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) .

Winter Weather Advisory

March 2nd, 2015 at 3:50 pm by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

advisoryA Winter Weather Advisory will be in effect tomorrow for the entire area (the entire state of Michigan along with adjacent areas of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin will under an Advisory).  The Advisory will be in effect for our area from 7 am to 8 pm.  Icy roads could continue to be a problem after 8 pm as temperatures fall and there is still a chance of a little light snow or freezing drizzle through the evening.

High of 29, low of 15 today in G.R.  That makes 19 days in a row that the average temperature has been 8 or more degrees colder than average.

MODIS satellite pictures

February 27th, 2015 at 1:42 am by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

modis lake michiganModis Lake Superior  modis lake huron These are MODIS satellite pics (from NOAA Coastwatch) of Lake Michigan, Superior and Huron from Thursday PM. You can see a band of lake-effect snow coming down Lake Michigan. That band produced up to 8″ of snow in Chicago and 6″ in Milwaukee. There is still quite a bit of open water on Lake Michigan, but Huron and Superior are iced up enough to end the threat of lake-effect snow. You’d still get a small amount of warming (maybe 2-3 degrees) with the air moving across those lakes. That band of snow over Lake Michigan has been coming into Berrien Co. As the wind turns west and then southwest, the band will come onshore and dissipate. A dusting of snow is possible near the lake. Most of the day should be partly sunny and cold.

Great Lakes iceTotal – 84.1%, Superior – 94.9% , Michigan 58.9% , Huron 95.2% , Erie 95.6%Ontario 53.6%, (links will update automatically with fresh numbers).  This is the first time since the late 70s that we have had two consecutive years with Great Lakes ice reaching 80%. The strong winds we had on Tuesday didn’t break up much ice.   Here’s Great Lakes water temperature over the past 5 years.

Great Lakes water levels:  Lake Michigan/Huron is down one inch in the past month (precipitation is for the most part sitting on the ground and not running off into the rivers with the cold temperatures), up 21″ in the last year and it’s now 8″ higher than average for late Feb.  The level of Lake Superior is down 2″ in the last month, up 8″ in the last year and 7″ above the long-term average.  Lake St. Clair is down 3″ in the last month, down 1 inch in the past year and 3″ below the century average.  Lake Erie is down 4″ in the last month, up one inch in the last year and exactly at the long-term average.  Lake Ontario is down 5″ in the last month (open water for decent evaporation and little runoff coming into the lake with the cold temperatures), down 6″ in the last year and 6″ below the century average.  The buildup of ice in the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers has caused the water level of Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie to drop in the last few weeks.   The outflow on the St. Marys, the St. Clair, the Detroit and the Niagara Rivers are all expected to be above average in March.

Also:  Lake Superior ice caves are open to the publicSuper-Mackinac yacht race scheduled for July 11 will cover 568 milesConfederate treasure in Lake MichiganCruise ship coming to the Great Lakes this summer.

Great Lakes Ice Ahead of Last Year!

February 18th, 2015 at 9:19 pm by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

Great Lakes Ice Cover 2 18 2015   Great Lakes Ice Cover 2 17 2014  Lake Michigan Ice 2 18 15 Great Lakes ice cover is now greater than it was one year ago.  This year we are at 82.3% compared to 81.6% last year.  For the individual Great Lakes:  Suuperior 91.8%, Michigan 61.3%, Huron 92.2%, Erie 96.7% and Ontario 74.8%.   With the Arctic cold continuing thru the end of the month, we could set a new satellite era record for Great Lakes ice extent.  Wind will be a factor.  Strong winds can break up ice quickly.  Calm winds can cause ice to form and then firm more rapidly.

Wind Chill Warning

February 14th, 2015 at 8:09 pm by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

modis great lakes   advisory 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.

GFS (caribou) give G.R. a low temp. of -24.1° next Sunday!

February 9th, 2015 at 3:28 am by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather   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.”

Great Lakes Ice Extent, Water Levels and News

February 5th, 2015 at 9:40 pm by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

modis lake michigan  modis lake ontario modis lake erie 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 winterWind turbines threaten eagles and other endangered species.

Great Lakes Ice Cover Reaches 50%

February 4th, 2015 at 9:59 pm by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

Great Lakes Ice Cover    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 LakesMore 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.

Groundhog Day 2015 – Phil sees his shadow

February 2nd, 2015 at 2:01 am by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

   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.