We have an excellent flyover of the International Space Station tonight at 8:40 pm. Look to the southwest, about halfway up from the horizon (44°). The ISS will appear and move toward you, coming nearly directly overhead…then moving away to the northeast and disappearing into the Earth’s shadow at 11 degrees above the ENE horizon. You’ll be able to see the ISS for about 4 minutes. There are more viewing opportunities coming up, so look at the schedule here. Here’s a link to a map that shows where the space station is right now (takes a little while to open the page). Here’s another tracking map with the position of the sun. The Space Station circles the globe about every 93 minutes. It’s about the size of a football field and flies about 220 miles above the ground, about the distance between Grand Rapids and Indianapolis. Check out www.spaceweather.com for details on auroras, the number of sunspots, asteroid approaches and more. Sky and Telescope’s Sky at a Glance will show you the current position of the moon and planets. You can also get the latest on West Michigan astronomical events from the Grand Rapids Amateur Astronomical Assn. Thanks to Steve Schrier for finding these very cool high res. pics. of Planet Earth.
We’re doing all our newscasts live from Fifth Third Park today and I’ll be out there much of the day and night (through the 11 pm newscast), so I won’t be here on the blog. We still have a chance of an isolated sprinkle or shower, so I’ll leave the radar up. I’ll be throwing out the first pitch (along with a contest winner among those who registered here at www.woodtv.com). It’s been 50 years since I was in Little League and I wasn’t a pitcher, so this should be interesting. I went to the garage to look for my old mitt Sunday afternoon and couldn’t find it. I actually might have given it to the Whitecaps. They recycle mitts for kids. I did go to a nearby park with a couple baseballs. It was muddy, no bases or pitcher’s mound…I tried throwing about a dozen balls…not a pretty sight. I did play 3 years of Little League in Wilmette, Illinois. There wasn’t much for boys to get into back then but Little League and Boy Scouts. We had A – B – C – and D leagues based on ability. The first year I was in D league. We had 20-some kids on a team. You got to bat about once a game and I didn’t get a hit all season…all outs, lots of walks and I remember getting hit by a pitch a couple times. The second year I made C league. I was so embarrassed that I didn’t get a hit the first year that I really practiced with my dad. The first game I went 2 for 4. The third year I moved up to B league and was good enough to make the All Star Game, where I got a bloop double down the right field line. My other big Little League thrill (gotta be a top-ten day of my life) was hitting a grand-slam home run in the 9th to win a game. There was no fence. The center fielder was playing in too short. I hit a long-line drive that sailed over his head and I crossed home plate before the ball was back at 2nd base. Being from the North Side, I was a Cubs fan. (through I knew and can probably still name most of the White Sox from the pennant winning team of ’59). Ernie Banks was not only a great baseball player, but he was so dog-gone happy all the time (“Let’s play two today!”). I wanted to be like him – spreading “happy”. A few years ago, one of my daughters got me an autographed picture of Ernie Banks for Christmas…which I’ve kept up on the mirror in our bedroom ever since. If you see me at the game, say “hi”. I’ll try and update the blog in the early morning of Weds.
The first image is a comparison of snowfall this year compared to average for the Western U.P. Some places up there have had a LOT of snow, over 300″ this winter. The second picture is sunset this weekend from the Muskegon GLERL camera. You can still see some ice beyond the pier. Next, we have a picture from the Alpena GLERL camera, where there is still a solid ice cover as we enter the 2nd week of April. Finally, a weekend sunset at Holland from Phil Rahn. Click on the pictures to enlarge. The highest season snowfall total I could find this (Mon.) evening is 335″ at Mt. Bohemia (24″ in the past week). Snow on the ground: 54″ Delaware, 46″ Calumet, 44″ Mohawk, 43″ Atlantic Mine, 43″ Grand Marais, 37″ Big Bay, 35″ Munising, 32″ Tahquamenon Falls, 30″ Marquette (airport), 25″ S. Ste. Marie, 13″ Detour Village, 12″ nine miles SSW Gaylord, 11″ eleven miles SE Kalkaska.
2 pm update: HUGE temperature contrast, courtesy of Lake Michigan. At 1 pm, it was 57 at the G.R. airport (SE side of town, 52 here at WOOD downtown, 50 in Hudsonville, 48 Fremont and the BEACH temperature at Grand Haven (Bilmar’s) was just 36. The Muskegon GLERL thermometer was 37.9 at 1: 30 pm. So, that’s a 20-degree temperature difference from the beach to 30 miles inland.
We have a relatively mild week, but not super warm. Today’s high of 56° in Grand Rapids was just one degree warmer than average. Combined with a low of 31°, four degrees cooler than average, the average for today is still one degree cooler than average. The slow melt off and the lack of heavy rain has eased (but not ended) the threat of significant flooding here in West Michigan. The GFS model says we could see some snow next week.
Rain struggling to come up into Michigan. Few light showers/sprinkles at 2:45 pm from Berrien Co. to south of Lansing. The bulk of the rain will stay SE of our area. Check out the GRR NWS forecast discussion - looks pretty good to me. We’ll stay dry this AM with rain this afternoon – more southeast than northwest, where there may not be much rain at all north of a line from Grand Haven to Big Rapids. This will be an overall mild week. The average high temperature for Grand Rapids is 55° today. Grand Rapids was 3.2° cooler than average for the first 6 days of April.
Marquette reached 54° on Sunday. The last time they were that warm was Oct. 13 – or 170 days ago (almost half a year!). Look at how the north wind pushed the ice away from the north shore of Lake Superior. Severe weather and flooding rains in the South: Emergency manager reports homes damaged by tornado 5 miles ESE of Mount Olive, Mississippi at 2:10 am CT. Greenville, Alabama had 6.47″ of rain, with 4″ at Jackson MS.
These are the MODIS satellite pictures from Saturday PM for Lake Michigan and the Great Lakes and the last pic. is from WLUC in Marquette, where parts of the U.P. had up to 17″ of snow on Friday (click on the pics. to enlarge). There’s still ice west of our area in Lake Michigan and there was snow on the ground from Newaygo Co. north. You can see the ice breaking up some, but most of Lake Superior, Green Bay and the Straits area still have lots of ice. The average high for Grand Rapids is now mid 50s and I think we can get there today. After a clear and cool start with early morning temps. in the 20s, we’ll see morning sun, then some high clouds arrive from SW to NE ahead of the rain we get on Monday. The Sat. night run of the NAM (caribou) giver G.R. 0.14″ of rain. The most rain will fall to the southeast and the least to the northwest. The NAM (caribou) gives Jackson 0.54″ and Ludington just 0.01″. The European model is similar with 0.17″ for Grand Rapids. There is a Flood Warning out for the Portage River at Vicksburg and there are a number of River Advisories, but no major flooding problems. The NAM would give G.R. mid 40s Tues. and dry for the Whitecaps opener Tues. evening (start time). The European would be upper 40s with a chance of a brief instability shower. The European gives G.R. partly sunny and mid-upper 60s next Saturday. We’ll get another shot at some light rain late Thursday with a weak front. Here’s high temps. for G.R. from the European model beginning today (Sun.): 55, 51, 55, 54, 64, 57, 66 (Sat.) and 70 (Sun)…then we crash into the upper 30s on Monday the 14th (it is April)…so this will be a relatively mild week.
My Badgers came oh-so-close…good game…strange having a #7 and a #8 seed in the final game. Now I won’t be distracted by the game while I’m working Monday evening. It was nice having 3 Big Ten teams in the Elite 8. Severe T-storm and Tornado Risk for the Gulf Coast this PM and for the Southeast on Monday.
Saturday AM Model update: Partly sunny, dry weekend…low-mid 40s Saturday, mid 50s Sunday. Rainfall Monday: NAM (caribou) 0.33″ for G.R., only 0.01″ for Muskegon (sharp NW edge) and 0.46″ in Jackson. The NAM has a couple weak snow showers north of Muskegon Tuesday morning. the GFS (caribou) plot has 0.25″ of rain Monday and a game time temp. of about 43° for the Whitecaps Tues. evening. It also gives G.R. low 60s on Thurs. The GFS plot has 0.17″ for G.R. Monday and 0.06″ on Thursday PM with a high of 59 on Thurs. The European model has 0.21″ for G.R. Monday and another 0.03″ Tuesday. That model is a little warmer on Tuesday with a Whitecaps game-time temp. in the upper 40s. The good news is, no flooding rains and we get another week when the pattern is cool and severe storms stay to our south. Have a good weekend. I’ll be rooting on my alma mater (Wisconsin) in the Final Four. Got a lot of work to do around the house and I’ve got a dinner to go to on Sunday. (pic. from www.uppermichiganssource.com)
This is a picture from the Coast Guard Icebreaker Mackinaw (pic. from Rick Leow, click on the image to enlarge). This is in Thunder Bay, Ontario. The Mackinaw reported ice in the bay up to 40″ thick in March with 12″ of snow on top of that. Lake Michigan/Huron is up one inch in the past month and up 13″ year-to-year. It’s 16″ below the century average. The lake level is expected to come up 4-5″ during the month of April. If it were to go up 5″, the lake would be just 11″ below the long-term average. Lake Superior is up 1″ in the last month and up 15″ in the last year (that’s a lot!). Superior is exactly at the century average. Lake Erie is up 6″ in the last month and is 6″ above the level of one year ago. The lake is 6″ below the century average for April, but is expected to climb 5″ during April. The water level of Lake Ontario is unchanged in the last month and is exactly at the level of one year ago. It’s 12″ below the long-term average (this lake had open water and hence more evaporation), but is expected to climb 8″ during April. The outflow of water from Lake Superior down the St. Mary’s River into Lake Michigan/Huron is expected to be above average during April. The outflow from Lake St. Clair through the Detroit River into Lake Erie is expected to be near average.
Here’s the latest from Ed: “Friday, April 4, 2014, 8:15AM: We saw another Saturday hike, to $3.85. We have a great group of commenters on our site right now, and they have pointed the way to understanding what has been going on with these price hikes lately. As you may have heard on the news, March saw a shortage of ethanol (related to problems in rail service!), and a spike in ethanol prices. Since most retail gas these days is at least 10% ethanol, depending on where you live, this has impacted prices, and it is also messed up my calculations. I have never factored fluctuations in the price of ethanol into my spreadsheet, but I will start doing so when I do my annual spreadsheet upgrade in May. So, what happens this weekend? Ignoring the ethanol issue, prices could fall to $3.50 in Michigan, and we are in the mid $3.60′s right now. If we had the kind of ethanol shortages we had in March, then a hike back to $3.85 is likely in the next few days. I just don’t know, so the safe thing to do is to fill up for $3.65 or less today. — Ed A.
A Wind Advisory will be in effect until 3 am for gusts from the SW to W at 40-45 mph. The cold front is through…gusts to 35 at Lake Michigan and 30 mph inland now (2:30 pm). Winds will pick up behind he front and peak this evening with peak gusts of 30-40 mph. Still a chance of a sprinkle, very light shower and even a few flurries this evening/tonight. We’ll see a quick wind shift from the E-SE to the SW and then W as the front comes thru. Temperatures will fall a bit in the mid-late afternoon. Rain may change to a little light snow (less than 1/2 inch) as the last wraparound band comes thru Fri. night. The morning run of the NAM (caribou) model gives G.R. just 0.1″ of snow and 1.0″ to Cadillac. We’ll become partly to mostly sunny for Saturday PM and with west winds, it’ll be cooler as you get close to Lake Michigan. South winds will send us back into the low-mid 50s Sunday afternoon. We’ll have to watch rainfall totals south of I-94 where the heaviest rain has fallen. Benton Harbor had 1.4″ of rain Thurs., southern Kalamazoo County had 0.9″. As of noon, rainfall since midnight is 0.25″ for G.R., 0.11″ Kalamazoo, 0.13″ Battle Creek, 0.36″ Muskegon, 0.29″ Holland. We’ve noticed rises on the Kalamazoo and St. Joseph Rivers. You can check river levels here.