The Winter Weather Warning and the inland counties of the Winter Storm Warning have now been put into a Wind Chill Warning. That will be in effect until 11 am. The Winter Storm Warning for the lakeshore counties continues until 10 pm. If the snow continues to ease back and shift a little west, the lakeshore counties will also switch to a Wind Chill Warning after 10 PM. The Blizzard Warning for Berrien and Cass Co. plus much of N. Indiana will continue until 10 pm. At 8 pm, moderate to heavy snow was reported at Muskegon and Benton Harbor. Within the past hour, winds gusted to 36 mph at S. Haven and 32 mph at Ludington. Grand Rapids is 6° with a wind chill of -13°. The north wind continues to bring down colder air. At Mackinac Island, they report a temperature of -8° with a wind chill of -31°. Pic. on the left is the MODIS Western Great Lakes satellite picture from this afternoon. You can see the dominant lake-effect band starting over Lake Superior and getting “double feeded” over Lake Michigan before pounding the east shore of Lake Michigan. Click on the images to enlarge.
Shiverin’ Snowman! The GFS (caribou) gives G.R. a low temperatures of -24.1°F next Sunday morning!! I don’t think I’ve ever seen it forecast a temp. that low for G.R. Keep in mind that the coldest we’ve ever officially been in G.R. is -24° and that was waaaaaay back on Feb. 13 and 14, 1899! In recent decades, the coldest in G.R. was -22°F in Jan. 1994. The GFS-plot has -23°. The European model gives G.R. low temps. of -6° Tuesday am, -12° Friday am, -10° next Sunday am and -8° on the 18th. To get that cold it generally has to be clear and calm at night with fresh snow on the ground and a very cold air mass. Since we haven’t been colder than -22° in the last 116 years, it’s likely that the model is too cold, so take the model with a grain of snow. The European would give G.R. 4″ of total new snow thru the 17th (that’s at the airport), the GFS (caribou) gives G.R. 5.4″ of snow (keep in mind that the model prints out snow at a 10-1 ratio of snow to precipitation…but given the cold temps. we might expect closer to a 20:1 ratio, so snowfall over the period might be up to double that. The models are forecasting extreme cold from the Great Lakes to the Northeast. In any case, this is going to be a cold period coming up. Do what you can to make sure your ready. Have a warm place for your pets/animals to be with (unfrozen) water, have the firewood ready to go if you heat with wood, feed the birds – the long stretches of cold, snowy weather can be hard on them, make sure fire hydrants are clear, make sure your vehicle and furnace are ready for the cold. The image is the Climate Prediction Center’s 8-14 day outlook issued Sunday PM. Note the dark blue, indicating a near certain chance of below average temperatures over the Eastern U.S. over the next two weeks. It’ll be interesting to see the extent of ice on the Great Lakes by around 2/21.
Also as of 1 am, Boston officially up to 8.3″ for the storm so far. That’s 57″ in the past 2 weeks! On the cusp of breaking the 30-day all-time snow record with two weeks to go! About 1,400 US flights already canceled for Monday, inc. over 400 at Logan Airport in Boston. They’ll likely go over a foot from this storm. Storm battering northern California. Trees, power lines downed across parts of Mendocino County, CA. Much of the country was unseasonably warm Sunday afternoon. High temps Sunday: 71 Richmond VA, 57 Indianapolis, 68 St. Louis, 62 Billings MT, 64 Rapid City SD, 80 in SW Oklahoma.
So far this winter, New York City has had more snow (20.1″) than Anchorage, Alaska (17.6″). Very fluffy snow was experienced at NWS Marquette on 2/8. The snow to water ratio was 74″ of snow to 1″ of water. Saturday, Marquette had 9.2″ of snow. CFSv2 model looks cold for March – I personally think the cold here is too extensive. Cool is probably the way to go over the Great Lakes, which will have a substantial ice cover as we start March. You’ve heard me say it before and I’ll say it again, if ever you want a cool pattern…it’s late winter/early spring…to keep the blossoms from coming out too soon and to keep tornadoes south of our area. Florida gets cool this weekend.
From NBC News: “The Taliban considered forecasting to be sorcery. They fired the country’s 600 or so professional meteorologists, shelled the Afghan Meteorological Authority, and burned the country’s vast climatological archives.”
Click on the images to enlarge. These are the MODIS satellite pictures from this afternoon (from NOAA Coastwatch). On the left is Lake Michigan, in the center we have Lake Ontario and on the right is Lake Erie. Great Lakes ice is now up to 57%. We don’t have quite as much ice as last year at this time, but ice cover is still well above average. The middle image is a graph of weekly ice cover this season. The ice cover usually peaks in early March and and with the colder than average air this coming week…we are seeing ice cover reach the average maximum nearly a month before the average date of peak ice. On the right, we have Lake Michigan ice cover, which stands at 36% as of this Thursday evening. Here’s the current ice extent for Lake Superior (56% as I write this), Lake Huron (67%), Lake Erie (95%) and Lake Ontario (33%). 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).
The water level of Lake Michigan/Huron is down 1″ in the last month, but up 21″ in the last year. The lake(s) remains 8″ above the January average water level. Lake Superior is down 4″ in the last month, but up 9″ year-to-year. Superior is now 9″ above the historic average for February. Lake Erie is down 5″ in the last month, up 5″ in the last year and now 3″ above the average for January. Lake Ontario is down 1″ in the last month, down 4″ year-to-year and is now 2″ below the long-term February average. It’s curious that Lake St. Clair dropped 16″ in the last 4 weeks. That’s due to a build-up of ice constricting the flow out of Lake Huron into Lake St. Clair. 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. All the connecting rivers between the Great Lakes are running at above average flow, except for the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers, where volume has been reduced due to ice build-up at the South end of Lake Huron. The Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw is helping to ease pressure in the St. Clair River area. The water level of Lake Superior is at the highest level since 1997 and the level of Lake Michigan-Huron is highest since 1998.
Great Lakes news: Obama budget cuts Great Lakes clean-up budget by 50 million dollars. Keep a lookout for snowy owls. For the 2nd winter in a row, the owls are coming farther south than usual. Pretty pics. of Lake Michigan in winter. Wind turbines threaten eagles and other endangered species.
Great Lakes ice cover has reached 50%. This is a little behind last year at this time (around 72%), but ahead of average. Here’s the latest figures for the individual lakes: Superior (45.2 as I write this – link will update), Michigan (35.6%), Huron (61.6%), Erie (93.9%), Ontario (31.5%). Here’s a record of Lake Michigan ice cover this winter. Last year on this date, the Great Lakes had a 71.6% ice cover and Lake Michigan was at 41.4%. Lake Erie has about the same amount of ice as last year in the first week of February and Lake Ontario has more ice than at this time last year. This year the coldest air has been centered a little farther east than last winter, where the coldest air relative to average was in Wisconsin.
Also, a plane has crashed into a TV tower in Lubbock, Texas, one fatality – the pilot of the small plane. The JAMSTEC and CFSv2 weather models are forecasting a cool early spring the the Great Lakes. More significant snow for New York and New England. Afternoon run of the GFS model snowfall forecast. Some snow for us, but heavier snow for N. Minnesota, the western U.P and New England. New England viewed from the Space Station.
First, check out what happened four years ago today! Here’s more on the Groundhog Day Blizzard, and the Wikipedia Article on the Storm. Today is Groundhog Day. Legend has it that if the groundhog sees his shadow this morning, there will be six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t, winter is pretty much over (which is really hardly ever the case on Feb. 2 in Michigan). It all began in Germany with hedgehogs and badgers. The Pennsylvania Dutch (who are really German) didn’t see any hedgehogs or badgers when they arrived in Pennsylvania, so they gave the prognosticating assignment to the local groundhog, or woodchuck (BTW, someone figured out how much wood a woodchuck could chuck).
The most famous groundhog is Punxsutawney Phil. Phil’s been giving us the long-range forecast from Gobbler’s Knob in Pennsylvania since 1887. Phil’s recent predictions are posted here. Phil correctly did predict six more weeks of winter in 2012 and 2014, but missed with his early spring forecast in 2013. Phil has predicted six more weeks of winter 102 of the last 116 years. Today he saw his shadow (despite cloudy skies in Punxsutawney) and proclaimed six more weeks of winter (good call Phil).
Feb. 2 is also Candlemas Day. An old saying goes: “Half the wood and half the hay, better have left on Candlemas Day”. Of course, that means that if you have half your winter provisions left at this point…you’ll make it through the winter.
Side note: You may have seen the movie Groundhog Day, with actor Bill Murray playing a TV weatherman (the movie was filmed partly in Woodstock, Illinois – about 45 miles from where Bill Murray and I grew up – he lived about 3 blocks from me on Elmwood Ave.). Bill and I went to St. Joseph’s Elementary School in Wilmette, Illinois. We caddied together, though he caddied mostly at Indian Hill C.C. and I caddied mostly at Westmoreland C.C. He’s one year older than me. Here’s a review of the movie “Groundhog Day”.
I hereby predict that Phil will see his shadow, hence 6 more weeks of winter. BTW, any groundhog that might consider coming out of its burrow here in G.R. will have to dig through a foot of snow to see daylight. Punxsutawney Phil has his own website. They’ll announce Phil’s prediction on the TODAY SHOW this morning and we’ll probably have a little story on 24-Hour News 8 at Noon and maybe at 5:30 pm.
Winter Storm Warning upgraded to include Ottawa, Kent, Ionia and Clinton Counties. Click on the graphics to enlarge. Last pic. is Meijer’s Sat. aftn.- every checkout backed up. GFS model snowfall map. NAM model snowfall map. Winter Weather Advisory is in purple color, Winter Storm Warning in pink color. Here’s details on the Winter Weather Advisory and the Winter Storm Warning. Here’s the Forecast Discussions for West Michigan and Northern Indiana. The Advisory/Warning continues until 6 am Monday morning. So, this will be a long duration event. The NWS is going for accumulations of 7-11″ for the Counties in the Warning, tapering off to 1-3″ for Mason, Lake, Osceola and Clare Counties. Accumulations of 10 inches or more are possible for the counties that border Indiana and large parts of N. Illinois, N. Indiana and N. Ohio, including the cities of Chicago, S. Bend, Fort Wayne and Cleveland. Not only will will have to deal with the snow, but temperatures will be cold enough (teens to low 20s) for the light snow to drift around in the 20-30 mph wind gusts that we’ll see. Obviously, this is going to cause some pain for those of you traveling to and from Super Bowl Parties. The Chicago NWS is going for 5-10″ of snow for NE Illinois. Here’s the Midwest Watch/Warning/Advisory Map. The heaviest snow may occur along and just south of I-80. Here’s the weather impact graphic from GRR NWS. There is a Gale Warning for Southern Lake Michigan. The NWS is calling for peak waves approaching 10-18 feet. With a northeast wind this will be mainly for NE Illinois and a small part of the shoreline of SE Wisconsin. Here’s the video briefing from NWS for northern Indiana and the Michigan counties that border Indiana. There’s a Winter Storm Warning out now for ALL of NE Illinois. Milwaukee NWS has upgraded to Winter Storm Warning (Kenosha/Racine/Milwaukee areas) and Winter Weather Advisory to match the more northerly storm track. Northern Ohio will be upgraded to a Winter Storm Warning this afternoon. GRR NWS snowfall forecast map. Cold air will pour in with a northeast wind behind the storm. It was as cold as -44 degrees in central Quebec this (Sat.) am.
Keep in mind that for wet, heavy snow – about 8″ of snow = one inch of water. For dry, light snow – apt to fall at cooler temperatures, the ratio increases to 15″ or even 20″ of snow per one inch of water. The overnight European model gives G.R. 0.81″ of precipitation. So, at 10 to 1 that would be equivilant to 8″ of snow. At a 15 to one ratio, that’s about 12″ of snow (and that’s more likely with this storm). For Big Rapids, the European model gives Big Rapids 0.34 of precipitation – so maybe 4-5″ (though even 2″ with 20 mph winds is going to cause some drifting problems). Now, for Kalamazoo at the Indiana border – it gives 1.03″ of precipitation. At 15-1 snow to water, that would be over 15″ of snow – a very major snowstorm. Storms like that are rare. But, a foot of snow with 20-30 mph wind gusts could easily bring 2-3 foot drifts and some major travel problems.
Also: After the blizzard earlier this week – New Jersey and Long Island get freezing rain from this storm. Heavy snow north of the freezing rain for New York and New England. Boston could get another foot of snow. Parts of Maine will end up with 40 inches of snow on the ground following the Saturday storm. NOAA ranks this weeks East Coast Blizzard as 26th of 423 Northeast snowstorms. Remembering the Blizzard of 1988. Cold and snowy pattern for much of Europe, blizzard now in the mountains of Scotland. The cold air extends all the way into northern Africa. Friday was 2nd wettest Jan. day ever in Tucson AZ with 1.39″ of rain. Nice (and rare clear) sunset in Seattle looking back at snow-covered Mt. Rainier. Lake-effect snow coming off the Finger Lakes in N.Y. with NNW wind. Now that’s a red sunset! Cool light pillar in Idaho.
Click on the images to enlarge. On the left is Great Lakes ice cover now compared to past years on this data. We don’t have as much ice as last year at this time, but ice cover is still well above average. The middle image is a graph of weekly ice cover this season. The ice cover usually peaks in early March and and with the colder than average air this coming week…we could be seeing ice cover reach the average maximum nearly a month before the average date of peak ice. On the right, we have Lake Michigan ice cover, which stands at 21.5% as of Thursday evening. Here’s the current ice extent for Lake Superior (25.2% as I write this), Lake Huron (48.3%), Lake Erie (94.1%) and Lake Ontario (22.1%). 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).
The water level of Lake Michigan/Huron is down 2″ in the last month, but up 21″ in the last year. The lake(s) remains 8″ above the January average water level. Lake Superior is down 4″ in the last month, but up 9″ year-to-year. Superior is now 6″ above the historic average for January. Lake Erie is down 3″ in the last month, up 6″ in the last year and now 4″ above the average for January. Lake Ontario is up 2″ in the last 2 months, down 4″ year-to-year and right at the January average. It’s curious that Lake St. Clair dropped 17″ in the last 3 weeks. That’s due to a build-up of ice constricting the flow out of Lake Huron into Lake St. Clair. 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.
At 8 am - The wind at the airport on Nantucket Island gusted to 78 mph overnight! Much of the island is without power. Wind gusts hit 74 mph at Aquinnah MA and 70 mph at Sagmore MA. Also, 65 mph gust recorded in Charlestown, RI. The peak wind gust in NYC has been 38 mph. We have not reached blizzard criteria in NYC or New Jersey. The heaviest snowfall so far is 25″ at Worcester MA. Boston has had 15″ and NYC reports 11″ at LaGuardia and 8″ at Central Park (hard to measure with the wind and drifting). They’ve had gusts to 60 mph and up to 25″ of snow on Long Island around Mattituck. Islip reports 21″ of new snow. Heaviest snow zeroed in on Long Island and SE MA. There was one report of thundersnow in SE Mass. Here’s snow totals from the New York City/Long Island area, the Boston area and current conditions in the East. I’m on the LOW side of the snowfall totals for NYC….so, a pretty decent storm, but NOT NEAR the worst storm ever for NYC – it’ll be a little stronger from Long Island to the the MA coast up to the north into SE ME. The light red color on the map here is the Blizzard Warning for coastal NJ, NY, CT, RI, MA, NH and ME – including New York City and Boston. It’s from Monday evening through Tuesday PM for 12-30″ of snow plus wind gusts up to 70 mph (mainly at the coast or over the open water).
Here’s the official NWS definition of a blizzard: “A BLIZZARD WATCH MEANS THERE IS A POTENTIAL FOR CONSIDERABLE FALLING AND/OR BLOWING SNOW WITH SUSTAINED WINDS OR FREQUENT GUSTS OVER 35 MPH AND VISIBILITIES BELOW 1/4 MILE FOR AT LEAST 3 HOURS.” Note that it’s based on wind and visibility and not a specific amount of snow falling. You can have a blizzard with a snowfall of one inch and not have a snowstorm with a snowfall of three feet. NWS says “ALL UNNECESSARY TRAVEL IS DISCOURAGED BEGINNING MONDAY AFTERNOON…LIFE-THREATENING CONDITIONS AND EXTREMELY DANGEROUS TRAVEL DUE TO HEAVY SNOWFALL AND STRONG WINDS…WITH WHITEOUT CONDITIONS. SECONDARY AND TERTIARY ROADS MAY BECOME IMPASSABLE. STRONG WINDS MAY DOWN POWER LINES AND TREE LIMBS.” Here’s a NWS PowerPoint on the coming storm. Flurries down to N. Georgia. Here’s New York City radar. There’s a Hurricane Force Wind Warning for gusts to 70 knots (80 mph) and 25 foot waves. Here’s a southern New England weather map and some current weather observations. United Airlines cancels all Tuesday flights at Newark, JFK, LaGuardia, Boston and Philadelphia. Cold shot follows blizzard. This storm will not be quite the catastrophe as the Blizzard of 1888. NYC has 1,806 plows and more than 126,000 tons of salt. I hope Bill Nye reads this link.
Elsewhere…rain showers for much of Southern California. You can follow on SW radar. Gust to 59 mph from severe t-storm in Tuscaloosa AL. Double rainbow in Jasper AL. Sunshine and 40 below zero at Fairbanks (low sun angle near noon).
The early Monday overnight GFS-plot shows 0.31″ of precipitation for G.R. (mainly or all snow) for Weds. night/Thurs. AM and another 0.09″ for Sat. PM/night (all snow). The GFS (car) gives G.R. 3.3″ of snow mainly Weds. night. The European isn’t in yet…and I’m tired and hitting the sack – more in the AM. Pretty cold start to this Monday…some single figures and below zero temps. (mainly northern Lower MI) this morning.
Click on the picture to enlarge. This is a pic. from Randy Feister at Pere Marquette Park in Muskegon. Thanks, Randy. The water level of Lake Michigan/Huron is down one inch in the last month, up 21 inches year-to-year and 8″ above the long-term January average level. Lake Superior is down 4″ in the last month. That’s not surprising since it’s been below freezing and the precipitation is still on the ground and not in the rivers. Superior is up 9″ in the past year and up 7″ from the century average. Lake Erie is down 2″ in the last month, up 6″ in the last year and is now 6″ above the average water level. Lake Ontario is up 4″ in the last month, down 4″ in the last year and one inch above the long-term average. Lake St. Clair is down 9″ in the last month, up 7″ in the past year and now sits at 3″ above the century average. We did a story on the unprecedented rise in the Lake Michigan/Huron water level and how it affects marinas and shipping.
Here’s the MODIS Lake Michigan satellite pic. from Thurs. PM. There was sun north of Milwaukee in E. Wisconsin and it was partly cloudy up by Traverse City. Here’s the Lake Superior shot – showing sunshine over much of the U.P. As I write this, we have 34% ice cover on the Great Lakes. That includes about 19% on Lake Michigan…19% on Lake Superior…48% on Lake Huron…82% ice on Lake Erie (shallowest lake, gets the most ice)…and 22% on Lake Ontario. They’re ice fishing at the western end of Lake Erie, 8-10″ of ice! Lighthouse pictures from West Michigan. Shipwrecks from the mid-1800s found in Lake Ontario. Ice breaking on the Great Lakes.
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 Michigan. Busiest year ever on Lake Michigan port. Asian carp update. Freighters stuck in the ice in the St. Clair River.