Bill Steffen

Severe Storms – Wind Damage/Severe Hail

April 12th, 2014 at 3:00 am by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

Damage onedamage 2hail muskegon mike schmalz 4 12 14Damage 4 12 14 golf cart boulder creek 2 injured

12:59 am  – Line of storms training along US 10 with heavy rainfall…solid line of storms back to Iowa…bow echo along the Mississippi River will have to be watched.  Serious Flood Situation, esp. for Oceana, Newaygo, Mason, Lake, Osceola, Manistee, Wexford, Clare, and Isabella Counties, perhaps for N. Muskegon, N. Montcalm, Gratiot Counties. 100,356 Consumers Energy customers without power now, inc. 29,426 customers in Muskegon Co (37.0% of the county customers), 4,796 in Ionia Co. (21.3%), 16,166 in Kent Co. (6.0%) and 7,066 in Montcalm Co. (26.5%) and the worst county is Mecosta with 77.3% of the county without power (12,097 customers).  Gust to 56 mph at Big Rapids.  Flood WARNINGS now for Newaygo, Oceana, Muskegon, Montcalm, Mecosta, Isabella and Gratiot Counties after 2″ of rain…an additional +2″ of rain is possible by Monday AM.  At midnight, the front is along I-94.   Here’s Kyle Piers video – driving in the hail late PM near Cedar Springs.   2″ hail reports from Wisconsin and Iowa – storms moving east.   Hail to nearly 1″ in Hesperia.  Here’s regional radar…storm go all the way back into Iowa.   The storms have knocked the front down to S. Allegan and S. Barry Counties…at 10 pm the temperature is 70 at Kalamazoo, 48 in Grand Rapids, 72 at O’Hare in Chicago, 44 at Milwaukee – pretty easy to find the surface front.   Pics. on the left- a building that looks like it has been destroyed in Grant and a plane and building damage – from Lili Cruz – a golfball-sized hailstone from Mike Schmalz in Muskegon – and the golf cart at Boulder Creek that got hit by a falling tree.  Those guys were lucky they are still on this side of the divots.   Click on the pictures to enlarge.   – serious “training” of storms tonight along US 10 could produce severe  flooding.

Storm Reports:   5:27 PM TSTM WND GUST SPARTA  911 CALL CENTER LOCAL AND STATE POLICE HAVE ESTIMATED WIND GUSTS TO BE AT LEAST 80 MPH.  Semi blown over in Muskegon.   Multiple roofs of and partially damaged in Muskegon and S. Newaygo Counties.    Grant [Newaygo Co, MI] law enforcement reports TSTM WND DMG at 04:10 PM EDT — roofs off multiple structures with campers blown over.  Local Storm Report by NWS GRR: Kent City [Kent Co, MI] 911 call center reports TSTM WND DMG at 05:26 PM EDT — local Ford dealer in Kent Co. has suffered severe roof damage.   A TRAILER AND LOG CABIN HAVE LOST THEIR ROOF WHILE A BARN SUFFERED HEAVY DAMAGE.   From GRR NWS chat: Had a report from a lady between Sand Lake and Cedar Springs a few minutes ago of a 75 mph wind gust on her Davis Weather station.  Gust to 55 mph on Kuttshill in south Rockford.  Measured gust to 65 mph in Rockford – Eaglecraft Mobile Home Park – 18″ pine tree uprooted healthy, 8″ healthy large branch down, multiple pine trees uprooted in area.      If you have pics. of hail, damage send them to WOOD at ReportIt.   Several reports of pea-marble sized hail north of Whitehall/Montague.   Severe T-Storm Watch coming for IA, WI, IL.   Leave a comment if you get some hail.    There were severe t-storm warnings for the NE corner of Illinois for large hail.  Hail pics. here.    Those storms produced LOTS of severe criteria hail – up to the side of eggs (2″ in diameter!).  Check out more hail pictures here and here.  The storms also produced a 55 mph wind gust NW of Chicago at the town of Harvard.  Here’s all of today’s severe weather reports from SPC.    Radar here.  WOOD Lightning tracker here.    Any surface-based thunderstorms will weaken (though probably not die out completely) as they come out over Lake Michigan.  Elevated storms don’t care what’s underneath them…they’ll chug across the lake without skipping a beat.   We made 71° officially in G.R.   Much colder north of the warm front.   At 2 pm Sat. it was 35° with a stiff east wind on Mackinac Island.  Nice to be home, where I can spend more time on the blog…if and when I’m at work…I’m doing TV and won’t be able to update very often.

From Blythefield Country Club on Northland Dr. just north of West River Dr. “The golf course will be closed tomorrow due to extensive tree damage and debris from this evening’s strong storms and wind.  We lost several large trees not only on the course but around the clubhouse as well. Straight line winds have been reported at more than 85 miles per hour and uprooted these trees. The power is still out at the club.”

Another huge earthquake:   USGS just downgraded e-quake to 7.6 – still big.   67 miles SSE of Kirakira, Solomon Islands, the USGS reports.  .  Tsunami warning area reduced to Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea.

Overnight models print out some very serious rainfall totals.  The morning run of the European model gives G.R. 0.62″ of rain this evening (that may be overdone), then 2″ of rain from Sunday into Monday, then 1 to 1 1/2″ of snow Monday night, then more rain Thurs. night into Friday night.  The model also gives Ludington 3.85″ of rain, then half an inch of snow as it ends.  The models have been consistent in forecasting the very heavy rainfall and with it the prospect of significant flooding.

Also:  SURF’S UP!    and….Airbus wins weather satellite contract valued at millions of euros.

 


Flood Watch

April 11th, 2014 at 9:39 pm by under Bill's Blog, Weather

Advisory  qpf Click on the graphics to enlarge.   A Flood Watch (see graphic on the left) will be in effect from late Saturday afternoon through Monday.  Look at the graphic on the right.  I hope that’s way overdone, but the forecast here from NOAA shows up to 4.7″ of rain for Central Michigan over a 72-hour period.  There are also Flood Advisories in effect for the Grand River at Ionia, the Looking Glass River at Eagle and the Muskegon River at Evart.  The Grand Rapids National Weather Service says:  “BY MIDDAY MONDAY…ONE TO POSSIBLY THREE INCHES OF RAIN MAY FALL ACROSS THE WATCH AREA.”  River levels are already high and we expect runoff rates to be a little higher than average.  We anticipate that rainfall of 1″ could cause minor flooding issues, while a rainfall of 2 1/2 – 3″ would cause moderate flooding.  Here’s where you can check area river levels.  Here’s the complete write-up/forecast from the GRR NWS.       We’ve been very lucky to escape the snowmelt without heavy rain.  Since March 1st, Grand Rapids has had 2.10″ of precipitation.  That’s 1.34″ below average or 61% of average.

Also:  Space Station transit across the moon…So far, no reports of deaths or injures as Cyclone Ita came onshore in Australiaenhanced satellite pic. of Itawaterfalls of water and ice in Minnesotaa pretty sunset in New York Citymagnitude 6.6 earthquake in Nicaraguacherry blossoms in D.C.


Ice at the Lake – Warm Weekend

April 11th, 2014 at 12:42 pm by under Bill's Blog, Weather

modis lake michigan  muskegon glerl twomuskegon glerl lake michigan ice If you are along the lakeshore north of S. Haven and south of Whitehall – you may be looking out and seeing ice on Lake Michigan. The ice cover on Lake Michigan this (Fri.) morning was at 23% and for the entire Great Lakes, we were at 48% on Thursday.  As far as I can tell, those are both records for this late in the season.  The first picture here is Weds. from NOAA/COASTWATCH and you can see where the ice is along the shore (and also over Green Bay and the far north part of the lake).  The next two pictures (from NOAA GLERL) are at the Muskegon Channel from this (Fri.) morning.  The last image is the ice extent on the lake (from NOAA GLERL).  At noon it was in the low 60s inland and low 40s at the Lake Michigan shoreline.

New data starting to come in…there is a chance of a light shower/sprinkle north of Kent Co. tonight – most of us stay dry.  Most of Saturday will be dry.  The NAM has rain starting in G.R. (and points north and west) in the early evening.  On the NAM (car.) G.R. gets 0.35″ Sat. night.  Cadillac gets 0.74″.   While we continue the chance of showers or a thundershower on Sun. there may be more hours without rain than with rain.  On the NAM (car.) the cold front comes thru Sunday night.  After highs in the mid 60s to low 70s Sat./Sun. it’s back to 40° Monday AM and holds there most of the day.  The NAM (car.) has an additional 1.11″ of rain for G.R. and it’s rain.  Cadillac gets a dusting of snow, but most of the area gets trace amounts or nothing.


Happy Retirement John Coleman

April 11th, 2014 at 2:31 am by under Bill's Blog, Weather

john coleman one   john coleman two John Coleman retired yesterday from KUSI in San Diego.  He’s a few months shy of 80 years old and has been in the broadcasting business for 61 years (the last 20 years in San Diego).  Many of you remember him as the first weatherman on Good Morning America, starting in 1975. He was also a founder of the Weather Channel.   The picture shows him on the left as part of the news team of WLS in Chicago in the early 1970s (with Fahey Flynn – who always wore bow ties), Joel Daly, John Drury and Bill Frink.  I grew up in Chicago.  I remember John riding a tricycle the entire length of the big Fourth of July Parade in Evanston (my home town).  I first met John at my first American Meteorological Society Conference in Toronto in early 1976.  I was so excited to get to the conference that I was the first meteorologist to arrive for the evening dinner the first night.  John was 2nd and came over and introduced himself.  He was  telling everyone who would listen about his idea of having a live 24-hour weather channel.   He was gregarious, witty and friendly as the West Texas High Plains where he grew up.   On rare occasion, I would call him at GMA and let him know about an interesting weather event in West Michigan.  One day after an Alberta Clipper dropped 9″ of snow on Grand Rapids, he came out on GMA with a golden snow shovel and “awarded it” to “Grand Rapids and Bill Steffen”.  I think the Golden Snow Shovel is still in the garage.  (click on the images to enlarge – first image from Wikipedia – second from John’s facebook page)


Palm Sunday Tornado Anniversary

April 11th, 2014 at 1:20 am by under Bill's Blog, Weather

  Today is the 49th anniversary of the famous Palm Sunday tornado outbreak of April 11, 1965. It was the second-biggest tornado outbreak in world history. This is a picture of a rare double-tornado near Elkhart, Indiana. This twin-tornado moved into the Midwest Trailer Park, where 33 people lost their lives. There were 271 fatalities that day and 1500 were injured. 47 tornadoes were reported in five states, including 12 in Michigan. An F4 tornado moved from Ottawa Co. near Allendale through Walker and Comstock Park (crossing Alpine Ave. near Six Mile Road. The 21-mile long twister caused 5 fatalities and 142 injuries. That tornado crossed the path of the 1956 Standale Tornado on Samrick just north of West River Dr in Comstock Park. Two F4 tornadoes struck Branch and Hillsdale Counties 30 minutes apart with 21 lives lost. The twisters moved across Coldwater Lake, Devils Lake, Manitou Beach and Baw Beese Lake destroying hundreds of cottages and homes. A wind instrument near Tecumseh measured a wind of 151 mph in the 2nd tornado. The loss of life would have been much worse, but for the fact that it was still too early for the summer influx of cottage owners and the fact that many residents had left for evening Palm Sunday church services. An F4 tornado north of Lansing left one person dead and there was a tornado fatality near Middleville in Barry Co. Other tornadoes that day hit north of Kalamazoo (17 injured there), near Hastings, Bay City, Unionville and 2 tornadoes struck Alma. After this event, the Weather Bureau began the Watch/Warning system that is still in use today. Read more here, here, and here. That year we had record snowfall and it was quite cold in March.  Please leave a comment if you have a personal story to tell about that dreadful Sunday. Final note: Here’s a radar loop of the storms that produced the hail from Holland and S. Haven east across Lower Michigan last Tuesday (4/6/2010). Hail up to golfball sized fell. This thread has been moved up from last year and new comments start with #18.


Great Lakes Water Levels

April 10th, 2014 at 8:03 pm by under Bill's Blog, Weather

muskegon glerl    Click on the picture (from the Muskegon NOAA/GLERL cam.) taken today.  If you look beyond the breakwaters, you can see ice.  The wind coming off the water sure made a difference today.  While Grand Rapids reached 66° today (warmest since last Oct. 12) and Kalamazoo topped out at 68°, the GLERL weather station here at the beach at Muskegon could muster only a high of 41.6°.

The latest data from the Army Corps of Engineers shows that Lake Michigan/Huron is up 2″ in the last month and up 11″ in the last year.  The lake is still 16″ below the century average (dredging the St. Clair River has been a factor).   Lake Superior is up 1″ in the past month (and should see a bump up with the snowmelt over the next 3 weeks) and is unchanged from one month ago.  Superior is exactly at the century average.  Lake St. Clair is up 9″ in the last month and is 8″ higher than one year ago.   Lake Erie is also up 9″ in the last month and up 7″ year-to-year.  Erie is 2″ below the long-term average.  Lake Ontario is up 7″ in the last month, up 3″ year-to-year, but still down 6″ from average.

16 dredging projects planned for the Great Lakes – including Holland and Grand Haven.   Harsh winter reveals Lake Michigan shipwreck.  A couple years old, but some interesting snow pics. here.   Here’s the MODIS satellite picture of Lake Superior from today (4/10) – still a lot of ice out there.

 

 


Dry Friday and at last part of Saturday

April 10th, 2014 at 2:21 am by under Bill's Blog, Weather

Local  We’ll stay dry today (Fri.) and at least part of Saturday.  We could catch a shower Saturday PM.   The more significant showers (and thundershowers) begin Sat. night and from Sat. PM thru Monday, the GFS plot gives G.R. 2.33″ of rain.  The European prints out 2.58″ – so both models have quite a soaking.  This will cause some flooding, from ponding of water to small streams to the bigger rivers approaching flood stage in places next week.  There could be a little snow as the precipitation ends Monday and we could see a period of light snow at some point Tues. PM thru Weds. PM., but it wouldn’t be much.   Global Sea Ice Extent is 1,053,000 square km. above the 1981-2010 mean.

The El Nino is coming on…if it turns out to be stronger and centered closer to S. America, that would give us a warmer winter next year….weaker and centered more toward the Central Pacific might very well give us another cold and/or snowy winter – though it’ll be hard top this winter…however we had a combination like that in the late 70s.  In any case, it should mean more rainfall for California next winter than this winter.  It’ll be interesting to see if the El Nino is a one and done or if it hangs around for a couple years.  The water is quite warm along the African to Caribbean hurricane track, but El Ninos don’t tend to favor very active hurricane seasons.  We’ve gone the longest period of time ever without a major (category 3 or higher) hurricane hit on the U.S.).  In the meantime, a strong hurricane is approaching Queensland, Australia.  Here’s a satellite pic. of the storm.   Frying birds with solar energy (and this place gets 1.6 BILLION dollars in U.S. loan guarantees!  I’m still waiting to see that first polar bear that’s died from “global warming”.   Storm approaching a field of bluebonnets in Texas.   The U.S. (48 states) was 10° warmer than average on WedsThis was the Sunday storm on the Weds. AM GFS (scary for both snow and potential flooding).   Cherry blossoms in bloom at sunset in Washington D.C.

Links: Grand Rapids radar, Northern Indiana radar, Chicago radar, Detroit radar and Milwaukee radar. Here’s regional radar, the College of DuPage Radar Map (pick any radar in the U.S.), College of DuPage Grand Rapids radar, GFS snowfall for the next 120 hours and NAM model snowfall for the next 84 hours. the West Michigan Lightning Tracker, National Lightning Tracker, the local warning/advisory map and the National warning/watch/advisory map, and 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. Check out Storm Total Precipitation (until they reset it). 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 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, the weather station at Manistee Harbor 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). Check out the webcam at Krupp’s Resort, where they are pushing toward 3 feet of snow on the ground. Check out the the U.S. Low Temperature map. Here’s a live look at the Houghton Bridge. Here’s the Consumers Energy Power Outage Map. We continue to watch for ice jams on Michigan rivers. Here’s any Closings.


Great Lakes Ice Update

April 10th, 2014 at 1:30 am by under Bill's Blog, Weather

Great Lakes Ice 3   Great lakes Ice 2  Great Lakes Ice One Click on the images to enlarge.  We have never had this much ice on the Great Lakes in the 2nd week of April.  The first image is from Coastwatch and shows a 54.8% ice coverage on the Great Lakes.   Here’s the graph of ice this winter on Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Superior, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. Here’s the GLERL ice analysis for the Great Lakes and for Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Superior, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.   You can check Michigan river levels here.   Most river levels in Southern Lower Michigan are well above average flow.  Here’s an example, the Grand River at Ionia.  Here’s current Flood Advisories.  Here’s HPC’s total rainfall forecast for the next 7 days.


ISS Flyover Tonight

April 9th, 2014 at 1:53 am by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

International Space Station    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.

Also, Mars is (relatively) very close to Earth now, and easy to spot as it moves across the sky from east to west during the night.  Venus is a bright, early morning “star”.  Here’s This Week’s Sky at a Glance.

Death Valley hit the 100-degree mark on Tuesday for the first time since September 25, 2013.  Heavy rains soak the Southern U.S.  This is the first year on record (since 1950) in which there was not an EF3+/F3+ tornado prior to April 9 in the US.  Global sea ice area 6th highest on record for the date, 11,000 Manhattans above normalRed Sprites!

Also…check this out…How Deep is the Black Box (which is really orange).


Tuesday – Whitecaps Opening Game

April 8th, 2014 at 1:39 am by under Bill's Blog, Weather

Local   whitcaps logo 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.

Links: Grand Rapids radar, Northern Indiana radar, Chicago radar, Detroit radar and Milwaukee radar. Here’s regional radar, the College of DuPage Radar Map (pick any radar in the U.S.), College of DuPage Grand Rapids radar, GFS snowfall for the next 120 hours and NAM model snowfall for the next 84 hours. the West Michigan Lightning Tracker, National Lightning Tracker, the local warning/advisory map and the National warning/watch/advisory map, and 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. Check out Storm Total Precipitation (until they reset it). 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 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, the weather station at Manistee Harbor 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). Check out the webcam at Krupp’s Resort, where they are pushing toward 3 feet of snow on the ground. Check out the the U.S. Low Temperature map.  Here’s a live look at the Houghton Bridge. Here’s the Consumers Energy Power Outage Map. We continue to watch for ice jams on Michigan rivers. Here’s any Closings.