Great Lakes Water Levels

November 7th, 2014 at 1:59 am by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

Lake Michigan and Marie Fall 2014   Click on the picture to enlarge.  This is the Lake Michigan shoreline, showing the higher water levels eroding the edge of the dunes.  The water level of Lake Michigan/Huron is up one inch in the past month (at a time when the lake level is more apt to go down a couple inches).  The lake is up 22″ in the last year and is now 8″ higher than the long-term average for November.  The highest water level ever in November on Lake Michigan/Huron was in November 1986 and the lowest level ever in November was in 1964.  Lake Superior is down one inch in the last month.  However, Superior is up 11″ year-to-year and is now 9″ higher than the November century average.   Lake Erie is down 2″ in the last month, up 7″ in the last year and is now 8″ higher than the long-term average.  Lake Ontario is down 5″ in the last month and year-to-year and is now 1″ below the century average.  Lake St. Clair is down 1″ in the last month, but up an even foot in the past year and is 9″ above the long-term average.  The flow out of Lake Superior down the St. Mary’s River into Lake Huron continues well above average.  The outflow form Lake Huron into Lake Erie through the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers is above average.  The flow out of Lake Erie down the Niagara River is also above average.  The water temperature of the Great Lakes is slightly cooler than average.

The anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald is coming up.  Lake-effect snow on Lake ErieCleaning up debris that washed up with the big waves and strong winds last week.  The Halloween storm also caused damage in Northern IndianaCoast Guard find zombie floating in Lake Michigan, huh?


Arctic Blast – Snow and Cold

November 6th, 2014 at 3:06 am by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather    Click on the images to enlarge.  The first map is the 6-10 day (Nov. 11-15) temperature outlook from the Climate Prediction Center.  That’s about as dark a blue as I have ever seen.  The Arctic blast is coming and it’s going to affect just about everyone east of the Rockies.  The cold will set records.   The middle map is the precipitation outlook for the 6-10 day period (Nov. 11-15).  Note the green over much of Michigan.  That’s snow and probably lots of it.  The third map on the right is the temperature outlook fro Nov. 13-19 – showing the cold will be slow to leave.  This is serious cold and snow.  The surface map for next Tuesday morning shows a low pressure center over Michigan and a HUGE high pressure ridge from Northern Canada into the Northern Rockies.   The air flow is coming straight out of the Arctic.  Note that we have built up an extensive snow cover already across N. CanadaIce is already forming on the edge of Hudson Bay.  The overnight GFS forecasts 15″ of snow for Pellston and 10″ for Sault Ste. Marie by next Weds. evening.  For Grand Rapids, the overnight European shows a few snow showers developing  Sat. PM as the rain ends, another 1-2″ of snow for late Sunday and what would be about 4″ of snow for Weds. PM.  If the European is right, it’s possible we may not get much above 40 next week and we’ll have a couple of days when it may struggle to get above the freezing mark.   Overnight tweet from Dr. Ryan Maue:  “Next week, Great Lakes get ready for mountains of Lake Effect snow.”  Overnight tweet from meteorologist Joe Bastardi:  “Experimental GFS..YIKES!   Could bust early season cold records.  Shades of 1976 winter continue to show up”   (1976-77 is the coldest winter Grand Rapids has had since 1904).  Much of Central and Eastern Russia got a snow cover early this fall and I’ve mentioned several times there is a good correlation between cold/snowy winters in the Great Lakes and early snow in Northeast Asia.  Snow is already solid in the Alps (cool pic. just after sunrise this am).   The dreaded Arctic “hummingbird” (map next Tues. am).   Arctic is continues to build…the icecap extent is now closer to average than where it was at just two years agoArctic ice extent now compared to 6 years agoAntarctic ice extent now 2 standard deviations above average.

Also, major snow and wind in Alaska:  83 mph gust at Vaughn Lewis Ice-Fall, AK, 70 mph gusts with roof damage 10 mi NW of Ketchikan, AK.  The remains of Typhoon Nuri will move into the Bering Sea and they are forecasting waves up to 50 feet!   “CENTRAL PRESSURE WITH THIS SYSTEM DROPS FROM AROUND 970 MB LATE THURSDAY NIGHT…TO BETWEEN 918 TO 922 MB LATE FRIDAY NIGHT. THIS WOULD CREATE A SIGNIFICANT EVENT AS THE CURRENT RECORD LOWEST PRESSURE OBSERVED IN THE BERING SEA IS 925 MB MEASURED AT DUTCH HARBOR ON OCTOBER 25 1977.”  (note the date – late 70s show up again).  Up to 8″ of snow fell near Anchorage.  A Red Cross Rescue spokesman said that the snowfall and blizzard in 11 provinces of Iran had crippled 2000 people.” (I’m guessing that the word “crippled” means “trapped.)   50 cm (20 inches) of snow fell in Artvin, Turkey. On a plateau near Rize a car was stuck in 2 meters of snow.  “Sweden’s weather agency has issued 25 separate warnings across Sweden as heavy snowfall threatens to wreak havoc.”   San Antonio, TX, broke its Nov. 5 rain record with 2.3″.   Skating in New York City.   Snow in Minnesota.    Magnitude-4.5 earthquake 90 mi SE of Klamath Falls, OR.

Early Snow Cover Points to Cold Winter

October 28th, 2014 at 8:40 pm by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

Snow Cover Northern Hemisphere 10 28 14  Snow Cover Eurasia 10 28 14  Snow Cover Canada Oct. 28 2014Click on these images from Environment Canada to enlarge.  The graph on the left is total snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere, the graph in the center is snow cover in Eurasia and the graph on the right is snow cover in N. America (Canada and Alaska)  We continue to have a huge build-up of snow in the northern areas of the Northern Hemisphere.  The bottom line in these graphics is average snow cover.  The line above that is one standard deviation above average.  The red line represents the growing snow cover this fall.  From Canada across Siberia to northern Europe, snow has come significantly earlier than average.  There is a strong correlation between early snow cover in eastern Asia and cold/snowy winters in the eastern U.S.  Air that sits over all that snow is going to be cold and getting colder as the sun continues to retreat to the south until we reach the Winter Solstice on Dec. 21.  While this is just one element that is considered in making a winter forecast, this early build-up of snow suggests that governmental units, charities and families should be prepared for the possibility of extended periods of colder and/or snowier weather relative to average  this winter.  This would especially be a factor in the mid-South that are not used to getting much snow in the winter.

Some Good News

October 27th, 2014 at 12:22 am by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

gas prices  Let’s start off this Monday with some good news.  Here’s the latest from Ed:

Sunday, October 26, 2014, 5:00PM:  “On June 5, there was a hike to $3.99 in Michigan.  Today, you can find gas under $3.  What a move!  Looking ahead, the recent jump $3.19 coincided with another drop in wholesale prices, so there is a lot of room for prices to drop this week.  I would be looking for gas below $2.90 in places soon.

Now, what explains this 25% drop in retail prices since June, and an even better record the past several years?  I have a few theories:  (1) In September, I wonder if some hedge funds got caught “leaning the wrong way”, betting on higher energy prices.  When that did not materialize, they had to liquidate their bets, causing a sudden drop in prices.  I have no evidence of this, other than I’ve seen this happen before, especially in stocks and other commodities.  (2)  There is significant evidence that the demand for oil and gas has been falling the past several years, while the supply has been rising, due in part to significant increases in US production.  We have been driving less, buying fewer cars, and fuel efficiency has been improving. Consequently, we have been buying less gasoline (which is what the Democrats wanted), while supplies have been increasing (which is what the Republicans wanted).  Hence, a bipartisan victory — lower prices.  (3)  Energy “investors” are looking at the Middle East differently than they did a decade ago.  Then, with the war in Iraq, there was a “global tensions premium” built into energy prices.  As our involvement in Iraq has wound down, the premium has slowly disappeared, and, in the case of the past few months, not so slowly.  What is confounding about this theory is that we have new Middle Eastern tensions (a.k.a., ISIS).  But, perhaps ISIS is not as big a deal as it appears, or perhaps the US really is heading towards energy independence as politicians have talked about since 9/11, and finally, in 2014, we are starting to reap the benefits.

In terms of the Gas Game, it is harder to predict price hikes when there are fewer hikes.  But I’m not complaining!!!! — Ed A.

Great Lakes Water Levels

October 24th, 2014 at 2:22 am by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

Lake Michigan Mackinac Bridge Michelle Olin Oct. 2014   Great picture from a few days ago of the Mackinac Bridge – by Michelle Olin.  The big story – Lake Michigan and Lake Huron are 22″ higher than one year ago!  Wow…22 times 390 billion gallons per inch = a gain of 8.58 TRILLION gallons of water in just one year.  For Lake Huron, that’s 22 times 400 billion gallons per inch = 8.8 trillion gallons.  These are the biggest one-year rises ever recorded on the lakes.  Lake Michigan and Lake Huron are both up 1″ in the last month and are now 4″ above the long-term October average.  From Aug. 1 to Oct. 1 the water level of Lakes Michigan and Huron rose 2″.  On average, those lakes drop 5″ during those 2 months.   Lake Superior is unchanged in the last month, up 10″ year-to-year and the lake is now 8″ above the century average.  Lake Erie is down 2″ in the last month, but the lake is up 8″ in the past year and is now 7″ above the long-term average.  Lake Ontario is down 6″ in the last month and down 2″ in the last year.  Ontario is 2″ below the century average.  Lake St. Clair is down 1″ in the last month, up 16″ in the last year and is now 9″ above average.   If you add up all the Great Lakes – the sum total comes to a one-year increase of 23.99 trillion gallons of water!  That’s enough water to give every person in drought-stricken California approximately 600,000 gallons of water!  The phenomenal increase in the water levels of the lakes is due to above average precipitation, below average evaporation and a longer period with ice-cover last winter.

Also:  State record muskie caught in Torch Lake.  At 50 pounds, 8 ounces – it beat the old record by 2.5 pounds!   7.5 million dollars raised to buy dune land at Saugatuck, MichiganMichigan National Guard testing wind funnelsCleveland christens “floating office”Ghost ships of the Great Lakes.

Tornado in Washington State

October 23rd, 2014 at 7:34 pm by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

Tornado Longview Damage   Tornado Longview Washington Doreen Grose A tornado struck Longview, Washington this afternoonVIDEO HERE.    They report roof damage and trees toppled, but no serious injuries.  It was on the ground for at least 6 blocks.  Pictures from KGW-TV.  More pictures here.  Helicopter video of the damage here (complete with annoying audio).  “The wind also blew the roof off the gym at Kessler Elementary School, but the kids were outside playing in the rain at the time and didn’t even notice, school officials told KGW.”

Partial Solar Eclipse

October 23rd, 2014 at 1:45 am by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

Solar eclipse partial NASA   I didn’t said much about the partial solar eclipse that occurred this evening.  A solar eclipse occurs when the moon comes between the sun and the earth.   In a total eclipse (a very rare event in any one given spot), the moon covers the entire sun and you can sometimes see the “diamond ring effect”.  More common is some degree of partial eclipse.  Today’s eclipse starts at 5:36 pm and reaches a peak right at official sunset around 6:42 pm.  “At this point roughly half the sun will be covered by the moon.  However, we had some clouds that have come in from the west and blocked a good view of the eclipse.  A solar eclipse (much more so for a total solar eclipse at midday than this, a 50% partial eclipse at sunset thru some high clouds) is very dangerous to look at.  You can view a solar eclipse safely by using two paper plates…poking a hole in one and having the sun shine through onto the second plate.   There is a much better solar eclipse coming August 21, 2017.  That will be a total eclipse from Oregon to South Carolina and I believe about 80% for Lower Michigan.

Also, here’s a list of flyovers of the Intl. Space Station.  You can also get the latest on West Michigan astronomical events from the Grand Rapids Amateur Astronomical Assn.  Sky and Telescope’s Sky at a Glance will show you the current position of the planets.   Check out for details on auroras, the number of sunspots, asteroid approaches and more.  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.

Early Snowcover and a Cold, Snowy Winter

October 21st, 2014 at 9:24 pm by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

Northern Hemisphere Snow cover    Here’s the map that Jack linked to (The natice site appears to be down at the moment, so this will do fine)  It shows the buildup of snowcover as of October 20 across the northern part of the Northern Hemisphere.   The Rutgers Lab keeps track of N. Hemisphere snow cover and they reported that as of the end of September, this year ranks as #1 in 46 years of record in terms of snowcover on Sept. 30th for North America with 4.899 million sq. kilometers with snow on the ground.  For Eurasia it was #8 of 46 years wtih 2,342 million sq. kilometers.  For the combined N. Hemisphere it was 3rd highest in 46 years at 7.241 million sq. kilometers.  It’s not just in one place, it’s everywhere – all around the N. Hemisphere.   The latest analog years to the current pattern are mostly very cold and or very snowy:  1951-52, 1969-70, 1976-77, 2003-04, 2009-10, 2013-14).  In the mix, we have the coldest winter of the past 110 years (1976-77), the snowiest winter ever (1951-52) and the 2nd winter ever (last winter).  1969-70 was Holland’s snowiest winter.  The other two years had average snowfall (72.2″ in 09-10 and 74″ in 03-04).  There is a good correlation between early snowcover in Siberia and cold winters in the Great Lakes.  Remember, we have a weak El Nino, centered more toward the central Pacific and the warm pool south of Alaska that will work to keep the ridge there.  The QBO is closest in value to 1976. Other notes.  Corn is 87% mature, average is 97% – soybean harvest is at 30% last check -average is 78%.  Honeycrisp apples are large this year and the apple crop is excellent quality this year – for some farms the best crop ever.

Breaking News

October 17th, 2014 at 6:31 pm by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

Ford Airport 8:45 pm – An American Eagle Plane that has arrived at the Ford Airport in G.R. from Dallas, Texas was held on the runway for about an hour.  Three people on the plane had become ill.  The plane was being surrounded with emergency vehicles.  The three individuals were taken to a local hospital for evaluation.   Stay with 24-Hour News 8 and for the latest.

Hurricane Gonzola Hits Bermuda – Showers Here in W. Michigan

October 17th, 2014 at 2:48 pm by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

bermuda radar   Saturday AM  -  Dang!  Look at this!  The eye of the storm passed directly over Bermuda!  At 8:55 pm, the airport reported an ESE wind at 74 mph with a gust to 96 mph.  An hour later the wind was S at 10 mph and no gusts.  At 11:55 pm, they reported the wind was W at 93 mph with a peak gust to 113 mph.   One report of sustained wind to 105 mph with a gust to 127 mph (Commissioner’s Point).  The radar image is from shortly after 6 pm.   Here’s a recent radar loop as the storm is moving out of the area.  Here’s the latest weather observation from Bermuda.   This could be the strongest hurricane ever to hit the tiny island.  Hurricane Fay did some damage to Bermuda earlier this month.   Here’s more from the Bermuda Weather Service.  Tweet from inside the eye of the storm on Bermuda:  “Now in the eye of the storm. Dead calm outside. Tree frogs chirping. No rain. Little wind. Incredibly eery.”   Most of the island is without power.  Video from the eyewall this evening.   Webcam from Bermuda – it should be interesting when the sun comes up in the AM.   Check out the facebook page of the National Weather Service of Bermuda.  Here’s a satellite view of the storm as it races toward far eastern Canada.  Closer view.

8:45 pm – G.R. down to 51 degrees, Cadillac is 45°.  Scattered light showers/rain across the area – no lightning now.  We’re getting gusts to 20-30 mph.  The cold air is coming down…wind gusts along the Lake Superior shoreline have been running 30-40 mph with temps. in the low 40s.