Illinois Long-Track Tornado(es)

April 10th, 2015 at 3:35 am by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

WREX2  WREX3WREX4  Looks like one of the tornadoes was an EF4.  They have now confirmed two fatalities, both female, one 67 years old and the other 69 years old.  There were roughly 22 injuries.  There was some lead time, so many people had a matter of minutes to find shelter.  At least one long-track wedge tornado cut a path that appears to be about 50 miles long across Northern Illinois.  The twister appears to have begun east of Dixon, north of I-88.  It hit Flag Center, Fairdale and crossed I-39 south of Lindenwood traveling past Kirkland.  Several vehicles were flipped on the interstate.    What was probably a second tornado hit up near Belvidere, where the zoo was heavily damaged.  Baseball-sized hail accompanied the storms.    Video here and here.  Pictures here and here.  There were over 230 severe reports on Thursday, including 14 tornadoes and a measured wind gust to 91 mph at the harbor at Waukegan IL – on the other side of Lake Michigan.  Here’s a wide view of damage at Fairdale.   At one point 58,000 customers were without power in N. Illinois.  The animals that were killed at the Summerfield Zoo were an emu and a black swan.  Many fences were down and it took awhile to round up the frightened animals.  Damage to the zoo was estimated to be at least $200,000.  A GoFundMe Account has been set up to take donations for repairs at the zoo.   Yesterday was the most active day at the Storm Prediction Center with 7 tornado watches and 8 severe t-storm watches issued.

California Gets Some Rain and Snow

April 8th, 2015 at 3:37 am by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

California Rain Shasta LakeCalifornia Tornado David Plank 4 7 15 Glenn Co. Click on the images to enlarge. On the left is a map of the significant rainfall in S. California on Tuesday. San Francisco had 0.59″, a daily record for April 7, Oakland picked up 0.68″ and Sacramento had 0.80″. Napa recorded 1.55″, Eureka 1.61″ and the most I saw was at Honeydew with 2.48″. There were lane closures on Highway 101 near Monterrey. There were thunderstorms that produced funnels and hail that piled up several inches deep. The picture on the right is a funnel/tornado from David Lawrence Plank and the Sacramento NWS.  Check out this funnel cloud over Sacramento.  In the center, we have the water level graph from Shasta Lake, the biggest reservoir in California. The water level is up a little over an inch in the last 24 hours and is now at 59% capacity, compared to an average of 72% capacity for the date. Notice that the reservoir is significantly higher than the low water level of 1977 (red line on the graph).  Here’s a look at reservoir status in CaliforniaCalifornia’s population has increased significantly, largely due to immigration.  Much of California is arid to semi-arid and as population increases, there is increased pressure on a limited amount of moisture.  Desalinization is expensive, but may become necessary.  The Israelis do that and even use some of the water for agriculture.  Here’s a nice pic. of a rainbow over San Francisco as the storms pushed to the east.  Here’s rain moving into Los Angeles CoLightning in the U.S. on Tues. – note the lightning in Central CA.  Snow falling in Yosemite N.PMore Sierra snow.

April 3, 1956 – Hudsonville/Standale Tornado

April 2nd, 2015 at 10:35 pm by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

hudsonville tornado Today, April 3rd, 2014, is the anniversary of the strongest tornado ever to hit the state of Michigan. The strongest wind on the surface of Earth in 1956 was on Van Buren Street in Hudsonville, Michigan on April 3, 1956. There were 17 fatalities (13 in Hudsonville) and 340 were injured. Take a moment and watch this YouTube film, pictures and map of the twister and this color film of the deadly storm. The tornado was rated F5, one of 59 F5 and EF5 tornadoes in the U.S. since 1950. There has been one in Canada. The tornado path was at least 48 miles continuous from Vriesland to Trufant in Montcalm Co. The twister was as wide as four football fields at one point! The first of four significant tornadoes that day came onshore off Lake Michigan at Saugatuck and destroyed the lighthouse there. That was an F4 tornado! It dissipated east of Holland with the Hudsonville-Standale tornado forming shortly thereafter, more than likely from the same parent storm. Another tornado struck near Bangor and stayed on the ground for 55 miles before lifting near Alto in SE Kent Co. That tornado injured twelve. Another tornado killed two in Benzie Co. Click here for more links to learn about other tornadoes in Michigan that day and the weather situation that produced them. Ernie Ostuno of the GRR NWS wrote a fantastic book on the event which you can order here (a great gift for someone interested in tornadoes, storms or weather). Here’s the Flicker Pictures that a commentator linked to. Today is also the anniversary of the Super Outbreak of Tornadoes in 1974. Here’s the article that NWS Meteorologist Ernie Ostuno wrote about the storms. Film of the damage. More film hereDocumentary on the storm.

1 Dead, Dozens Injured in OK Twisters

March 25th, 2015 at 8:27 pm by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

Mammatus better KFOR 3 25 15   Oklahoma Hail KFOR 3 25 15 WOW!  Check out the hail here!    Tornadoes, large hail and strong winds have hit Oklahoma, SE Kansas, SW Missouri and NW Arkansas.  Seven tornadoes have been reported…one in Sand Springs resulted in one fatality at a mobile home park and dozens of injuries…and another in Moore (a town that has had 2 EF5 tornadoes in 1999 and again in 2013 – path of Weds. tornado at link, the twister crossed I-35.  Cars were flipped on in both directions on I-35).  Three other tornadoes touched down in NW Arkansas.  Hail as large has softballs was reported in Tulsa, where schools will be closed today (Thurs.), winds hit 80 mph in the town of Westport and over 78,000 customers are without power in Oklahoma.  Flooding is also reported  Here’s SPC storm reports.  Follow the storms on KFOR in Oklahoma City and KJRH in Tulsa.  (pics. from KFOR).  SSEO forecast tornado likelihood wellRadio tower destroyedGas station destroyedGymnastics studio destroyedPic. of Tulsa/Sand Springs tornado.

2.9 magnitide earthquake northwest of Chicago.  Wednesday, Verkhoyansk, Siberia, saw its first day above freezing since Oct. 5, that’s 171 days ago!  Cherry blossoms in Birmingham ALWhat a difference a day makes – in Colorado.

No Severe Weather

March 20th, 2015 at 2:55 am by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

NONE    From the Storm Prediction Center:  ”
NORMAN, Okla. During a month when severe weather typically strikes, this March has been unusually quiet, with no tornado or severe thunderstorm watches issued by NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center so far. And, National Weather Service forecasters see no sign of dramatic change for the next week at least.

We are in uncharted territory with respect to lack of severe weather”, said Greg Carbin, SPC’s warning coordination meteorologist. “This has never happened in the record of SPC watches dating back to 1970.”

Since the beginning of 2015, the SPC has issued only four tornado watches and no severe thunderstorm watches, which is less than 10 percent of the typical number of 52 tornado watches issued by mid-March. The approximately 20 tornadoes reported since January 1 is well below the 10-year average of 130 for that time period.

There is no one clear reason to explain the lack of tornadoes, Carbin said. “We’re in a persistent pattern that suppresses severe weather, and the right ingredients — moisture, instability, and lift — have not been brought together in any consistent way so far this year.”

Forecasters expect a change soon, however. April and May are typically the busiest months for severe weather and tornadoes. Patterns can change in a few days, Carbin said, and it’s important to be prepared for severe weather when it occurs.

Analysis of the ten lowest and ten highest watch count years through the middle of March reveals little correlation to the subsequent number of tornadoes through the end of June. For example, early 2012 was particularly active with 77 watches issued through mid-March. The subsequent period through the end of June was unusually quiet for tornadoes with about 130 fewer EF1 and stronger tornadoes occurring than what would normally be expected. On the other hand, 1984, with a relatively low watch count of 28 through mid-March, became more active and by late June had about 100 EF1 and stronger tornadoes above the long-term mean of 285.”     From Keli Pirtle at SPC

The Great Tri-State Tornado – 90 Years Ago Today

March 18th, 2015 at 1:00 am by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

Tri State Tornado Newspaper  Tri State Tornado Path  Tri State Tornado Damage  Today (March 18) is the anniversary of the worst tornado in U.S. history (in 1925). It set records for longest tornado on the ground (219 miles) , most fatalities (695), fastest forward speed (average 56 mph, nearly 75 mph at the beginning). The twister crossed the Mississippi River about 75 miles southeast of St. Louis, moving from Missouri, across southern Illinois and into Indiana. The tornado followed a railroad line, destroying towns (four towns were completely destroyed) that had sprung up along the railroad. The twister averaged 3/4-mile wide and at times was over a mile wide. Survivors described the approaching storm as a rolling, boiling fog. Fires set by the tornado could be seen 60 miles from the tornado’s path.

A few years ago, my wife and I drove along the path of this storm and stopped at libraries and city halls to see what I could learn. At a mine, the entire above ground structures were destroyed, trapping miners underground (they were later rescued. Nine schools were destroyed and 69 children lost their lives that day. There were 2027 recorded injures (not counting those who were not counted at overcrowded hospitals). Fifteen thousand homes were destroyed. The twister occurred before the F-scale for rating tornadoes was established, but there is agreement that this one was an F5. Seven other tornadoes caused fatalities that day, another 52 other deaths in tornadoes that occurred in northern Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky and southern Indiana. Thorough new and continuing research has found no break in the path and also that the tornado touchdown may have occurred approximately 15 miles before previously thought, bringing the total path length to around 234 mi. Damage from the tornado totaled nearly 17 million dollars, which adjusted for inflation would be close to 2 billion dollars today.


Aurora Tonight!

March 17th, 2015 at 3:30 pm by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

Aurora Michael Gaven Gun Lake 3 17 15  7:40 pm Weds. – The kp-index is at a 5.  Yesterday we were up at an 8.  Five is pretty marginal for the casual viewer to see anything here in S. Lower Michigan.  If you saw the Northern Lights, it would likely be a faint greenish-white glow, a little above the northern horizon.   We also have a layer of thin cirrus clouds that may dim the view.    So, don’t hold your breath on seeing anything much tonight.  Keep in mind, we’re closer to the Equator than we are to the North Pole, so seeing the Northern Lights in Southern Michigan is rare.

Photo of the aurora last night is from Michael Gavan at Gun Lake. Click to enlarge. Here’s pics. from Jay near Sand Lake. From  “…A CME (Coronal Mass Ejection)  hit Earth’s magnetic field on March 17th…the “storm” intensified to G4-class (Kp=8), ranking it as the strongest geomagnetic storm of the current solar cycle.     Kp=8 would be a very nice visible aurora for all of Michigan.  Watch the Kp index here (scroll down, left side) and here and here.  Where it was clear late last night, there was a good view of the aurora from Wisconsin and Minnesota/South Dakota.  Check out the national satellite loop to follow clouds (link is daytime, use this loop at night).   A nice green aurora was appropriate for St. Patrick’s Day!   We’d appreciate any photos of the aurora you get – you can email them to:   We’ll make a photo-mojo out of them.   The best aurora pics. seem to be coming from Northern Europe.  Here’s a pic. from Marquette, one from New Zealand (the Southern Lights) and one from Finland.

They saw the Aurora in EuropeLook at the aurora in Alaska!  Solar storm  appears to have caused a rogue GPS-scintillation-causing plasma bubble in western Pacific.  Don’t be alarmed.

Also:  A 6.6 magnitude earthquake occurred 84.51mi NW of Kota Ternate, Indonesia.   Nice double rainbow from Colona, Colorado.

Great Lakes Ice Breaking Up

March 13th, 2015 at 1:17 am by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

Boardman River TVC Michelle Olin 3 15 Lake Michigan Michelle Olin Winter Homestead ResortHere’s a couple of great pics. from Michelle Olin.  The first is the calm-as you-will-ever-see-it Boardman River in Traverse City just before it empties into Traverse Bay.  The second is from the Homestead Resort looking out over the  frozen bay.   Great Lakes ice cover as I write this is at 64.3%. The link will give you the latest ice extent. The ice cover on all the Great Lakes is slowly breaking up and melting. Ice extent on the Great Lakes usually peaks in early March. Right now ice extent stands at 36.2% on Lake Michigan…for Lake Superior 75.6%, Lake Huron 74.8%, Lake Erie 92.9% and Lake Ontario (31.7%). Lake Erie is the southernmost Great Lake, but usually gets the highest percentage of surface ice cover, because it’s a relatively shallow lake (average depth 62 feet).  Check out the graph of ice extent this season for lakes Superior, Huron, Erie and Ontario. Compare Great Lakes ice today to Great Lakes ice one year ago. Here’s a year-to-year comparison for Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. Great Lakes ice cover peaked last year on March 6th at 92.5%, a little below the record of 94.7% in 1979.    Zoomed in pic. of West Michigan showing the snow cover and ice on Lake Michigan.

The water level of Lake Michigan/Huron is steady in the last month, but up 21″ in the last year. The lake(s) are 7″ above the March average water level. Lake Superior is down 2″ in the last month, but up 8″ year-to-year. Superior is still 8″ above the historic average for March. Lake Erie is down 3″ in the last month, down 1″ in the last year and now 5″ below the average for March. Lake Ontario is down 5″ in the last month, down 6″ year-to-year and it’s 11″ below the long term average.  Lake St. Clair is up 2″ in the last month. The water levels in general are dropping due to below average non-lake-effect precipitation and the fact that it’s been below freezing, so the precipitation sits on the ground as snowcover rather than draining into the lakes. The water flow over Tahquamenon Falls slowed to almost nothing a week ago of the intense cold this winter.

Great Lakes news:  Eagles on Lake Macatawa…100 years ago, the worst disaster ever on the Great LakesLake Michigan salmon populationtwo gray wolves cross the ice from Canada to Isle Royale…the latest from Boatnerd.

Also- Volcano erupting in Costa Rica

Warmest Day Since December

March 11th, 2015 at 7:37 pm by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

modis lake michigan  Modis Lake Superiormodis lake ontariomodis lake huronmodis lake erie                With clear skies across the Great Lakes, here’s an excellent view of each lake (from MODIS/NOAA Coastwatch).  Note the brown bare ground showing up in Wisconsin and even over toward Saginaw Bay.  The ice is breaking up in the northern section of Green Bay and being pushed east by the prevailing wind.   There is more open water now on Lake Superior and Lake Huron, with some open water at the west end of Lake Erie.  Note the two biggest Finger Lakes (Cayuga Lake and Seneca Lake) never did freeze over.  That’s because they are very deep lakes.  Seneca Lake (on the left in the picture) has an average depth of 291 feet and a maximum depth of 618 feet (nearly three times deeper than Lake Erie).  Seneca Lake also has major springs, releasing 328,000 gallons of water per minute.  That helps to keep the water moving, also preventing it from freezing over in winter.  As of this afternoon, Lake Michigan ice cover was at 33% and the Great lakes at 68%.

Wednesday was the first 50-degree day of the year in G.R. and the warmest day since Dec. 23rd.  This is also the first time since Jan. 23-25 that we have had 3 days in a row with above average temperatures.  It’s also the first time since November that we have had 5 days in a row that reached 40 degrees.  Despite that, March 1-11 is still 6.4 degrees colder than average in G.R.  G.R. has not had a minimum temperature above 32 degrees since 12/27.   Another sunny, beautiful day today (Thurs.), enjoy.

Also, this is the latest we’ve gone into March without a severe thunderstorm or tornado watch anywhere in the U.S….46 from March 1-11 last year and last year was a low-count year for tornadoes.  Bill says…it’s going to ramp up in April.   Four tropical cyclones in this satellite pic.  The big one is Pam.   Blizzard Warning for Hawaii!!  Check out the ice piled against the interstate bridge in Toledo.

Lake Michigan Ice Cover

March 5th, 2015 at 12:03 pm by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

lake michigan ice cover 2014-15 season    lake michigan ice cover 2015lake michigan ice cover 2014 Today, Lake Michigan ice cover stands at 52.3% (middle image). You can see by the graph on the left, that Lake Michigan ice cover peaked at the end of February. Strong winds broke up some of the ice. A little more reformed last night. It will be breezy tomorrow (Fri.). Mean temps. will stay below freezing (barely) through the weekend. Next week, it will likely be a little cooler over the lake than on land. We may have very well hit peak ice on Lake Michigan.. The Coast Guard reports they’ve run into a few spots on the Great Lakes where the ice is up to 8 feet thick (boulders) and that will take time to melt. The Great Lakes as a whole are at 80.4% ice cover, compared to 91% on 3/5/14. Lake Michigan was at 91.9% on 3/5/14 (image on the right) .