 at 4:01 am by under Bill's Blog, Weather

gfs_namer_324_1000_500_thick   Click on the image to enlarge.  This is the overnight run of the GFS model for Weds. AM 2/4.  I know it’s a long ways out, but that’s one heavy duty shot of Arctic Air.  The 492 thickness goes down to Tennessee!  We have a 490 thickness here with a very cold north wind.  In the meantime, the few flurries left in the area end this morning…low 30s today.  We are getting a little sun at this time (9:30 am) at my house on the north side of G.R.  We deserve it with less than 3% sun (one hour and 50 minutes) in the last 8 days.  It’s mid-upper 30s Friday and upper 30s to near 40 on Saturday.  Sunday we get about 3-4″ of snow on the GFS and and maybe 2-2 1/2″ on the European.  It’s colder Monday and Tuesday.  If it’s clear and calm under the ridge Tues. AM it could get below zero.  The Euro. says -3 and the GFS has 4 above Tues. AM and 5 above Weds. AM.  We could see another 2-5″ around next Thurs.  The European tells the same story, on Feb. 1 it has the temperature near zero with a 496 thickness and an 850 mb. temp. of -25.9°.  That is really cold air.  Lake-effect snow would be a given with those temps., but wind direction and other factors will determine if it’s heavy and who gets it (with a north wind it may be Berrien and NW Indiana and flake size could be small at those temps.   In any case, lots of winter weather ahead as we start a new month.


Cold Forecast for Early Feb.

January 21st, 2015 at 9:59 pm by under Bill's Blog, Weather

814temp.new   Here’s the 8-14 day outlook from the Climate Prediction Center for Jan. 29 through Feb. 4.  If I’m the groundhog, I’d be thinking about staying my my burrow and sleeping off the Super Bowl Party!  The dark blue means that CPC is pretty darn sure that it’s going to be chilly.  It’s a continuation of the persistent pattern of ridge (warmer than average air) in the West and trough (cooler than average air) east of the Rockies.  Even if the storm track is suppressed to our south and east, we’ll be susceptible to lake-effect snow and an occasional light accumulations from mostly weak disturbances in the northwest flow.  This year winter may not end until the fat snowman sings…or melts.  The GFS model for Feb. 1-6 is showing the Polar Express will be chuggin’ down the track into the Continental U.S. (does South Florida escape the Arctic air again?).  The European model has -40 air centered just north-northeast of Michigan.  Here’s the European showing the path of the clipper snow for Sunday across SW Michigan.

On the other side of the coin – The temperature hit a scorching 117 F in Morawa & Leonora, Australia today.  Volcano explodes in Mexico.   Heavy rain in SE Alaskafollowed by much colder air.   Surfing in Alaska…in January!     Up to a foot of snow for parts of New Mexico, S. Colorado and far NW Texas.   Note the red color on this map…showing the air coming south down the western Gulf of Mexico and squeezing through the mountains out into the Pacific Ocean.  Heckuva carbon footprintCO2 emissions falling in the U.S., falling in Europe, falling in Japan, rising in India, skyrocketing in China.   Snow on the castle in Segovia, SpainTwin waterspouts off of Yeppoon, Australia.   Heckuva snowstorm for the Texas Panhandle – 3″/hour snowfall rates!   Amarillo, Texas has had a foot of snow and still coming!


Thursday – Flurries End

January 21st, 2015 at 12:39 am by under Bill's Blog, Weather

    Still a few flurries in the area this Thursday morning.  Many areas have had a dusting to an inch overnight and that’s enough for some slick spots on the roads.  Total snowfall was 2-3″ from Lansing to Northern Kent and Newaygo Counties…about an inch and a half in Muskegon and Grand Rapids.  Winds have been light, so no drifting and temperatures have fallen to the upper teens to mid 20s overnight.  Where it cleared out it’s down to -5 already at Grayling.  Season snowfall now up to 54.5″ for G.R. and 58.0″ for Muskegon.

Grand Rapids has had 2.6% of possible sunshine over the last 8 days or 1 hour and 50 minutes total sunshine in over a week.  January is still 5° cooler than average.  We have had only 3 days this month without at least a trace of snow.

The state with the most area under a Winter Storm Warning this morning is New Mexico.  Heavy snow extends into NW Texas.  Temperatures hit a scorching 118 F in Carnarvon and 117 F at Shark Bay, Australia

Here’s Grand Rapids radar and Northern Michigan radar, NAM model 3-day snowfall forecast and GFS model 5-day snowfall forecast (totals increased on the Sat. overnight model run). Storm Total Snowfall will show the heaviest snow and Milwaukee looping radar. Regional radar and the Updated GRR NWS Short Term Discussion. More links: Grand Rapids radar, Northern Indian 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