September 1st, 2014 at 12:23 pm by Bill Steffen under Bill's Blog, News, Weather
9:15 pm – back from a one-hour kayak on Crockery Lake. There’s a t-storm out over Lake Michigan. I saw a flash of lightning on the western horizon from my house. The storm is moving about due east toward Holland, while a very narrow anvil top of the storm has blown off to the NE. Very interesting sky with variations of clouds and colors and a half moon to the southwest. Earlier comment from Cort Scholton: “Looks like two tornadoes spun up, one NE of Kalkaska and one NW of Grayling. Radar caught substantial velocity couplets and also debris signatures.“ Three people trapped in a house by storm damage. Here’s U.S. storm reports. There was a Severe T-Storm Watch for NE Michigan. Here’s the meso-discussion that was in effect for E and SE Michigan. Latest GRR NWS discussion. Roadway flooding up to 1′ deep near M-46 in Merrill, MI, with more than 1″ of rainfall in 45 min. Showers and storms are east of a line from S. Bend to Alma and moving east. A mini-hurricane at my house when the squall went thru in Alpine Twp. Gusts to 40 mph and heavy rain. My gutters were overflowing. Only one decent crack of thunder. Click on the graphics to enlarge. SPC had a meso-discussion out for a Severe T-Storm Watch for a large portion of N. Michigan. “ Scroll down to check radar and links below.
The European model says we’re done with rain early tonight…less humid Tues. and Weds…warm and more humid on Thurs. The model has only 0.1″ of rain Friday into early Sat., but that looks underdone to me. Significantly cooler for next weekend into early next week. The Euro. takes temps. to the mid-upper 40s next Monday morning.
August 29th, 2014 at 2:02 am by Bill Steffen under Bill's Blog, News, Weather
Click on the image to enlarge. This graphic is from the U.S. Geological Survey and shows the structure of a volcano. We have two additional volcanic eruptions. Check out the Rabaul Caldera eruption on Mount Tavurvur in Papua New Guinea. News reports say the smoke and ash plume from Rabaul has gone 11.2 miles above the ground! Some airline flights have been diverted. Volcanoes (especially in the tropics) can on rare occasion cool the Earth by blasting enough sulfur dioxide into the upper atmosphere. That’s what the volcanic explosion of Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines did in 1991-92. Check out the Eruption Image Gallery at the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre. We also have a volcanic eruption in Iceland. The Bardarbunga Volcano has a fissure over half a mile long. A Code Red aviation travel warning with a no-fly zone was issued Friday by the U.K. Met Office. Here’s a map of Iceland’s volcanoes. You might remember the the eruption of Mt. Eyjafjallajökull in 2010. Check out this pic. of that eruption! The windy, rainy remains of Hurricane Cristobal are going to pass over Iceland. Also, a magnitude 5.6 earthquake has struck just off the coast of Greece. And…intense low pressure will form over Hudson Bay. Tornado yesterday at Mayfield SD. Here’s snow falling on Pike’s Peak in Colorado. Surf’s up in California! Here’s the latest severe weather outlooks from SPC. I’ll update in the morning…too tired to stay up for the European model. The overnight NAM (caribou) still looks too low with rainfall totals. The GFS-plot gives G.R. 1.07″ of rain between now and next Tues. AM and that sounds better. Temperatures slightly warmer than average for the next week to 10 days (normal high is now 79° – down 4° from the peak in mid-July.
August 28th, 2014 at 7:46 pm by Bill Steffen under Bill's Blog, News, Weather
Scott Hansen sent me this picture on my facebook page of sunset at the Holland Channel as the sailboats return from the Wednesday night race. I was on vacation last week and my daughter (#2) and I circled Lake Michigan. The water level of Lake Michigan/Huron is 15″ higher than it was one year ago. Each inch represents 390 billion gallons of water, so a 15″ rise is an increase of 5.85 trillion gallons of water. Side note – Chicago diverts about 900 million gallons of water per day from Lake Michigan or about 328 billion gallons a year, equal to about 7/10ths inch of water from the lake. Canada diverts some water into Lake Superior, which I am told more than balances the Chicago outflow. Lake Michigan, Superior, Huron and Lake St. Clair are all at the same water level as one month ago. Lake Superior is 6″ above the long-term average, Lake Michgan/Huron is 3″ below the century average and Lake St. Clair is 4″ above the long term average. Lake Erie is down 1″ in the last month, but up 5″ year-to-year and 4″ above the century average. Lake Ontario dropped 5″ in the last month. Ontario is exactly at the level of one year ago and 1″ higher than the century average. The outflow from Lake Superior into Lake Huron remains well above average. The Grand River at Grand Rapids (as I write this) is flowing at 2,480 cubic feet per second, compared to an average flow of 1,800 cfs. The Muskegon River at Croton shows a flow of 1,370 cfs compared to an average of 1,240 cfs. The Fox River at Appleton WI is at 7,789 cfs compared to an average flow of 2,570 cfs. The Kalamazoo River at Comstock is at 683 cfs compared to an average of 608 cfs.
Also, the surf capital of Lake Huron? Half a million bucks to clean up a Lake Michigan park. Lawyer swims across Lake St. Clair. Lighthouse for sale. Salmon numbers dipping in Lake Michigan.
August 27th, 2014 at 9:24 pm by Bill Steffen under Bill's Blog, News, Weather
Click on the images (from the Storm Prediction Center) to enlarge. The first image is severe weather reports in Michigan so far this year (red = tornadoes, green = hail of 1″ or greater in diameter and blue indicates wind damage reports. The middle image is a graph comparing the number of tornadoes by year and the last image is the severe reports from July 6, when we had the tornado on the south side of Grand Rapids (see severe reports that day at the link).
The entire U.S. has recorded only 6 tornadoes through the first 27 days of August. The 3-year August average is 47. Through Aug. 27, we have had 862 tornadoes this year (this count has not been checked for duplicate reports of the same tornado). the average to date is 1,023. Both this year and last year have been significantly lower than average for the number of U.S. tornadoes. So far this year, we have had 44 tornado fatalities in the U.S., including 35 deaths in the last week of April. The most deaths occurred in Arkansas (16) and Mississippi (11). Twenty-Four of the deaths were in houses, 12 in mobile homes, 4 were in vehicles, 3 victims were outside and one in another permanent structure. In Michigan, we have had 334 severe weather reports, including 11 tornadoes – 70 reports of 1″ or greater diameter hail and 253 wind reports.
We will be getting storms Friday, Saturday and Monday – and we’ll be tracking the possibility of severe weather here on the blog.
ADD – Yankees seem to have gotten 9 consecutive hits to start the 3rd inning. The record for consecutive hits in an inning was set by the Colorado Rockies with 11 consecutive hits against the Chicago Cubs (no surprise it was the Cubs) during a 12-run outburst in the 8th inning of a 17-2 victory at Coors Field in Colorado July 30, 2010.
August 26th, 2014 at 9:22 pm by Bill Steffen under Bill's Blog, News, Weather
The same storms that went thru West Michigan have left flooded roads and 150,000 DTE customers without power. I-94 was closed due to flooding. Here’s damage reports and rainfall totals from SE Michigan. The Lansing Airport added 0.56″ of rain thru 4:50 pm – that brings the total for LAN since June 1 to 15.75″ (average for the period is 8.99″).
August 25th, 2014 at 2:29 pm by Bill Steffen under Bill's Blog, News, Weather
Early Tues. AM - First 90° temperature of the summer for Kalamazoo and Battle Creek on Monday. It also made 90° in Coldwater, Three Rivers and Sturgis. The storms did produce some tree damage in Prairieville Township (SW corner of Barry Co.) and 60 mph winds near Gull Lake. Small hail was reported in several locations. Wind damage has occurred in a dozen locations in NE Illinois and N Indiana. My daughter (#1) texted that branches were down in Chicago where she was. There was a report of 2″ hail west of Indianapolis. In this humid air, we still have a chance that an isolated shower or storm could spring to life until a weak cool front passes Tuesday morning. Most of us will be dry Tues. PM into Thursday with a chance of storms as we start the Labor Day Weekend. No sign of any really cool air. We’ll be mainly upper 70s to low 80s much of the rest of the week int he afternoon. I got a quick peak at some long range maps and I don’t see anything really cool in the first half of September.
At 7:04 pm – 2,274 Consumers customers without power, 920 of them in Clare Co. Also, 478 in Barry Co., 407 in Kalamazoo Co., 149 in Osceola Co. and 102 in Allegan Co.. Most outages near G.R. are lightning-related. Read the thread below more and some interesting links.
August 14th, 2014 at 8:36 pm by Bill Steffen under Bill's Blog, News, Weather
The water level of Lake Michigan/Huron is unchanged in the last 2 weeks and unchanged in the last 4 weeks. However, the level is 16″ higher than it was one year ago. That’s the biggest one-year change on Lake Michigan/Huron that I have ever seen. Since each inch of water represents 390 billion gallons…that means an increase of 6.24 TRILLION gallons of water in just one year. The lake remains 3″ below the long-term average and 28″ above the lowest August water level in 1964. Lake Superior is unchanged in the last month and 9″ above the level of one year ago. Superior is 6″ above the century average. The biggest of the Great Lakes is 26″ above the lowest water level in August, set in 2007 and only 6″ below the highest August water level set in 1952. Lake Erie is down one inch in the last month, up 4″ in the last year and 6″ above the long-term average. Lake Ontario is down 5″ in the last month, down 1″ in the last year, but still 4″ above the century average. Lake St. Clair is up 2″ in the last month, up 11″ in the last year and it’s now 7″ above the long-term average. Lake Superior’s outflow down the St. Mary’s River into Lake Huron is expected to be “well above average” through August and into September. The outflow from Lake Erie down the Niagara River and over Niagara Falls is expected to be above average for the rest of the summer. (Picture of Lake Michigan from the awesome Michelle Olin)
OK – first, one of my favorite quotations from H.L Mencken: “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” Now – on to my featured article this week, this time from the Montreal Gazette. I encourage you to read the article and see how that matches the reality in my first paragraph. Now, look at the date, August 13, 2014 – so this article came out Wednesday of this week. The article starts: “Climate change experts predict that water volumes and levels in the St. Lawrence River Basin will continue to dwindle over time.” Now, is the water level of the Great Lakes “dwindling”? – obviously no. The writer continues: “It is already nearly impossible to manage water levels in the basin simply by discharging water stored at the Sault-Ste-Marie, Welland-Niagara, Cornwall and Beauharnois dam complexes. We’ve never been able to completely manage water levels. In fact, we sometimes get in trouble when we do try and overmanage nature (dredging in the St. Clair River, building a nuclear power plant where they get severe earthquakes and tsunamis and letting people live 10 feet below sea level on river silt where they get hit by strong hurricanes and storm surges). The article continues: “The levels of Lake Huron and Lake Michigan are already some two feet or 60 centimetres lower than normal.” NO THEY’RE NOT!! The lakes are 3″ below “normal” NOT TWO FEET! The other 3 Great Lakes are well above normal. It goes on to say: “In a report this past June titled Lower Water Blues, the Mowat Centre of the University of Toronto conservatively assessed medium-term economic impacts at about $20 billion. I wrote about the Mowat study 2 weeks ago. The $20 billion figure is of course highly suspect, since the study was based on flawed input. (But it could scare you into allowing them to take a lot more of your money). The “dam solution” to all, the author says, will cost only 6 BILLION Dollars. (Hot dang, we “save” 14 billion dollars!!).
The updated latest weekly Great Lakes water levels are available on the web (no password, no pay wall, no “use Mike’s trick to hide the increase”) from the Army Corps of Engineers every Thursday evening.
August 11th, 2014 at 7:07 pm by Bill Steffen under Bill's Blog, News, Weather
Breaking – The actor Robin Williams is dead of an apparent suicide. Here’s the sheriff’s press release, which reads in part:
Marin County Sheriff’s Office Coroner Division FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Assistant Chief Deputy Coroner August 11, 2014. Investigation into Death of Actor Robin Williams.
On August 11, 2014, at approximately 11:55 am, Marin County Communications received a 9-1-1 telephone call reporting a male adult had been located unconscious and not breathing inside his residence in unincorporated Tiburon, CA. The Sheriff’s Office, as well as the Tiburon Fire Department and Southern Marin Fire Protection District were dispatched to the incident with emergency personnel arriving on scene at12:00 pm. The male subject, pronounced deceased at12:02 pm has been identified as Robin McLaurin Williams, a 63 year old resident of unincorporated Tiburon, CA.An investigation into the cause, manner, and circumstances of the death is currently underway by the Investigations and Coroner Divisions of the Sheriff’s Office.Preliminary information developed during the investigation indicates Mr. Williams was last seen alive at his residence, where he resides with his wife, at approximately 10:00 pm on August 10, 2014. Mr. Williams was located this morning shortly before the 9-1-1 call was placed to Marin County Communications. At this time, the Sheriff’s Office Coroner Division suspects the death to be a suicide due to asphyxia, but a comprehensive investigation must be completed before a final determination is made. A forensic examination is currently scheduled for August 12, 2014 with subsequent toxicology testing to be conducted.
Picture from NBC – San Francisco. Here’s more pics. of Robin Williams and his career.
July 31st, 2014 at 8:13 pm by Bill Steffen under Bill's Blog, News, Weather
Picture of Lake Michigan near Ganges this (Thurs.) evening from Jack Martin. The water level of Lake Michigan/Huron (one lake for lake-level purposes) is now only 3″ from the long-term average. The lake is up 2″ in the last month and up a spectacular 15″ in the last year (that’s 5.85 TRILLION gallons of water added to the lake in just 12 months!). The lake is now 28″ above the lowest August level set in 1964. Lake Superior is also up 2″ in the last month and is now 6″ ABOVE the long-term average. Superior is up 9″ year-to-year. Lake Superior is now 26″ higher than it was in August 2007! It’s also only 7″ below the highest level ever measured in the month of August (in 1952). Lake Erie is up 2″ year-to-year and is now 5″ above the long-term average. Lake Ontario is also up 2″ in the past year and the lake is now 6″ higher than the long-term average. Lake St. Clair is up 9″ year-to-year and 5″ above the century average. The flow of water out of Lake Superior down the St. Mary’s River will remain above average into early September.
OK – you’ve read the latest lake levels – out every Thursday by the Army Corps of Engineers on the web, easy to find…so WHY do we continue to get stories like this? Look at the date – the article was published on June 26, 2014 – about a month ago. The article says: “Low water levels in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River could result in severe economic fallout for the region, totalling more than $19.3 billion by 2050, according to a new report. The basin has experienced the longest extended period of low water levels since the U.S. and Canada began tracking it in 1918.” Maybe it’s time that we take the money we give to Mowat Centre and Council of the Great Lakes Region for studies like this and instead put it toward filling potholes! The South Bend Tribune gets the story right.
Also: Cruise ships in Cleveland? Boy meets Coast Guard crew that saved his life on Lake Michigan. Black sludge on Lake Ontario. Divers discover wreck of World War II airplane. “Bug Derecho!“ Freshwater drum increasing in Lake Michigan. Invasive species in the Great Lakes. Who wants 4.5 million dollars?
July 31st, 2014 at 12:48 am by Bill Steffen under Bill's Blog, News, Weather