Inside WOOD TV8

Waterspout(s) on Lake Michigan

July 19th, 2009 at 12:43 pm by under Bill's Blog, Inside WOOD TV8, News, Weather

waterspout-port-sheldon-1115-am-7-19-09 waterspout-port-sheldon-1116-am-7-19-09<–2nd picture (one of many) from Steve Geerlings at the Yacht Basin Marina taken around 11:15 AM.  1st picture off of Port Sheldon taken by Margi Smith and Sharon Barkwell.   At least one waterspout was reported - we had pictures/emails from both Holland and W. Olive.  It’s unstable…we’re getting showers – upper level disturbance helping out with the cold pool aloft.  It’s not hard to get small hail in a situation like this.  Leave a comment and let us know what’s happened in your area.  Here’s more on Great Lakes waterspouts.  Here’s a live picture of the lake off Holland showing the Holland Channel looking southwest from Spyglass Condos.  Here’s pictures of a large waterspout off Holland on 9/29/06.  Here’s a live picture of the Grand Haven Channel and a live picture of the beach at Grand Haven.  Here’s GRR looping radar, Northern Indiana radar, Lightning Loop, and the U.S. surface map.  Here’s the current visible satellite loop (day), infrared satellite loop (night) and current Michigan surface observations.  Side note:  At least 26 people have been killed as heavy monsoon rains (6″ just on Saturday) hit Karachi, Pakistan.

Weekend Weather Wrap-up

July 16th, 2009 at 9:57 pm by under Bill's Blog, Inside WOOD TV8, Weather

<–This is current radar.  Sunday Night – skies are clearing.  I sat outside after sunset sipping some limeaid while I chatted with my mother on the phone.  You could still see some “build-ups” where a few sprinkles were occurring up near Big Rapids.   The warming trend starts Monday with temps. recovering to near normal.   GRR is now more than 5 deg. cooler than average for July.   Upper 40s ‘Saturday AM in Lansing, Ionia, Belding, Hart, White Cloud, Big Rapids, Baldwin and Clarksville…44 in Bloomingdale, 38 at Leota – the normally cold spot north of Mt. Pleasant  Here’s the current visible satellite loop (day), infrared satellite loop (night) and current Michigan surface observations.    GRR had a high temperature of 67° on Friday making Friday the coolest July 17 ever (crushing the previous record low maximum temperature of 71° set in 1937).   This is traditionally the hottest week of the summer, and the weather map for the Great Lakes looks like mid-late September.  Churchill up on the still frozen Hudson Bay has been nearly 6° cooler than average in the past week.  Average high temperatures there are in the low 60s.  The high on 7/10 at Churchill was only 39° and the high on the 15th was 42°.  Here’s GRR looping radar, Northern Indiana radar, Lightning Loop, and the U.S. surface map.    At 10 PM Sat. Night the eastern Lake Superior buoy shows an air temp. of 44.2°- and a water temp. of 39.6°.   Those are cold numbers for mid-July.  Side note:  Check out the smashed cars after torrential rains/mudslide near Busan, Korea.  Friday it was hot around the W-S-SE perimeter of the U.S.  It was 89° in Seattle, 95° in Portland, 126° at Death Valley, CA, Palm Springs made 118°…Phoenix had a high of 114° and a low of 93°.  Laredo, TX reached 108° (it’s been a hot summer in south Texas) and 101° in Brighton, FL.  Fairbanks, Alaska was 77°, ten degrees warmer than Grand Rapids.  Barrow, AK had a relatively mild 50°, and that was only 4° cooler than Grand Marais, MI.

Much needed rain Saturday AM.

July 11th, 2009 at 4:11 am by under Bill's Blog, Inside WOOD TV8, Uncategorized, Weather

Saturday midday -   We needed the rain!  It was quite variable.  GRR had 1.35″ and Battle Creek had 0.01″.  Holland got 0.43″, Muskegon 0.22”, Ionia had a little over an inch, Kalamazoo only 0.11″.  Now we get mostly sunny to partly cloudy skies for Sat. afternoon thru Tuesday.     We’ve had two straight days with a south wind and STILL couldn’t get the high temperature above average (81 on Friday – average is 82).     The overall pattern (the theme of the summer) is for a little cooler than average and drier (notwithstanding June 19) than average weather.  Officially in G.R. up until this morning, we’ve had only a trace of rain since 7/1 and only 0.15″ in the last 11 days.  Here’s GRR NWS radar, Great Lakes radar, latest surface observations, lightning dataGRR NWS discussion, Visible Satellite loop (daytime), Infrared Satellite Loop (night), Lake Michigan webcam at Holland.  Enjoy the weekend and the week ahead.

Gas Prices Going Down

July 7th, 2009 at 9:45 am by under Bill's Blog, Inside WOOD TV8, News, Weather

gas-prices The latest from Ed and Bill:  “Monday, July 6, 2009, 6:30PM: Wholesale prices have dropped significantly in the past week. With Monday’s close, I have the 0-cent margin price at a pretty $2.25. So, unless there is a dramatic reversal on NYMEX the next few days, the prediction is lower prices.

The Switch Goes Off Without A Hitch

June 12th, 2009 at 11:24 am by under Inside WOOD TV8, News

digital-switchWe just witnessed broadcast television history.  Our station, the first to go on the air in West Michigan, just marked another milestone.  In 1949, when we started broadcasting, it was with the analog signal.  Today, we just shut off that signal and from now on, we will broadcast in digital only.  From our end, at our transmitters, the switch went off without a hitch. 

In the photo to the left, I’m interviewing our Chief Engineer, Mike Laemers moments after the switch. See the screen by me…it’s snowy.  That’s what tv sets look like if owners did not take the steps to go digital.  The screen by Mike shows the digital signal.

Ten years ago, we became the first television station in the market to start broadcasting in High Definition.  We’ve been putting out a digital signal for a decade.  Now that is the only signal high-powered television stations in this country can broadcast in, so mandated by federal law.  The old analog channels don’t die.  They’re going to be auctioned off and will wind up being used by emergency personnel and phone/cell/internet coompanies.  The feds will glean a good deal of money from the sale, money obviously this nation can use.

I just ran up to the engineering office at WOOD-TV-8.  The phones are ringing off the wall.  As soon as staff answers questions about why viewers aren’t seeing a picture on their screen, the next call comes in.

We have a toll-free number (1-877-FYI ASK8) and viewers are leaving  messages with questions.  We have engineers retrieving those messages and calling back to problem-solve.

I overheard our Chief Engineer, Mike Laemers, talk a viewer through the transition from analog to digital.  When the viewer pulled in our signal and saw something on the screen, Laemers commented, “Isn’t that great?  Isn’t it wonderful, digital?”  The viewer responded that the channel was going to stay right on WOOD-TV- 8 through the Red Wings Game tonight and wouldn’t let anybody change it.  That game begins at 8pm, by the way.  We’ll all be watching too, and we’ll undoubtedly have a late 11pm newscast.

For the Red Wings game, our crews will be Live on the ice recording all the action.  My co-anchor Brian Sterling will be there as well as one of our sports anchors, Larry Figurski.  That will be great to see… tune in for 24-Hour News 8 at 5 and 6 and 10 and then stay with the game through the end.  At 11ish, 11:30ish, we’ll have great highlights, interviews, hoopla, reaction.  Here’s to a RED WINGS WIN.  STANLEY CUP, HERE THEY COME.  And now, everyone will be able to watch it in DIGITAL T.V.  ENJOY!

Thursday Rain

June 11th, 2009 at 10:42 am by under Bill's Blog, Inside WOOD TV8, Weather
Live Doppler Network Radar There was a measured spotter rainfall total of 4.23″ just 3 NW of South Bend, IN…including nearly 2″ in an hour.  They had a water more than a foot deep on a couple roads down there.  Roads were closed and there were some cars stalled.  M-40 flooded in Cass Co. and there was some street flooding in Sturgis.  Other totals:  1.82 at Niles in Berrien Co., 1.13″ in Hartford in Van Buren Co., 0.56″ at Jackson, 0.48″ in Albion, 0.35″ at Kalamazoo, 0.21″ in Battle Creek, 0.20″ at the Ford Airport in G.R., 0.10″ in Holland, 0.08″ in Muskegon, and just a trace in Lansing. Check out the visible satellite loop (daytime), current Michigan weather observations, the latest Grand Rapids NWS discussion, Grand Rapids NWS radar, Great Lakes radar, national radar.    In the last 15 days, we have only had one day that was warmer than average and the month of June is now 3.7 deg. cooler than average in G.R. and 8.4 deg. cooler than average in Ludington.

BIG storms

June 10th, 2009 at 10:33 pm by under Bill's Blog, Inside WOOD TV8, Weather

IMG00026.jpg <–almost baseball-sized hail from near Dallas, TX late Wednesday afternoon.  They are getting nailed across parts of Missouri, Arkansas and NE Texas.  I see Plano, TX had a gust to 78 mph and there were a couple of measured 70-75 mph gusts.  We’re recorded a dozen tornadoes and significant flooding.  Two awesome bowing segments now…one in northern Arkansas and another in NE Texas.  A new watch is possible into central Indiana.  I think the big storms stay south of us…a few scattered showers are likely tomorrow here in southern Lower Michigan.  The afternoon GFS was more bullish on rain…giving Grand Rapids a 74% chance of rain and Sturgis a 100% chance of rain tomorrow.  The morning NAM had GRR with an 88% chance and gave Sturgis well over an inch of rain.   That looked high to me.   I think the southern storms will suck up the inflow moisture and we’ll just see some lighter scattered showers here.  I’ll write more later after the news.

WOOD TV is on Facebook, iPhone and more

June 5th, 2009 at 10:59 am by under Inside WOOD TV8

We wanted to let you know about some new ways you can stay connected and interact with WOOD TV8 and 24 Hour News 8.

Download the woodtv iPhone app in iTunes

Download the woodtv iPhone app in iTunes

Our staff is actively engaged on Facebook in three different locations. Become a fan to interact directly with them. Our Facebook pages: WOOD TV8DaybreakMaranda Park Parties

Many of the personalities on 24 Hour News 8 are on Twitter. Connect directly with them on Twitter or see their latest tweets aggregated here.

WOOD TV8 iPhone App
Our free app is designed specifically for the iPhone, so you’ll get crisp radar images, smooth news video and easy navigation between content sections. You can even customize the menu. In the iTunes store search for “woodtv”. Learn more about the iPhone app and download it here.
Our longtime popular wireless site delivers a ton of free info on news, weather, traffic, and much more.
Type into your wireless device or learn more about Live8 here.

News Over Wireless
Another free wireless site we maintain. You can get there by going to on your mobile device. Preview it on your computer here.

We’ll miss you Dan Limbaugh

May 18th, 2009 at 7:35 am by under Bill's Blog, Entertainment, Inside WOOD TV8, News, Sports, Weather

A sad time for WOODTV, our friend and co-worker Dan Limbaugh passed away Friday

Funeral Thursday, May 21 at 11am in Holland, details here:

Dan Limbaugh in WOODTV newsroom“You’re hot”… was a little joke between Dan and I that dates back to 2006 and our coverage of the Gerald Ford funeral.

Dan was in the sat truck running things from the Ford Museum site… while I sat back in ENG talking to Dan, the crews, and the different directors during our hours of coverage.  At one point, both the director and Dan were switching back and forth between cameras and I shouted “Dan, you’re hot”… later it turned into an inside joke between us about our mutual respect for each other’s work… and charming good looks… well at least my respect for Dan’s work and his charming good looks.

But my friendship with Dan dates back much earlier than that, I’ve worked with Dan directly or indirectly for the 7 years I’ve been at WOODTV.  As an experienced Producer at the station, he was a mentoring figure for me when I was the new guy… and just starting to learn how things work at WOODTV.

Dan wasn’t just a hard worker and beacon of sanity amoungst a storm of chaos at times, he was a good friend, and someone I wish I could have learned more from.

Dan passed away Friday night after a long battle with T-cell Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia and T-cell Lymphoma.  Dan was 52.

We’ll miss you Dan.   We’ll miss your laugh, your smile, and your leadership.

Click here to read Jack Doles’ story on about Dan Limbaugh.

There’s also a Remembering Dan Limbaugh Facebook page.. where you can leave your comments.


“The Big Limbaughski” fundraiser is this Friday 3/27/09 in Grand Rapids (more…)

Hurricane Season

April 28th, 2009 at 11:30 pm by under Bill's Blog, Inside WOOD TV8, Uncategorized, Weather

clickable global map of SST anomalies This is a map of current (well, a few days ago) sea surface temperatures relative to average.  Go here and you can click on this image and make it zoom in to a particular area.   You can check a map of sea surface temperatures (not relative to average) here (see if you can find the Gulf Steam off the E. Coast of the U.S., the cold currents off the W. Coast of the U.S. and Chili – places that don’t get hurricanes because of the relatively cold water)  On the map above, the blue color indicates where the water is cooler than average and the yellow indicates where the water is warmer than average. First, note that the La Nina (cooler than average water in the Equatorial Pacific) is ending and a weak El Nino (warmer than average water in the Equatorial Pacific) is beginning. “WEAK” is a very important word here. When we have a strong El Nino (1982-83) we have warmer weather and less snow in the winter. That is NOT the case with a weak El Nino. In fact, some of the coldest winters in Michigan (1976-77) occurred with a weak El Nino.  A weak El Nino usually (not always, but usually) brings slightly cooler than average temperatures in the summer to Michigan (hint here on our long range weather) – but more on that in later posts. (more…)