We have set a record for the most ice on the Great Lakes in any March and we are so close to an all-time record. Currently Lake Michigan has a 91.7% ice cover and the Great Lakes are at 92.2% . The record for Great Lakes ice was set back on 2/19/1979 at 94.7% coverage. The record for Lake Michigan is 93.1% set in 1977. So, we’re within 2% of setting all time records for both Lake Michigan and the Great Lakes. As I write this…the temperature in G.R. is 13°. The first 6 days of March were 18.2° colder than average in Grand Rapids!
Click on the images to enlarge. Wednesday, we set new records for most ice ever in March on the Great Lakes (91.0%) and most ice ever in March on Lake Michigan (92.1%). The only time the lakes had more ice was for a short time in February 1979 (at the link you’ll see there was more ice on Lake Ontario in 1979). Here’s what Lake Michigan looked like Wednesday at Muskegon, Chicago, Alpena and Michigan City, Indiana. Here’s Lake Erie near Toledo.
Snowfall records for Grand Rapids: Greatest average snow depth for February (20″ – old record 17.8″ in Jan. 1979), greatest snow depth ever in February (24″ on 2/18 – old record 23″ in 1936 – greatest snow depth ever is 27″ on 1/27/1978), 16 consecutive days of 20″ or more snow depth in G.R. (2/5 to 2/20 – old record was 9 days in Feb. 1936 and in Jan. 1979). There were 18 daily records for most snow depth in Feb. 2014. We have set a daily record for snow depth every day in March so far. We have also set a new record snow depth for March with 20″ on the 2nd. We have had a snow cover in G.R. continuously since the afternoon of Dec. 8 and we have had 4″ or more of snow on the ground continuously since Dec. 10 or 86 days.
This picture was taken by Marilyn Enness Monday morning. This isn’t Michigan – it’s HAWAII! Yup, this is up on Mauna Kea at over 11,000 feet above sea level. The forecast for this Monday was for 5″ of snow in the AM, 1″ in the PM. The summit actually reported 8″ of new snow! They had forecast temperatures in the 20s, 60-80 mph winds and gusts that could reach as high as 100 mph. A High Wind Warning was in effect. The same storm produced a record daily rainfall at Kahului. Rainfall totaled 2.81″ at Kaupo Gap. A High Surf Warning was issued for “high surf along the north and west-facing shores of Kauai and north-facing shores of Oahu, Molokai and Maui of 21-28 feet Monday night and Tuesday and 15-22 feet along the west-facing shores of Oahu and Molokai.”
Jimmy Fallon jumped in Lake Michigan this morning. They had to work to find some open water. The 10 am view of Chicago from the water intake 2.8 miles east of downtown Chicago doesn’t show much open water. The temperature at the water intake at 10 am this morning was +9° with a wind chill of -10°. He talked about this on his show this past week. This was Sunday morning in Chicago. The polar plunge in Chicago benefited the Special Olympics. Here’s the story.
Click on the images to enlarge. The graph on the left is the percentage of ice cover on Lake Michigan. I can’t remember a time when I’ve seen it go up and down and up that much that quickly. We had the ice accumulating up to +80% coverage…then we had the big wind storm on the 21st with gusts to 60-65 mph across Lake Michigan, which broke up a lot of the ice cover. Then, we get a very cold night with little or no wind and look at how much ice (albeit thin and vulnerable to breaking up again) reformed on the lake by late Friday (the 28th). The picture on the right was taken by Norm Ray at Kewaunee, Wisconsin on Feb. 15th. The wind had blown the ice away from shore and you can see lake-effect clouds forming in the background. You can also see the “steam” rising off the open water near the pier (breakwater). That steam caused by cold air coming over relatively (important word) warm water is sometimes called “Arctic Smoke”. There is a lone fisherman. The temperature was 5 above zero (pic. from WLUK). BTW, Green Bay has now set a record for most below zero temperatures in a winter.
Model update: The European would give GRR a total of 2-3″ of snow by Sunday am – a little more south toward I-94 and a little less to the north…we’re slightly below zero on the Euro. Monday and Tues. AM and we get another 3/4″ of snow Tues. PM. We finally get above freezing on Friday. The NAM (car.) has 1.9″ of snow and then 3.8″ Sat. night for G.R…looks a little high. The GFS has about 2″ of snow for G.R. (a little more to the south, mainly Sat. evening/night) and another couple inches Tues. The GFS plot has lows of 3 and 6 on Mon. and Thurs. nights and it gets to 32 Friday and keeps temps. at or below freezing thru 3/17!! (overdone…but you get the picture…the snow is going to be slow to melt this year.
Also, check out this picture of the icy grip of winter! Let’s give that man a hand. Here’s a pic. of the small tornado in N. California. Downtown L.A. had the first calendar day with an inch or more of rain on Thursday since Oct. 2011. Think spring! Here’s 3 minutes of time-lapse flowers blooming. Check out the cool pics. of snowflakes. Animals growing up (and people). 50-foot high snowman. NBC news reporter needs to be rescued.
These are the 6-10 day (for March 5-9) and the 8-14 day (for March 7-13) Temperature Outlooks from the Climate Prediction Center. Click on the images to enlarge. In BOTH cases, the highest probability of colder than average temperatures is over Lower Michigan (lucky us!). Expect the cold pattern to continue and much of our snow to still be on the ground as we get to mid-March. The average high temperature for Grand Rapids is 38 on 3/1, 40 on 3/5 and 45 by 3/17. By the middle of the month, a day that’s 10 degrees colder than average still gets us above freezing…that combined with the stronger sun should start melting the snow and ice. The huge piles (like at the mall) may linger into early April.
The water level of Lake Michigan/Huron is unchanged over the last month. The level is 14″ higher than it was one year ago and 12″ below the century average. Lake Superior is down 2″ in the last month, but up 11″ since Feb. 2013. Superior is just one inch below the long-term average. Lake Erie and Lake Ontario were both down 4″ in the last month. Both lakes are 2″ higher than one year ago. Lake Erie is 3″ below the long-term average and Lake Ontario is one inch below the century average. The potential for spring flooding is higher than usual this year. We have an extensive above average snow cover across the entire Great Lakes. The water equivalent in the snowcover was measured at 3.4″ in Lansing, 4.3″ in Muskegon and 5.8″ in Grand Rapids Friday afternoon. Pic. of the Mackinac Bridge from upnorthlive. Click on the pic. to enlarge.
Click on the image to enlarge or click here. It’s a very rare totally clear day. You can see the ice on Lake Michigan (snow covered where it is whitest). You can see the slightly darker color at Milwaukee and Chicago, though Grand Rapids is hard to find. The rivers are ice covered (see if you can find the Grand and Kalamazoo Rivers). My snow-covered tornado scar is still quite visible northwest of Green Bay from the tornado in 2007. Where there are more trees (esp. conifer trees), the color is a little darker (from Newaygo Co. north, across northern Wisconsin and the U.P. There’s certainly still enough open water for lake-effect snow, though with the colder water and reduced distance over open water, accumulations would be lighter than with similar conditions earlier in the winter. Now, check out Lake Superior, Lake Huron, Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and a wide shot of the Western Great Lakes. Also today is the date with greatest ice cover in 1979, the year when we had the most ice in the satellite era. With the Siberian Express ready to rock ‘n roll next week, I’ll bet we haven’t seen peak ice on the Great Lakes.
Click on the graphics to enlarge. GLERL reports that the Great Lakes have now reached 88.1% ice coverage and that Lake Michigan is up to 80.4%. We get the warm-up next week, but then it gets cold again for late Feb. We may not see the peak of Great Lakes ice until the first week of March.
The water level of Lake Michigan/Huron has not changed in the last month. The lake is up 13″ year-to-year and 13″ below the century average. Lake Superior dropped 4″ in the last month (very cold – less runoff, the level should hold steady in the next few weeks now that the lake is almost all ice-covered). Superior is up 10″ in the last year and is 2″ below the long-term average. Lake Erie is down 4″ in the last month, up 2″ in the last year and down 3″ from average. Lake Ontario (which has the highest percentage of open water of the Great Lakes) is down 1″ in the last month, up 4″ year-to-year and 1″ above the long term average.
Click the images to enlarge. The first two pictures were stills from our WOOD/GVSU skycams in Allendale (left) and Grand Rapids (center). No, it’s not a dreaded SNOWNADO spinning out angry polar bears. It’s the steam cloud rising from the Port Sheldon Power Plant. The clearing line was perfectly placed to make this look like a tornado. It’s about 26 miles west from G.R. to Port Sheldon, so we have a nice view from a good distance away. With our latest skycams now in Allendale, Jenison, Holland (Boatwerks) and in downtown G.R., we’ve got a good eye on storms coming in thru Ottawa County toward G.R. The picture on the right is my favorite local “scary, but harmless” cloud. This was taken by Derek DeLange of Rockford…an ominous shelf cloud that looks like a massive approaching tornado. Neither this cloud, nor the steam cloud from Port Sheldon was rotating. Remember, if it’s not rotating (at least 40 mph), it’s not dangerous. If you’ve got a minute, check out the pics. at The Scary-Looking Cloud Club!