Great Lakes Update

January 15th, 2015 at 8:14 pm by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

modis lake michigan   modis lake ontariomodis lake huron Here’s 3 MODIS satellite pics. from this (Thu.) afternoon.  Click on the images to supersize.  The first shows the clouds over West Michigan  and the clear skies over most of Lake Michigan and Eastern Wisconsin.  You can see that Green Lake (southwest of frozen Lake Winnebago).  Shallow lakes freeze before deeper lakes and this is a great example of that.  Green Lake has an average depth of 100 feet and a maximum depth of 237 feet (about the same maximum depth as Lake Erie (241 ft.)).   Much bigger Lake Winnebago has a maximum depth of only 21 feet, so it is one of the first lakes in Eastern Wisconsin to freeze up.

In the middle we have Lake Ontario with much less ice on it than farther south Lake Erie.   Lake Erie is much shallower (average depth 62 feet) than Lake Ontario (average depth 283 feet, maximum depth 802 feet), so Lake Erie will freeze up before Lake Ontario.  You can see open water in the Finger Lakes south of Lake Ontario.  Those are deep lakes and are slow to freeze in the winter.  On the right we have Lake Huron.  You can see ice in Saginaw Bay and around the shore, with lake-effect clouds in the middle of the lake over the open water.

As of Thurs. evening, we have 34.2% ice cover on the Great Lakes.  Last year at this time it was 21.3%.   Here’s the current percent of ice cover on Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie and Ontario.   Strong wind can break up ice and move it around the lake.

ALL FIVE of the Great Lakes now have above average water levels.  Lake Superior is down 3″ in the last month.  That’s not surprising since it’s been so cold.  The snow is not melting, many rivers are frozen.  Lake Superior is mostly open water, so we’re still evaporating water without as much runoff coming into the lake.  Superior is up 10″ year-to-year and is now 8″ above the January average.   Lake Michigan/Huron is down 1″ in the last month, but up a whopping 22″ in the last year.  Michigan/Huron is now also 8″ above the January average water level.  Lake Erie is up 2″ in the last month, up 7″ in the last yaer and 8″ above the century average for January.  Lake Ontario is up 5″ in the last month and is now 1″ above the long-term average.  Lake St. Clair is up 2″ in the last month, up 18″ year-to-year and 13″ above the century average.  There is a greater risk of coastal flooding during onshore high winds with these higher lake levels.  The flow on all the connecting rivers (St. Mary’s, St. Clair, Detroit and Niagara is expected to remain greater than average into February.

Also:  Check out these pics. of the St. Joseph Lighthouse.    Diabetes drug affecting fish in Lake MichiganBusiest year ever on Lake Michigan portAsian carp updateFreighters stuck in the ice in the St. Clair River.


Great Lakes Water Levels, % Ice Coverage and News

January 11th, 2015 at 3:00 am by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

Holland State Park 11 days difference Kelsey Gephart 1 8 15   muskegon glerl chicago glerl Click on the images to enlarge.  The first double pic. on the left from Kelsey Gephart shows the pier/walk at Holland St. Park 11 days apart (on the right, I believe is the snow last Thursday.  The middle and right pictures are form the GLERL cameras at Muskegon and Chicago.  Note the ice that has formed during this cold week.  Here’s current Great Lakes ice cover (which as I type this is at 15.2%).  Here’s Lake Michigan (18% ice covered as I write this)…Lake Superior (8.6%)…Lake Huron (25.1%)…Lake Erie (45.5%)…and Lake Ontario (1.9%).  Deeper lakes take longer to ice over, so often shallow Lake Erie (max. depth 210 feet) has the greatest % of surface ice cover than the other Great Lakes.   Lake Superior (deepest 1,333 feet) takes a long time to freeze.  This is true for inland lakes as well.  Torch Lake east of Traverse City is a deep lake (max. depth 285 feet – deeper than Lake Erie) and will take longer to freeze over than shallow lakes (Houghton Lake (max depth 22 feet) or the west half of Gun Lake).

The water level of Lake Michigan/Huron is down 1″ in the last month, but up a whopping 22″ in the last year (almost two feet!).  The lake is now 8″ above the long-term average January level.  Lake Superior also dropped one inch in the last month.  Superior is up 11 inches year-to-year and is now 10″ above the century average for January.  The higher water has prompted lakeshore flood advisories in the U.P. with strong north winds pushing water toward shore.  Lake Erie is up 2″ in the last month and up 8″in the last year.  Erie is now 9″ above the average level.  Lake Ontario is up 5″ in the last month, down 2″ in the last year and right at the long-term average.  Lake St. Clair is up 1″ in the last month, up a full 24″ in the last year and now 13″ above the average water level.  Connecting rivers (St. Mary’s, St. Clair, Detroit, Niagara) are all expected to have above average water flow into the month of February.  The higher water levels have already caused some damage.

Also:  Lake Michigan Shipboard Science Workshop for 4th-12th grade teachers, DNR warns of risky ice, nice satellite pic. showing the lake-effect clouds with northwest winds, ice-dunes forming, the recovery of the Detroit and St. Clair Rivers, the beautiful, but dangerous shoreline in winter (nice pics. at link), Coast Guard works at keeping Great Lakes open for shipping in winter, DNR working to improve Atlantic salmon survival rate, Arctic air makes the Great Lakes steam, shipwreck update and Lake Michigan MODIS satellite picture from Saturday.

Winter Weather Advisory

December 19th, 2014 at 1:16 am by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

advisory   Winter Weather Advisory for Barry, Eaton, Ingham, Calhoun and Jackson Counties until 8 am for freezing drizzle and a few icy spots on the roads.

Great Lakes

November 28th, 2014 at 3:06 am by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

Lake Michigan Nov. 17 2014 Jack Martin   Click on the pic. to enlarge.  This is from Jack Martin from nearly 2 weeks ago.  There’s just a hint of the famous “Gales of November” in this picture.   The water level of Lake Michigan/Huron was unchanged last week.  It’s down 1″ in the last month, but up a whopping 21″ in the last year.   The lakes remain 6″ above their historic average level.  The water level of Lake Superior is down 3″ in the last month, up 10″ in the last year and 7″ above the historic average.  Lake Erie has also dropped 3″ in the last month.  Erie is 8″ higher than one year ago and 6″ above the average November level.  Lake Ontario is the exception, down 4″ in the last month, down 5″ in the last year and is now 4″ below the century average level.  Lake St. Clair is 11″ higher than one year ago and 6″ above the long-term average.  Temperatures this month have been well below average over most of the Great Lakes region.  This has also been a month with record snowfall at many locations, including Grand Rapids, Marquette and S. Ste Marie.   Most of that has been lake-effect snow.  Flow out of Lake Superior into Lake Huron down the St. Mary’s River is expected to continue to be “well above average”.  The flow from Lake Huron down the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers will continue at above average levels, as well as flow from Lake Erie into Lake Ontario down the Niagara River and from Lake Ontario out the St. Lawrence River.

The buoys have been taken out of Lake Superior and Lake Ontario.  Both the north (west of Leelanau, east of Door Co.) and south (between Holland and Milwaukee) are both still in the water and they both report a water temp. of 41.5°.   The N Lake Huron buoy shows 41.2° and the S. Lake Huron buoy has a water temp. of 42.6°.  There is one buoy in Lake Erie on the Canadian side (Port Stanley) and that shows 43.2°.

Look at these beautiful pics. of the St. Joseph Lighthouse by Tom Gill in the Daily Mail paper in London, England.

Grand Rapids has had 4 minutes of sunshine in the last 6 days.  That’s an average of 40 seconds of sunshine per day!


Blizzard Bowl

November 25th, 2014 at 1:42 pm by under Bill's Blog, News, Sports, Weather

On Nov. 25, 1950 Michigan and Ohio State met for what has been called the “Blizzard Bowl” or the “Snow Bowl“. Check out the film of the storm here and here. Michigan won the game 9-3 despite gaining only 27 yards of offense in 46 plays. They had no first downs, didn’t complete a pass and punted 24 times. In fact, there were 45 punts in the game. Both teams mostly tried two runs then punted on 3rd down, so in case the punter slipped, they could try again on fourth down. Only 2 of the 45 punts were returned (for a total of 8 yards). That was mostly because the return man couldn’t find the ball. Most just hit the snow and stopped without bouncing. There were only 10 fumbles in the game. The temperature at the start of the game was +10° and the wind was howling out of the north-northeast. One Ohio St. player remarked that he was supposed to go down and block a linebacker, but when he ran downfield he could find him! All the points were scored after blocked kicks in the first half. Several hundred Boy Scouts were on the sidelines helping to sweep snow off the field so the officials and players could find the yard markers. Most of the state of Ohio got 10″ or more of snow, with reports up to 33″ and drifts up to 25 feet! The temperature in Grand Rapids that morning reached -10°F, the coldest temperature ever recorded here in the month of November. (photo – OSU library)

Freezing Rain Advisory!

November 21st, 2014 at 11:39 am by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

advisory   The National Weather Service has issued a Freezing Rain Advisory for the entire area.   The Advisory runs from 4 am to 9 am (and the icy conditions could last beyond 9 am – especially on gravel roads).  The ground is cold and ice is certainly going to be an issue.  We may get a little sleet at the start.  Watch 24-hour news 8 at noon for an update and keep reading the blog – I have some fresh threads below this one.

Winter Storm Warning until 9 pm

November 17th, 2014 at 4:07 am by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

advisory  Click on the graphics to enlarge.nohrsc  A Winter Storm WARNING (pink color on the map on the left) will be in effect for most of the area until 9 pm Tues.  It’s a Winter Weather Advisory for the counties along US 127 plus Montcalm, Mecosta, Osceola, Branch and Hillsdale Counties.  This is for a combination of significant snowfall, strong winds, blowing and drifting snow, low wind chills (especially by November standards), low visibilities and hazardous driving.  We could see snowfall from 1-2″ in Southern Branch and Hillsdale Counties, to a foot with 2+ foot drifts downwind from the fattest part of Lake Michigan.   Again, I do anticipate quite a few school closings for Tuesday.  There are Gale Warnings for the Lake Michigan shore areas.  Here’s a map of NAM model snowfall and GFS model snowfall.  See links in threads below.  Roads will be snow covered and slippery.  Temperatures will be in the upper teens to low 20s tonight and tomorrow (average high temp. for today is 47°).  The afternoon G.R. National Weather Service discussion says there is a possibility of isolated thunder and lightning in the heaviest snow showers tonight!

On the right, the Monday morning snow cover map shows that the Continental U.S. has a 50.4% snow cover!   This is the most snow on the ground that I can remember this early in the season.  It’s more than 20% above the 10-year average for Nov. 17th.    There were snow flurries all the way down to Dallas, Texas on Sunday – the first time it’s ever snowed in Dallas on any Nov. 16.  Here’s snow on the ground this morning in Kentucky.  The surface weather map shows the cold air that’s coming.   At 8 am it was 24° in G.R. and only 10° in Milwaukee with a wind chill factor of -5°.  As the snow picks up, roads will get very slick.  Tornado last night in Blountsville, Florida.  Two injuries were reported.  The tornado hit the Panhandle State Prison, where about 30 cars were damage (some flipped).  Significant  building damage there.  Almost 7 inches of rain in parts of Alabama over the past 24 hours.  Here’s snow on the ground in Cincinnati (snowday for the Cincinnati Reds!)Snow on the ground in Oklahoma and Tennessee.

At 5:45 pm – Quite variable conditions, with some heavy snow showers and just a few flakes in between the snow showers. Downwind from the fattest part of Lake Michigan, I could easily see some spots getting a foot or more of snowfall total by Weds. evening with 18-24″ drifts.  When the wind is stronger, the heaviest lake-effect snow can fall inland from the lake, with lesser amounts at the shoreline.   Roads will become very icy as the snow picks up in intensity.  Temperatures are in the upper teens to low 20s with wind chills in the single figures.   Colder than average weather setting up for the winter in the populated areas of the Northern Hemisphere…Eastern U.S., Europe and China.

Tweet from Joe Bastardi:  “Weatherbell showing similar set up to 1976,with enso from Sept hurricane activity, n hem snow cover. Similar conditions, similar results.”  The winter of 1976-77 was the coldest G.R. has seen in the last 110 years.  If we get early cold, lots of ice on Lake Michigan could minimize lake snow and lake warming.  This is the kind of winter when we have a chance of having an Arctic high pressure center park over us with clear skies and calm winds – we could challenge all-time record low temps. (-24° for G.R., set in 1899 – G.R. made -22F in Jan. 1994).

Winter Storm Watch!

November 16th, 2014 at 3:53 pm by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

advisory   The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Watch for most of West Michigan from Monday afternoon through Tuesday evening.  The Watch will likely be upgraded to a Warning.  The NWS warns of “heavy lake-effect snow, strong west winds, blowing and drifting snow, wind chills down to zero, possible whiteout conditions, dangerous driving conditions”.  Read the G.R. NWS discussion.  It says:  “INSTABILITY BECOMES EXTREME AS THE ARCTIC AIR SPILLS IN FROM THE  WEST AND (Lake Michigan) WATER TEMPERATURES ARE LARGELY IN THE MID 40S. THUS A CONSIDERABLE RESPONSE FROM THE LAKE IS EXPECTED… IF 500 MB TEMPERATURES DO  FALL TO COLDER THAN MINUS 40 OVER THE LAKE…AS SHOWN BY THE NAM  AND GFS (models)…THAT IS DRY ADIABATIC UP TO THAT LEVEL…WHICH IS VERY UNUSUAL. MODELS SHOW INVERSION HEIGHTS CLIMBING TO OVER 15,000  FT…WITH STRONGER OMEGA IN THE DGZ. ALL THIS SPELLS HEAVY LAKE EFFECT SNOW. AS THE COLDER AIR WRAPS AROUND THE SOUTHERN END OF LAKE MI…ENHANCED LOW LEVEL CONVERGENCE IS LIKELY TO LEAD TO AN I-94 BAND OF SNOW…EXTENDING WELL INLAND TOWARD BATTLE CREEK AND CHARLOTTE…IT LOOKS TO ME LIKE CONDITIONS WILL DETERIORATE CONSIDERABLY FOR THE EVENING COMMUTE MONDAY. THIS IS WHEN TEMPERATURES FALL INTO THE UPPER TEENS TO LOW 20S…INSTABILITY INCREASES CONSIDERABLY AND MIXING HEIGHTS  DEEPEN. MOST LOCATIONS WILL SEE GUSTS OVER 30 MPH. THAT COMBINED  WITH HEAVY LAKE EFFECT SNOW SHOULD LEAD TO CONSIDERABLE BLOWING SNOW AND THUS A RISK WHITEOUT CONDITIONS. THUS AN INCREASED POTENTIAL  FOR HIGHWAY PILEUPS…ESPECIALLY FOR PORTIONS OF I96…I196 AND  I94. POSSIBLY FOR THE MONDAY EVENING COMMUTE…BUT MOST LIKELY FOR  MUCH OF TUESDAY.  It won’t be much better on Weds.  I’ve mentioned for several days that we’ll see school closings on Tuesday (and maybe Wednesday).  Travel Monday will be better early than late.  Travel Monday night and Tuesday may be difficult and time-consuming. NAM  The wintry pattern will last much of the week.  Gale Warnings will be in effect for the Lake Michigan shoreline.       Also:  WOW – latest CFS model says cold winter for much of the U.S.   Bittersweet Ski Area staying open ’til 9 today (Sun.).

NAM model forecast snowfall, GFS model forecast snowfall, NWS snowfall forecastLower Michigan snow forecast map.


Coldest in 127 years of record!

Winter Weather Advisory, Sat. Night and Sun.

November 14th, 2014 at 3:34 pm by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

advisory   Winter Weather Advisory for Allegan, Ottawa, Kent, Muskegon, Newaygo, Oceana, Mason and Lake Counties from 7 pm Sat. to 4 pm Sun.  for over 6″ of snow.  I’ll bet someone gets 10″ out of this…with much less snow where the wind misses Lake Michigan, southeast of a line from Benton Harbor to Ionia to Mt. Pleasant.  The cold shot coming Mon. – Tues. looks impressive with snow, drifting snow and strong winds.  Bet there will be some schools closed on Tuesday (maybe even a few on Monday), esp. in the lakeshore counties.  Check out European model snowcover for next Tuesday evening – is it January yet?

Also:  7.6” of snow falls in Boise, ID, breaking the record for most snow in a November storm.  Inferior mirage at sunsetSnow on the mountaintops in E. TennesseeFreezing fog along the Missouri River in Bismarck ND this morningFall colors in N. AlabamaFall colors and the skyline of Birmingham.   What a cold week for the first half of Nov.  Lake-effect clouds over Lake Erie.

Great Lakes Water Levels

November 14th, 2014 at 3:19 am by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

North American Snow Cover  snow gile wisconsin nws duluth This is the Thurs. AM North American snow cover map.  19.8% of the Continental U.S. had a snow cover.  You can see the lake-effect snow on the ground downwind from the Great Lakes with the prevailing westerly wind.  The picture on the right is from Gile, Wisconsin (from NWS Duluth) where they are (as of midnight) up to 49.3″ of snow for the week!

The water level of Lake Michigan/Huron has dropped nearly 2″ in the last week.  The level is unchanged in the last month, 20″ above the level of one year ago and 6″ above the long-term average.  Lake Superior is down 1″ in the last week and also unchanged in the last month.  Superior is now 11″ above the level of one year ago and 9″ above the century average for November.  Lake Erie is down 2″ in the last month, up 7″ in the last year and stands 8″ above the long-term average.  Lake Ontario is down 5″ in the last month, down 5″ in the last year and 1″ below the century average.  Lake St. Clair is down 1″ in the last month, up 12″ in the last year and 9″ above the long-term average.   Flow out of Lake Superior down the St. Mary’s River should remain “well above average” for the rest of 2014.  Flow on the Detroit and Niagara Rivers is expected to remain above average.

Also, the satellite loop from S. Dakota was showing lake-effect clouds and flurries coming off the ponds on the Missouri River!  Shades of the high water levels of 1986-87Killer Shrimp!   Submarines in Lake MichiganStorm and big waves cause color change to Lake MichiganErosion damage to Lake Huron shoreNaming a bridge for a hockey starSpace Station to give CATS scan to the Great LakesYabby prohibited!