Severe T-Storm Watch is Over for Most of Michigan

May 26th, 2015 at 2:35 pm by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

WW0220 Initial Radar image WW0221 RADAR Thumbnail ImageFunnel Montcalm Co. 5 26 15   The Severe T-Storm Watch has been cancelled for everyone except far NE Lower Michigan (north of Saginaw Bay)

Severe reports:  Possible funnel cloud in Montcalm CoAnother picAnother pic.   Here’s video clearly showing a rotating wall cloudPossible wall cloud in Isabella Co.  Gust to 60 mph at Quincy in Branch Co.  Reports of trees down at Elm and Quarterline in Newaygo.  Small hail reported near Battle Creek.  (Unhealthy-looking) tree down on car in Lansing.    Rainfall from 2 pm – 8 pm:  0.85″ Kalamazoo, 0.68″ Muskegon, 0.65″ Holland – Boatwerks, 0.61″ Holland Airport, 0.61″ Rockford, 0.53″ Hudsonville, 0.44″ Hudsonville, 0.38″ Eberhard Center – downtown G.R., 0.38″ here at WOOD, 0.34″ Lansing, 0.34″ Big Rapids, 0.24″ Grand Rapids.

There are two Severe T-Storm Watches. We have one that covers most all of Lower Michigan (not Berrien or Cass Counties and another Severe T-Storm Watch until for Branch, St. Joseph and Hillsdale Counties in Michigan, for much of Eastern Indiana and for Western Ohio. The main threat is isolated damaging wind.   A FEW SEVERE THUNDERSTORMS WITH HAIL SURFACE AND ALOFT TO 1-INCH (not a high risk of hail). EXTREME TURBULENCE AND SURFACE WIND GUSTS TO as high as 70 mph. Individual storm movement southwest to northeast at 35 mph with the line(s) progressing from west to east across the area.  Chance of rain – very high.  Chance of severe (60 mph winds or 1″ hail) in any one spot – low.  We’ve heated up near 80 deg. (pretty good instability).  Dewpoints up into the low-mid 60s – so we have available moisture.  Surface map shows marginal convergence.   Not a lot of lightning so far, many areas just getting rain showers.   Over 70 severe reports in the U.S. today.

Looks like a cool weekend…could be breezy, chilly and wet Sat. AM – No frost, wind should hold up Sun./Mon. mornings…but low 40s possible.

Links:  Check out the GRR NWS discussion and the latest surface map. Check out Regional radar. Here’s GRR radar, local lightning data, SPC meso-discussions and current watches and a satellite loop. Here’s current Michigan temperatures, National lightning data and the latest discussion from Milwaukee NWS. Here’s National Storm Reports.

Mt. St. Helens Volcano – 35 Years Ago Today

May 18th, 2015 at 1:47 am by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

Today (May 18) is the 35th anniversary of the biggest (and there were a handful) explosion of Mt. St. Helens, the last big volcano in the Lower 48 states. The picture on the left is the mountain before the explosion (center). The image on the right is damage to trees. The explosion that occurred on May 18th, 1980 at 8:32 AM local time destroyed 4 BILLION board feet of timber, enough to build 300,000 homes. The initial blast-thrust was 300 mph. According to the USGS, the landslide caused by the collapse of the northern slope of Mount Saint Helens was the largest debris avalanche on Earth in recorded history. Within 15 minutes ash was blown into the stratosphere to a height of 80,000 feet. The ash cloud passed over Grand Rapids two days later (I have a slide I took of the ash cloud, which looked like a thick, uniform cirrus cloud layer) and circled the globe in 15 days. Ash accumulation was 10″ deep ten miles from the volcano and 1″ deep sixty miles from the volcano.The height of the mountain was reduced by 1,314 feet. The blast began with a 5.1 magnitude earthquake. Fifty-seven people were killed that day, 250 homes, 47 bridges, 15 miles of railway and 185 miles of roads were destroyed. Here’s more factsmore pictures, a link to the National Monument website, and the Wikipedia article.

Here’s links to a few other active volcanoes:   the Pavlof volcano in Alaska.  Popocatepetl in Mexico.  Mt. Mayon in the Philippines   Shiveluch in far east Russia. We still have the more prominent erupting volcanoes like Mt. Etna in Italy and Kilauea in Hawaii.

Kalamazoo Tornado – 35 Years Ago Today!

May 12th, 2015 at 11:28 pm by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

kalamazoo tornado woodtvkalamazoo tornado twokalamazoo tornado map Click on the images to enlarge – Thirty-five years ago today, an F3 (158-206 mph) tornado cut an 11-mile path from eastern Van Buren right through downtown Kalamazoo. In 20 minutes, the storm left 5 dead and 79 injured. Damage totaled 50 million dollars (that’s 1980 dollars). Three hundred homes and 150 businesses were severely damaged or destroyed.  Video of the tornado here, here, here and here.   There was significant damage to Gilmore’s Dept. Store and dozens of trees were toppled in Bronson Park.   Here’s an overhead picture of the park after the twister.   There’s more information here and  here. Here’s more pictures, and here’s a map of the tornado’s path.  Here’s a pic. and summary from the G.R. NWS.  Four more pics. (including helicopter shots of the damage) here.    Please feel free to share a comment or a link to your pictures of the tornado or its aftermath.

Two Major Earthquakes Today

May 12th, 2015 at 5:48 pm by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

Equake Nepal 7.4    E-Quake Japan Two major e-quakes today.  The first a 7.3 magnitude e-quake in Nepal.  This one was 47 miles east of Kathmandu (the 4/25 earthquake that was magnitude 7.8 was 48 miles west-northwest of Kathmandu).  Today’s quake was 10 miles deep.  It occurred at 12:50 pm local time and 3:05 am EDT.  At least 68 fatalities have been reported, 50 in Nepal, 17 in India and 1 in Tibet.  Over 1,100 have been injured.  The quake was felt as far away as New Delhi, India and Dhaka, Bangladesh.   There have been significant aftershocks, one of magnitude 6.3.   An American Huey helicopter with as many as 8 on board is missing.  The aircraft was involved with disaster relief.

The second quake is preliminary magnitude 6.8 and occurred just off the east coast of the Japanese island of Honshu, 21 miles SE of Ofunato and 256 miles north of Tokyo.  No tsunami is expected.  This earthquake was a fairly deep, 24 mi. under the surface.  The quake occurred at 6:12 am local time and 5:12 pm EDT.  The closest nuclear power facilities reported no problems.

Here’s where you can find a list of all the earthquakes in the last 24 hours that were magnitude 2.5 and above.  It’s definitely been an active day.

Also – waterspout near Galveston this PMWinter Storm Watch for the Sierra Nevada Mts. of California for up to a foot of new snow.  Pretty wet pattern for much of the U.S. – including showers for S. California!   Board embedded in roof - in the Van, TX tornado.  The last major hurricane to strike the U.S. was Wilma in 2005 (longest period of time ever without a major hurricane hit on the U.S.  Winds gusted to 76 mph in Tokyo, Japan as Tropical Storm Noul swept through. Also over 2.0 in of rain.   The “permanent drought” that isn’t.  24-hour rainfall:  7.11″ Corpus Christi TX, 2.00″ McAllen TX, 1.67″ Houston TX, 1.18″ Del Rio TX, 1.70″ Columbia SC, 1.51″ Montpelier VT.   Look where the roof wound up!   An orange roll cloud at sunset.   Incredible lightning in India viewed from outer space.   Barrow, Alaska finally climbed to 33, above freezing for the first time in 2015.

Through 5/12 – the last 5 days we’ve had just 7.8% of possible sunshine…at least a trace of rain on each of the last 5 days and 7 of the last 9 days.   Tuesday was the coolest day since 4/23.   Peak wind gusts Tues:  37 mph Lansing, 35 mph G. Rapids and Battle Creek, 33 mph Charlotte and Mt. Pleasant, 32 mph Alma, 31 mph Jackson.

Tornado Watch Ends For Michigan

May 11th, 2015 at 2:35 pm by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

WW0164 RadarThere’s still a few showers…east of Lansing to east of Marshall.  The last showers will exit Calhoun and Branch Counties shortly.  The last shower came thru G.R. around 7:40 pm.

The Tornado Watch for portions of Eastern Indiana, Northern and Western Ohio and Northern Kentucky expired at 8 pm EDT.   There is still a line of storms moving through Eastern Ohio.    It’ll become partly to mostly cloudy and breezy behind the front.

We’ve had some marginal severe hail and wind with the storms in eastern Indiana and Ohio (1″ diameter hail and 60 mph winds).  Here’s SPC storm reports – minor wind damage in Wayne and Monroe Counties in SE Michigan.

Also:  A helicopter view of the flooding Trinity River in downtown Dallas TXEl Nino intensifying…  Survey crews have determined a prelim rating of EF-3 in Van TX from last night’s tornado…up to 6 fatalities now in Southern tornadoes.  27,000 people are without power across western Pennsylvania.

Rainfall today:  0.3″ G.R., 0.53″ Muskegon, 0.65″ Holland, 0.28″ Kalamazoo, 0.25″ Battle Creek.   Monthly rainfall:  3.02″ Holland, 2.9″ Kent City, 2.43″ Kalamazoo, 2.39″ Battle Creek, 1.90″ Muskegon, 1.73″ Grand Rapids.

Major Earthquake – Possible Tsunami

May 4th, 2015 at 10:06 pm by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

earthquake    Magnitude-7.4 earthquake strikes 85 miles off the coast of Papua New Guinea – depth just 6 miles.    No Tsunami Watch, Warning or Advisory in effect at this time.  Here’s the tsunami statement.  Time:  9:44 EDT.  Shakemap.  We’ve also just had a 3.8 magnitude e-quake in central NevadaHere’s where you can see the latest global earthquakes.

4.2 Earthquake!

May 2nd, 2015 at 12:30 pm by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

equake shake map – MOST SIGNIFICANT EARTHQUAKE IN WEST MICHIGAN IN MANY DECADES (since 1947 I think – if anyone knows otherwise send me an email).  …upgraded to magnitude 4.2.  The earthquake has been felt in five states.   It was the Headline on Drudge.  Centered 8 km (5 miles) south of Galesburg, Michigan, 9 miles SE of Kalamazoo and 14 miles WSW of Battle Creek.  Largest e-quake in Michigan history was magnitude 4.6 in 1947.  This may be the strongest centered in Southern Michigan since the ’47 quake.  A 3.4 magnitude earthquake occurred  on Sept. 2, 1994.  That was centered northwest of Lansing and felt in Grand Rapids.    The ’47 earthquake was centered very close to this one.   Here’s earthquake history in Michigan.  Here’s the geology of Michigan quakes.   Time around 12: 23 pm.   Right around the full moon.  Leave a comment if you felt it, esp. if you know of any damage.  If you have damage or know of damage, call us at 1-800-8WOODTVIf you have video – maybe security cam video of he shaking – let us know at that same phone number.     Felt throughout S. Michigan.  Also felt in NW Ohio and N. Indiana and the Chicago area.  My cats were terrified.  Strongest e-quake I’ve ever felt in my almost 64 years.   Click on the image map to enlarge.  Aftershocks are possible…up to 3.1, so you could feel an aftershock.  If you heard sirens, a few communities are testing sirens this afternoon.  That’s not related to the earthquake.  WMU’s commencement was just about to begin when the e-quake hit.   I’ll be in the studio covering the quake on the news tonight – watch me at 6 pm and 11 pm on WOOD and 10 pm on WXSP.    Earthquake distance:

  1. 8km (5mi) S of Galesburg, Michigan
  2. 12km (7mi) E of Portage, Michigan
  3. 15km (9mi) SE of Kalamazoo, Michigan
  4. 23km (14mi) WSW of Battle Creek, Michigan
  5. 92km (57mi) SW of Lansing, Michigan

Also:  #BREAKING: #Tsunami advisory just issued for Japan’s Izu Islands due to a shallow M5.9 #earthquake that struck at 12:51pm US EDT.   Death toll from Nepal Earthquake now up to 7,050.  OK, this is funny.    This earthquake was not caused by or related to hydraulic fracturing (aka “fracking”).  There has been no fracking in Kalamazoo or Calhoun County (see map at link).  Read here about hydraulic fracturing in Michigan from the Michigan Dept. of Environmental Quality.  Michigan seismic hazard map.


Earthquake History

The earliest record of earthquake tremors felt in Michigan Territory (statehood came in 1837) were from the great series of shocks centered near New Madrid, Missouri in 1811 and 1812. As many as nine tremors from the New Madrid earthquake series were reported felt distinctly at Detroit.

A damaging earthquake, apparently centered between Montreal and Quebec in the Saint Lawrence Valley, occurred on October 20, 1870. This shock was felt over an area estimated to be at least a million square miles including Sault Sainte Marie.

Between 1872 and 1883 a number of moderate earthquakes were centered within Michigan. On February 6, 1872, three shocks lasting 30 seconds were reported at Wenona. No additional information is known about these tremors. Reports from Redford and Greenfield Village, not far from Detroit, indicated a minor earthquake occurred on August 17, 1877. It was noted that horses were frightened during this shock. Some persons reported hearing a noise like a train. On February 4, 1883, an earthquake cracked windows and shook buildings at Kalamazoo (intensity VI). This shock was felt in southern Michigan and northern Indiana. Cities as distant as Bloomington, Illinois and St. Louis, Missouri also reported feeling this earthquake.

The destructive earthquake that hit Charleston, South Carolina on August 31, 1886, was felt as far north as Milwaukee, Wisconsin and probably in parts of Michigan. On October 31, 1895, Charleston, Missouri experienced a major earthquake. Considered the severest shock in the central U.S. region since the 1811 – 1812 earthquakes, the 1-million-square-mile felt area included parts of Michigan. A moderate earthquake of intensity V was felt at Menominee on March 13, 1905.

A series of unusual occurrences in the Keweenaw Peninsula mining area form a significant part of the seismic history of Michigan. The first disturbance was on July 26, 1905 at about 6:20 in the evening. At Calumet there occurred what appeared to be a terrific explosion. Chimneys fell with a crash and plate glass windows were broken (intensity VII). The explosion was heard far down in a mine and the shock was felt all over the Keweenaw Peninsula area and as far away as Marquette, about 70 miles southeast across Lake Superior. Ten months later, on May 26, 1906, a similar phenomenon occurred. Train rails were twisted, and there was a notable sinking of the earth above the Atlantic mine. The disturbance was reported felt over an area about 30 to 40 miles in diameter. Another shock occurred in the same region on January 22, 1909. A rumbling tremor was felt around Houghton and was believed to be caused by the crushing of pillars in a mine.

The earthquake of August 9, 1947, damaged chimneys and cracked plaster over a large area of south-central Michigan and affected a total area of about 50,000 square miles, including points north to Muskegon and Saginaw and parts of Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. The cities of Athens, Bronson, Coldwater, Colon, Matteson Lake, Sherwood, and Union City in the south-central part of the State all experienced intensity VI effects. Reports of damage to chimneys and some instances of cracked or fallen plaster, broken windows, and merchandise thrown from store shelves were common over the epicentral area.

A number of other earthquakes centered outside the State have been felt in Michigan. Noteworthy among these are the following:

February 28, 1925
St. Lawrence River region northwest of Murray Bay (La Malbaie), Quebec, Canada; felt area approximately 2 million square miles; intensity V at Grand Rapids, Newberry, and Whitefish Point, Michigan.

November 1, 1935
Timiskaming, Quebec, Canada; 1-million-square-mile felt area; intensity V at Alpena, Hillman, Mount Clemens, Pellston, and Port Huron, Michigan.

March 2 and 8, 1937
Western Ohio; 150,000-square-mile felt area (second shock); felt at many places in southern Michigan.

September 4, 1944
St. Lawrence River region between Massena, New York and Cornwall, Ontario, Canada; 175,000-square-mile felt area (in the U.S.); felt at Alpena, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Lansing, Saginaw, and Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan.

November 9, 1968
South-central Illinois; felt area approximately 580,000 square miles (including all or portions of 23 states); felt throughout southern Michigan.

Here’s a list of earthquakes felt in Michigan, but (mainly) centered outside the WOOD viewing area…note the 4.5 e-quake in Celina, Ohio on July 12, 1986


Great Lakes Water Levels and More

May 1st, 2015 at 2:39 am by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

muskegon glerlsouth haven glerlalpena glerl Here’s 3 pics. from the GLERL cameras from Thurs. (from NOAA Coastwatch). On the left is sunset at Muskegon.  The middle pic. is South Haven.  Note the difference in water color on either side of the breakwater.  On the right, the camera happened to click just as the shipwreck tour boat went out of the channel.  This is a great time for viewing the shipwrecks because the water is clearer now than it is in the summer.   We had a high temperature of 63 in G.R. on Thursday.  The high temperature at the S. Haven beach was 42.8.  At the Chicago GLERL station (2.75 miles out into Lake Michigan), the high temperature was 44.4 at 11:59 pm and the low temperature was 39.2 at 2 pm in the afternoon.  At 2 pm they had a 22 mph north wind and a wind chill factor of 29.

Lake Michigan/Huron is up 4″ in the last month, up 15″ in the past year and the lake is 4″ above the century average for May.  Lake Superior is up 6″ in the last month, up 8″ in the last year and Superior is 8″ above the May average.  Lake Erie is up 7″ in the last month, up 1″ in the last year nd one inch lower than May 2014.  Lake Ontario is up 13″ in the last month, down 11″ in the last year and is now 9″ below the century May average.  Lake St. Clair is up 4″ in the last month, up 7″ in the last year and is 3″ above average.

Great Lakes ice is down to 5.7% as we start the month of May.  Lake Superior is at 11.1% ice coverage, mainly just north of S. Ste. Marie.  Rounded to the nearest tenth of a percent, Lake Michigan is at 0.0%, though there are still a few chunks of ice in Little Traverse Bay near Petoskey.  Lake Huron is at 5.8% ice cover – mainly in the North Channel.  Here’s the percentage of ice cover for the winter for the Great Lakes for each winter since 1980-81.   The winter of 2013-14 tops the list, with 1993-94 in second place, then this past winter (2014-15) in third place.   Here’s ice cover on the Great Lakes each year on 4/30.  Last year really stands out, but this year we again come in third place.   Here’s ice cover by week through this winter.   Here’s the record of ice on Lake Michigan this winter.  Here’s the winter ice record for lakes Superior, Huron, Erie (note how quickly that ramped up in early January) and Ontario.

Also:  The alewife population in the Great Lakes is dropping and this spells trouble for salmon.  I grew up in Wilmette, ILL and remember the massive number of dead alewives along the shore of Lake Michigan in the 1960s.  Mirages on Lake MichiganMirage photos.   Leech-nado!!!

Nepal Earthquake – 6.7 Magnitude Aftershock -4250 Dead

April 25th, 2015 at 4:05 pm by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

equake nepal   Over 4250 fatalities have been reported in the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal early Saturday morning.  The final death toll may reach 10,000 or more.  The quake was magnitude 7.8 and was centered 48 miles west-northwest of the capital of Kathmandu (population 1,442,000).  The quake was 9.3 miles below the surface.  Fifty aftershocks have been reported, including a major 6.6 quake that occurred 34 minutes after the initial strong quake and a 6.7 magnitude earthquake that occurred Sunday morning.  This is the strongest earthquake in Nepal in over 80 years.  Large earthquakes along the Himalayan Thrust (between the India and Eurasian plates) have been rare.  Only four quakes of magnitude 6 or larger have occurred within 155 miles of the April 25, 2015 earthquake over the past century.  A Magnitude 6.9 earthquake in August 1988, 149 miles to the southeast of the April 25 event, caused close to 1500 fatalities. The largest, a magnitude 8.0 event known as the 1934 Nepal-Bihar earthquake, occurred in a similar location to the 1988 event. It severely damaged Kathmandu, and is thought to have caused around 10,600 fatalities.   At least 17 people died on Mt. Everest, mostly through rockslides and avalanches.  The Dharahara Tower, built in 1832 collapsed.  At least 50 were killed there.  More on the history of earthquakes in the region hereThe quake was felt strongly in neighboring areas of India, Pakistan, Bhutan and Tibet.   Here’s a preliminary estimate of loss of life and dollar damage.  Here’s the latest from the BBCWorld’s strongest earthquakes since 1900.  There are many organizations providing relief.  Here’s one.

The “Year Without a Summer” after the tremendous explosion of Mt. Tambora in April 1815.   Great video of the 4/9 Rochelle, IL tornado.  Lots of debris in this tornado.

50th Anniversary – Palm Sunday Tornadoes

April 11th, 2015 at 2:46 am by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

Palm Sunday Tornadoes Paul Huffman picture  palm sunday tornado house on edge Today is the 50th anniversary of the famous Palm Sunday tornado outbreak of April 11, 1965.  TONIGHT (Sat.) a very special commemorative free program will be held at the Kenowa Hills High School Performing Arts Center on Four Mile Road NW – doors open at 6:30 pm, program at 7 pm.  Dr. Russell Schneider, Director of the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma will be providing the keynote address at the April 11th 50th anniversary commemoration. Dr. Schneider will look back at the 1965 tornado outbreak and talk about how tornado forecasting has advanced in the 50 years since.  I will be there.  I hope some of you will be there, too.  Check out this special facebook page for more information and lots of additional pictures and information on the Ottawa/Kent tornado that day.

It was the second-biggest tornado outbreak in world history. This is a picture of a rare double-tornado near Elkhart, Indiana (by Paul Huffman). This twin-tornado moved into the Midwest Trailer Park, where 33 people lost their lives.  The second picture of the house on edge is from Lee Nelson after the F4 tornado in Kent Co.  There were 271 fatalities that day and 1500 were injured. 47 tornadoes were reported in five states, including 12 in Michigan. An F4 tornado moved from Ottawa Co. near Allendale through Walker and Comstock Park (crossing Alpine Ave. at Six Mile Road. The 21-mile long twister caused 5 fatalities and 142 injuries. That tornado crossed the path of the 1956 Standale Tornado on Samrick just north of West River Dr in Comstock Park. Two F4 tornadoes struck Branch and Hillsdale Counties 30 minutes apart with 21 lives lost. The twisters moved across Coldwater Lake, Devils Lake, Manitou Beach and Baw Beese Lake destroying hundreds of cottages and homes. A wind instrument near Tecumseh measured a wind of 151 mph in the 2nd tornado. The loss of life would have been much worse, but for the fact that it was still too early for the summer influx of cottage owners and the fact that many residents had left for evening Palm Sunday church services. An F4 tornado north of Lansing left one person dead and there was a tornado fatality near Middleville in Barry Co. Other tornadoes that day hit north of Kalamazoo (17 injured there), near Hastings, Bay City, Unionville and 2 tornadoes struck Alma. After this event, the Weather Bureau began the Watch/Warning system that is still in use today. Read more here, here, and here. That year we had record snowfall and it was quite cold in March. Please leave a comment if you have a personal story to tell about that dreadful Sunday. Final note: Here’s a radar loop of the storms that produced the hail from Holland and S. Haven east across Lower Michigan last Tuesday (4/6/2010). Hail up to golfball sized fell. This thread has been moved up from last year and new comments start with #18.