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!
Click on the picture to enlarge or click here. These pictures are from the Berrien County Road Commission. Yesterday (Weds.), Grand Rapids had a snow cover of 22″. That’s the highest snowcover in Grand Rapids since 1979. The most snow ever on the ground in G.R. was 27″ after the Blizzard of Jan. 26, 1978 (when we had 15″ of snow in 15 hours). Grand Rapids has now had 59 consecutive days with 4″ or more of snow on the ground! I don’t know how close that is to a record for a 4″ snow cover. This is from Dr. Bob Ruhf, who measures snow at WMU:
1. The 42.8 inches of snow in January set a record for the snowiest January; the old January record was 39.6 inches set in 1999. It was also the third snowiest month on record. #1: 46.6 inches (December 2000); #2: 43.1 inches (December 2008).
2. The 24-inch snow depth on February 1-2, 5 set a February snow depth record. The old February record was 15 inches set on February 2, 2011. This was also one inch short of the the greatest snow depth measured for any month. The greatest snow depth measured was 25 inches set on January 6, 10-11, 1999.
3. There have been 32 consecutive days so far (January 5 – February 5) with a snow depth of 12 or more inches; the previous record for a streak of 12 or more inches was 28 days from January 10 – February 6, 2009.
4. A 25-inch snow depth was measured at 8:30 a.m. on February 5. This tied the greatest snow depth of 25 inches measured on January 6, 10-11, 1999. However, the snow depth settled to 24 inches by 11:59 p.m., the time snow depth is reported for. Officially, there was no record. Unofficially, the record was tied.
These records are based on only 16 years of data. Certainly most of these records (and other records that will be established during the remainder of the winter) would not be records if data from previous decades, such as the 1960s nnd 1970s, could be included.
The image on the right was snow depth Weds. AM. 63% of the Contiguous U.S. had a snow cover with an average depth of 6.1″. You can see the strip of 9-12″ of snowfall from Kansas to NW Ohio. Chicago is up to 59.6″ for the season. That’s the 8th snowiest winter since 1884 (with a lot of winter left to go) and the 3rd highest thru Feb. 5th).
We have also had 5 consecutive days with high temperatuers in the mid 20s. The latest European model has .08″ precip. for Sat. PM thru Sunday (an inch and a half, maybe), and about 1/2″ for Monday. The coldest temperature out 10 days on the European model is -3 next Tues. AM and the warmest is 30 on Feb. 13th. The GFS has flurries thru Fri. AM – another 0.12″ or about 2″ Sat. PM thru Sun. The first day up to freezing is 2/14 and then the model takes G.R. to 40 on 2/19 and 48 on 2/21. For today it has pretty much steady temps. around 14-17 with a 15 mph west wind…highs of 17 Fri., 19 Sat. and 24 on Sunday, then 16, 17, 20, 26, 33 for the work week next week. Also: Check out the cool pics. Bruce Doll took at Holland St. Park.
Click the images to enlarge. On the left, Environment Canada reports ice cover on the Great Lakes is at approximately 75% ice covered. This is more than double the average ice cover and we still have about a month to go until we reach the average date of peak ice on the lakes. The middle image shows ice cover at this point in winter is the greatest since 1996 and the third highest since 1980 (and may go to #1 by the end of the next week!) The picture on the right is the GLERL camera at Alpena looking out over Lake Huron. This is the latest from the U.S. National Ice Center: “Northern Lake Michigan: Open water except for consolidated thick lake ice in the northeast section of the lake, north of Beaver Island. Elsewhere in the northeastern section of the lake and along the eastern shore 9 tenths of thin lake ice including 4 tenths of medium lake ice. 4 tenths of new lake ice along the western shore. Green Bay: Consolidated thick lake ice. Southern Lake Michigan: Open water except for 9 tenths of thin lake ice within 20-30 miles of the shore from the Milwaukee to Gary. 9 tenths of medium lake ice including 4 tenths of thick lake ice along the shore from Gary to Frankfurt. Here’s the report from Environment Canada on the other Great Lakes.
The combination of Great Lakes ice, thick snowcover and a stormy spring will mean a higher potential for flooding this spring and it may mean continued increases in Great Lakes water levels. Canada looking to buy land in Detroit. Finally, thick ice means cooler Lake Michigan water this summer.
Check out the amazing video of the pyroclastic flow coming down Mt. Sinabung in Indonesia (Sumatra), and check out the “tornadoes” that develop as the hot mass slides down the mountain. (pic. from nbcnews) Also, check out the spectacular pics. of the ice storm in Slovenia. Significant and welcome rain for N. California, S. California stays mostly dry.
The Tungurahua Volcano in Equador erupted three times Saturday, sending lava down the mountain, blocking a route to the tourist down of Baños and shooting smoke and ash nearly five miles into the air. Tungurahua is a high mountain, elevation 16, 480 above sea level, higher than any mountain in the contiguous U.S. Even though it’s close to the Equator, the mountain usually covered in snow. The mountain, 87 miles southeast of the capital city of Quito, was first scaled in 1873. The mountain last erupted in 2006, when there were four fatalities and two people remain missing. Check out the pictures here and here. Also, at least 14 people lost their lives in a pyroclastic flow from the Sinabung Volcano in Samatra, Indonesia. Here’s a summary of worldwide volcanic activity.
This update from Dr. Bob Ruhf, who keeps snowfall records at W.M.U. in Kalamazoo: New snow Saturday 4.4″…snowcover 24″…season total 81.1″…difference from 16-year average +28.7″… “* This is the greatest February snow depth measured during the 16-year period of record. The previous February record was 15 inches set on February 2, 2011. This is also one inch short of the greatest snow depth measured during any month. The greatest snow depth measured was 25 inches on January 6, 10-11, 1999. This ties a record for the longest number of days in a row (28) with a snow depth of 12 or more inches. The previous record was 28 days from January 10 – February 6, 2009. Picture courtesy of the Kalamazoo County Road Commission. A shout out to all the snowplow drivers. They’ve worked a LOT of extra hours. Make sure you pay your private snowplow driver. They’ve got to pay out-of-pocket for gas and wear on the trucks and if sure helps when you pay your bill on time.
The Kalamazoo County Road Commission (KCRC) maintains 1,265.31 miles of road throughout the 576 square mile county. The primary road system consists of 449.28 miles; the remaining 816.03 miles comprise the local system. Along with our maintenance operations, we maintain 60 bridges, over 20,400 signs, 47 traffic signals and 41 flashing lights at intersections.
Some cool pictures here. Click the pictures to enlarge. The first is at the top of Mauna Loa, a tall mountain on the Big Island of Hawaii (you’d think it was Michigan, except you can actually see a little blue sky). The middle picture was the exceptionally red sunrise this morning in Chicago, looking west from 3 miles out in Lake Michigan from the GLERL camera at the Harrison Crib Water Intake. The picture on the right is the South Pole today, where they have 24/7 daylight in their summer and where the temperature hardly ever gets above zero F even on the warmer summer days! Pics. on the left and right form ERSL/NOAA.
There are 3 pictures here from Herb Harney from Wednesday. Click on the pictures to enlarge. The first is looking east at the Holland at the Holland Channel with a frozen Lake Macatawa at the top of the picture. You can see the Big Red Lighthouse and Holland State Park on the left (with the shadow of a stratocumulus cloud). The middle picture shows the ice (with fissures) about five miles offshore. The picture on the right is (I’m guessing) looking north at all the ice with the shore in the upper right. We have the most ice to this point in winter on the Great Lakes since 1994 and the second highest extent since 1979. Through 1/29, Grand Rapids is 6.7° below average for Jan. and Kalamazoo is 8.5° below average. Green Bay will be in at least 2nd place for # of below zero days. They just had 9 in a row, from the 21st to 29th and that gives them 18 for January and 11 for December (29 total). Wednesday we had 76% of possible sunshine at the GRR airport, the sunniest day of January. Despite the mostly sunny day…we have still had only 17.4% of possible sunshine since Dec. 1. Repeating an interesting fact: The only state out of all 50 states that did not have a single weather station reporting snow on the ground was MISSOURI – isn’t that weird. There were a couple of places with snow on the ground in NW Florida and the mountaintops of the Big Island of Hawaii had snow.
This picture is a quick grab this morning from the Muskegon GLERL camera Weds. morning showing lots of ice on Lake Michigan as far out as you can see. We have some open water on the right at the channel. It was clear across the lake in Chicago. With more ice on Lake Michigan, the cold air spends less time crossing open water, so the lake-effect is somewhat diminished. We had some sunshine on Weds. The big story has the wind. Weds. we had a gust to 38 mph in Grand Rapids and 39 mph in Ionia. The wind is causing drifting snow, especially in outlying, open, rural areas. It’s going to stay windy today. We should see significant drifting and some blowing snow.
The Weds. morning run of the NAM (caribou) gave G.R. 1.1″ of snow late Thurs. PM and Thurs. night (slick spots for the Thurs. evening and Fri. morning commutes…and a healthy 4.2″ during the day Saturday. Here’s the model’s predicted snowfall…first number is Thurs. evening/night and second number is Sat: Kalamazoo 1.7″/3.7″, Holland 1.4″/4.2″, Lansing 0.9″/3.0″, Muskegon 2.0″/2.7″, S. Haven 1.4″/3.8″, Ludington 2.3″, 2.6″, Mt. Pleasant 0.6″/3.9″. The first system gets a little bit of a boost from Lake Michigan…not 2″ in Muskegon and 2.3″ in Ludington and there may be a touch more boost than that…the second system is not lake-effect or lake/enhanced. The amount of snow will depend on the path of low pressure passing to our south. As it does, we stay in the cold air. We may be mid-upper 20s Thurs. night/Fri./Sat. – but we can’t seem to get a day up to our average in the low 30s. Another 1.1″ of snow since midnight at GRR, so we’re up to 78.3″ for the season – like I said, even average snowfall from here on out will bring us over 100″ for G.R. and over 120″ for the lakeshore. Go here, to the 6-hour, 1km satellite loop of Lower Michigan and you can see Lake Michigan is mostly clear this Weds. AM (I’ll find a MODIS picture later this PM to put on the blog). You can see the ice on the lake and the lake-effect clouds seem to be centered downwind from the longest stretch that the air spends over open water. It looks like Torch Lake is frozen over (a deep lake and harder to freeze over in winter) and we are starting to accumulate ice in Traverse Bay. Long range has Feb. 4-5 storm staying mostly south/southeast of us, but large high north of Montana brings more Arctic air to the Great Lakes – keeping us colder than average thru 2/14. Both the new European weeklies and the CFS model keep the cold in the Great Lakes thru week 3 (through mid-February). Here’s an oddity: Missouri is the only state in the Union that does not have some snow on the ground this morning. Snow on the beach at Gulfport, Mississippi!
From Dec. 1 to Jan. 28 – this is the 9th coldest winter so far in Chicago – avg. temp. of 19.47. Two winters really stand out for cold in Chicago, 1983-84 (15.0°) and 1976-77 (15.9°). In the climate record, seven of the top 9 coldest winters in Chicago have occurred since 1975. Only 2 occurred from 1875-1975. Reread my earlier post on average January temperature in Grand Rapids. Especially look at this graph of average January temperature by decade. We’re exactly where we were in the early 1900s. Cold pattern continues into February.
Some much needed rain for California on the way (and mountain snows). At 2 pm – Atlanta 26° – dewpoint 3° – ice preventing cars from going uphill. BTW – NWS had good Winter Storm Warnings out for snow and freezing rain. Don’t blame them for the mess down South, the storm was well forecast. More Atlanta pics. here. Yesterday (Tue.) the high temperature in Anchorage, Alaska was 44 (16 days in a row warmer than average). In Atlanta, where the average high is 53° the temperature fell from 25° at noon to 21° by evening.
Left pic. from NBC15 showing the snowy home of the Alabama Crimson Tide. Here’s South Carolina’s football stadium. Middle picture is snow on the deck of the USS Alabama at Mobile Harbor (from NWS Mobile facebook page). Right pic. from NBC15 is abandoned cars on the expressway near Birmingham, Alabama. Click on the pictures to enlarge. We had at least a trace of snow today in Houston and Galveston, Texas – Baton Rogue, Louisiana – and Pensacola and Mary Esther, Florida. Sleet fell at Victoria and San Antonio, Texas. Sleet fell in New Orleans and 3″ of snow fell in the towns of Chunky, Zero and Increase – Alabama (yeah, those are real town names). Alexandria, LA, breaks a 110-year-old record with 1.2″ of snow. I-10 from the New Mississippi River Bridge in Baton Rouge to New Orleans is closed Georgia DOT urges motorists to stay off of highways. AL Gov. Robert Bentley activates 350 National Guardsmen and urges residents to stay off roads if at all possible. Lots of pictures here. Pictures of massive traffic jams in Atlanta here. The picture here was taken at 3 am – some people have sat virtually still for 6-12+hours! Here’s I-65 in Birmingham. Note the cars that have slid off the road on the ice. Cars can’t get up hills and it creates massive traffic jams. Concrete barriers in the median, so no place to turn around. People are abandoning their vehicles. Check out the “Welcome to Florida” sign amid the snow! National Guard mobilized in GA and AL. 6″ new snow at Virginia Beach – only 20 deg.