Great Lakes Water Levels

July 17th, 2014 at 9:05 pm by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

Lake Michigan Sleeping Bear Dunes - Jack Martin July 2014   Picture from Jack Martin, enjoying the Sleeping Bear Dunes.   Lake Michigan/Huron gained another inch last week, bringing it even closer to the long-term average.  The other Great Lakes remain above their long-term averages.

Lake Michigan/Huron (one big lake for lake level purposes) is up 4″ in the last month and is up a whopping 15″ in the last year.  Since each inch of water represents 390 billion gallons, that means Lake Michigan has added 5.85 trillion gallons of water in just the past year.  This is due to a combination of above average precipitation (Grand Rapids has had 9.47″ of rain since June 1, 3.65″ above average) and lower evaporation (lots of ice this past winter).  Lake Michigan/Huron is now only 4″ below the long-term average.   Lake Superior is up 2″ in the last month and up 14″ in the last year.  Superior is now 6″ above the century average and only 6″ below the highest water level ever reached in 1950.  Lake Erie is up 1″ in the last month and up 3″ in the past year.  Erie is 5″ above the long-term average.  Lake Ontario is 4″ above the century average.  Lake St. Clair is up 2″ in the last month, up 7″ year-to-year and 3″ above the century average level.   Lake Superior’s outflow down the St. Mary’s River into Lake Huron is expected to be above average into August.  The outflow our of Lake Erie down the Niagara River is also expected to be above average.

Also, cool picturemosquito population triples (audio)…shark spotted in Lake Ontario??!!grain shipments increase on the Great LakesJuly waterspouts on the Great Lakescold water lingers in the Great Lakesheavy rains cause trash to float into Lake MichiganWSBT gets lake level story right.

Gas Price Going Up

July 15th, 2014 at 10:32 am by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

gas prices   The latest from Ed:  Due to sliding wholesale prices, there was on-going pressure to keep retail prices down.  However, wholesale prices have stabilized, and I’m seeing gas in the $3.20′s in Fort Wayne, and $3.30′s in Lowell, Michigan.  By my calculation, the price to retailers is about $3.40.  So, I’m going to fill up Tuesday morning, expecting a hike with a new price at least $3.69. — Ed A.

Dangerous Currents on the Great Lakes

July 14th, 2014 at 9:20 pm by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

structural current    The National Weather Service has issued a Beach Hazards Statement for Tuesday.   The Statement warns of high waves, dangerous swimming conditions and strong currents.   There is a danger of longshore currents, rip currents and especially structural currents.  Click on the graphic to enlarge.  This is an overhead view of Grand Haven State Park.   Structural currents occur along the breakwaters of the Great Lakes.  What we often call piers are actually breakwaters.  Technically, piers allow water to flow underneath them.  Breakwaters stop the water and are often along river outlets to prevent sand from filling in the channels.  Structural currents are not a factor on calm days, but can be deadly on windy days.  When the wind pushes the water into a breakwater, the water has no place to go.  It can’t go up on the beach, or up or down.  So a current is created that moves along the breakwater out toward open water.  With a brisk south or southwest wind the dangerous structural current is on the south side of the breakwater (Grand Haven St. Park).  With a northwest wind (which will be the case on Tuesday), the dangerous current is on the north side of the breakwater ( North Beach in S. Haven, Holland St. Park, Muskegon St. Park, Mears St. Park, Stearns Park in Ludington).   The most dangerous place in the entire Great Lakes is the south side of the breakwater at Grand Haven.  It’s more of an issue when a strong south to southwest wind because the air tends to be warmer and more people are in the water.  On days with a strong north wind like Tuesday, the air is usually colder and fewer people are in the water.   Look at the picture here – it’s best to swim well off to the right (south) away from the breakwater, especially on windy days or days with significant waves.  Most of the fatalities in the Great Lakes due to currents are on days when waves are 2-5 feet.  Waves on Tuesday are expected to be 2-5 feet.

There is always a chance of a waterspout when you have cold air coming over warm water.  This is most common from September into early November.   This year, the Great Lakes are colder than average due to both the cool spring and the cool temperatures this July (for the first two weeks of July, Muskegon is 3.7° colder than average and Manistee is a whopping 6.6° colder than average).  Waterspouts are weaker than most tornadoes and tend to dissipate as they come into shore.

Great Lakes News and Water Levels

July 10th, 2014 at 7:21 pm by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

modis lake michigan  This is a MODIS Lake Michigan satellite picture taken today (Thurs.) showing clear skies over Lake Michigan.  There is an onshore  breeze all around the lake (west wind in Lower Michigan, north wind in Indiana, east wind in Wisconsin).  With all the rain we’ve had, everything is green and crops are mostly in very good shape at this point in the growing season (picture from NOAA Coastwatch).

Lake Michigan/Huron is up 4″ in the last month, up 14″ in the last year and just 5″ below the century average (that should drop to -4 or -3 this month). Lake Superior is up 3″ in the last month, up 13″ year-to-year and is now 6″ above average level. Lake Erie is up 2″ in the last month, up 5″ in the last year and is now 5″ above the long-term average.  Lake Ontario is down 2″ in the last month, down 2″ year-to-year and is 5″ above the century average. Lake St. Clair is up 2″ in the last month, up 4″ year-to-year and is 3″ above the long-term average. Flow down the St. Mary’s River from Lake Superior into Lake Michigan/Huron will remain above average through July. River levels in West Michigan remain above average flow. The Grand River in Grand Rapids is high, but still well below flood stage at 8680 cfs compared to an average flow of 2,370 cfs. Lake Michigan beach water temperatures are in the 60s. The mid-Lake Michigan buoy west of Holland (east-southeast of Milwaukee) shows a water temp. of 63°.

Also, World’s Strangest LakesIron Ore Shipments on the Great Lakes This Year Down 17%…and 9 of the best Michigan beaches.

Finally, check out this article from yesterday…it says:  “The Council of the Great Lakes Region released a new report last week, ‘Low Water Blues,’ projecting the economic impacts of future low water levels in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River regions.  Although the report estimates a potential $19 billion in economic losses by 2050 if the Great Lakes water levels continue to decline, Stop the Drop founder Colin Dobell told The Expositor that this number won’t be enough alone to raise the alarm, stressing the need for the public to rally behind the cause in order for the government to take action.  “The report had a good, broad amount of funding and involvement across all sectors…”

Now compare that  alarmism with reality in the first paragraph above.   The Great Lakes are not “continuing to decline”…they have gone up significantly.  Lakes Superior, Michigan and Huron are all up over a foot in the last year.  Lake Superior is so high that they have upped the water release through the St. Mary’s River, which flows down into Lake Huron.   Contrast that article to this one in the Chicago Tribune.

Monday – Clean-Up

July 7th, 2014 at 10:49 am by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

damage 1   damage 4  The Grand Rapids National Weather Service has confirmed that damage in Kent County was from an EF1  tornado.  They say:  “*** 6 INJURED *** NWS STORM SURVEY CONFIRMED AN EF-1 TORNADO TOUCHED DOWN IN BYRON CENTER BEFORE MOVING INTO WYOMING AND THEN KENTWOOD BEFORE LIFTING. THE TORNADO HAD MAXIMUM WINDS OF 100 TO 110 MPH. THE PATH LENGTH WAS 6.25 MILES AND THE WIDTH WAS 300-400 YARDS.. Aerial view of storms damage from Adam Dabaja.  There is a Flood Warning for the Pine River at Alma, where the river will rise to a couple inches above flood stage.   There is a Flood Advisory for the Grand River at Ionia and the Maple River in Clinton County with the river will cause some minor flooding, but stay below flood stage.  Rainfall:  4.90″ Alma, 4.82″ McBride (E. Montcalm Co.), 3.72″ Bellevue, 3.13″ Elsie (Clinton Co.), 3.00″ Howard City, 2.74″ Ionia, 2.60″ White Cloud, 2.31″ Grand Ledge, 2.30″ Entrican (Montcalm Co.), 2.00″ Mt. Pleasant, 1.90″ Lansing and DeWitt, 1.68″ Grand Rapids, 1.44″ Hastings.  Hail was reported in Holland and Jenison.  Wind gusts hit 45 mph at the Ford Airport in G.R.   Here’s W. Michigan storm reports and rainfall totals.   As of 7:45 pm – 1,029 in Kent Co. without power, though a scheduled outage will bump that up close to 3500 for a couple hours this evening.  The path of this tornado is similar to a tornado that occurred on April 21, 1967.   That was an F-3 and destroyed 65 buildings.

Kyle Underwood viewed storm damage and called it a tornado, an EF1.  There were at least 6 injuries and the damage path goes on for at least 6.25 miles from S. Wyoming into Kentwood and far south G.R.  With these events it’s very hard to tell between tornado and thunderstorm downburst wind damage.  If the tornado had winds of 70 mph and a forward speed of 20 mph, you’d get a resultant 90 mph on the right side of the tornado and 50 mph (and hence little damage) on the north side of the tornado…so the damage would be similar with most of the debris falling in one direction.  The National Weather Service is doing a more complete damage survey and make the ultimate call.  Here’s more on the Sunday night storms from the GRR NWS.  In their summary, they say:  “In the reflectivity data, in the next-to-last frame, an area of higher reflectivity appears over Kentwood, likely indicative of lofted debris   The “lofted debris” is an indication of a tornado. Here’s a list of roads closed as they clean up debris from the storm.  Here’s photos of the storm and storm damage.   Lower Michigan is in the General Thunderstorm Outlook for this PM/Night, but not a Slight Risk Area.  Here’s Grand Rapids Radar and Regional Radar.

Also, a strong 7.1 magnitude earthquake has hit Mexico and Guatamala.  There are fatalities.

Great Lakes Water Levels

July 4th, 2014 at 2:39 pm by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

Lake Superior between MQT and Munising - Michelle Olin   Picture of Lake Superior between Marquette and Munising by Michelle Olin.  Lake Michigan/Huron is up 4″ in the last month, up 14″ in the last year and just 5″ below the century average (that should drop to -4 or -3 this month).  Lake Superior is up 2″ in the last month, up 13″ year-to-year and is now 6″ above average level.  Lake Erie is up 1″ in the last month, up 5″ in the last year and is now 4″ above the long-term average.  Lake Ontario is down 2″ in the last month, down 1″ year-to-year and is 6″ above the century average.  Lake St. Clair is up 3″ in the last month, up 7″ year-to-year and is 3″ above the long-term average.  Flow down the St. Mary’s River from Lake Superior into Lake Michigan/Huron will remain above average through July.  River levels in West Michigan remain above average flow.   The Grand River in Grand Rapids is falling very slowly and is at 4,600 cfs compared to an average flow of 2,740 cfs.  Lake Michigan beach water temperatures are in the 60s.  The mid-Lake Michigan buoy west of Holland (east-southeast of Milwaukee) shows a water temp. of 51°.

Fourth of July

July 4th, 2014 at 4:02 am by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

Flag American Happy Fourth of July or Independence Day. A little history from Wikipedia:

“The legal separation of the 13 Colonies from Great Britain actually occurred on July 2, 1776, when the 2nd Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence (from Great Britain).After voting for independence, Congress turned its attention to the Declaration of Independence, a statement explaining this decision, which had been prepared by a Committee of Five with Thomas Jefferson as its principal author. Congress debated and revised the wording of the Declaration, finally approving it on July 4. A day earlier, John Adams had written to his wife, Abigail:  “The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”

His prediction was off by two days, but it’s pretty much what many of us will do today. From the outset, Americans celebrated independence on July 4, the date shown on the much-publicized Declaration of Independence, rather than on July 2, the date the resolution of independence was approved in a closed session of Congress.  Historians have long disputed whether Congress actually signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, even though Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin all later wrote separately that they had signed it on that day. At one point during that day, it was noted the temperature was 76° and that a thundershower occurred at 4 pm.

In a remarkable coincidence, both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, the only signers of the Declaration of Independence later to serve as President, died on the same day: July 4, 1826, which was the 50th anniversary of the Declaration. Although not a signer of the Declaration of Independence, but another Founding Father who became a President, James Monroe, also died on July 4 – in 1831, thus becoming the third President in a row who died on July 4th. Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President, was born on July 4, (in 1872), and is the only President to have been born on Independence Day.”

Hurricane Arthur

July 3rd, 2014 at 12:24 pm by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

[Image of 5-day forecast and coastal areas under a warning or a watch] Hurricane Arthur has exited the Outer Banks of North Carolina today (the 4th) to the northeast and is heading toward Nantucket and Nova Scotia (then a tropical storm, not a hurricane).  Look at Highway 12, the main highway on the Outer Banks.    Nantucket should see some 60 mph gusts (note how beat up the hurricane flags are at the link).  Arthur will create rough seas all up and down the East Coast.  100-mph wind gusts have occurred on the Outer Banks of NC.  There is flooding on the Outer Banks, which are low barrier islands that have always shifted due to storms. Here’s the Public Advisory on the storm…the Forecast Discussion…the High Wind Probability Map…the Funktop Satellite view of the storm, a Visible Image of the storm (daytime only), a satellite loop of the storm and New England Regional Radar.   Combination of Arthur and old front should produce 1-3″ rains over much of New England.   Arthur is the earliest hurricane to hit N.C. in a season since records began in 1851.  Hurricane Arthur is the first Category 2 hurricane to directly hit the U.S. since Ike in 2008 (a long time in between Cat 2 storms).

Great Lakes Water Levels

July 2nd, 2014 at 3:05 am by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

Kollen Park - Maranda picture    This is a picture of Kollen Park in Holland on the shores of Lake Macatawa.  I was there last night for a little picnic and to hear the fine Holland American Legion Band – that band has been together for 95 years.  They play free concerts Tuesday nights in the summer.  Lake Macatawa connects to Lake Michigan, so the water level of the lake goes up and down with the water level of Lake Michigan.   We’ll (I’ll be at this Park Party) be there in Kollen Park for the next Maranda Park Party, which will be July 10.

The water level of Lake Michigan/Huron is up 3″ in the last month. The lake is 10″ higher than it was one year ago and is now just 5″ below the long-term average. Lake Superior is 4″ in the last month. Superior is 13″ higher than it was last year at this time and is a full 7″ above the century average. Lake Erie is up 1″ in the last month and up 7″ year-to-year. Erie is 4″ above average water level and Lake Ontario is unchanged in the last month and 5″ above the long-term average. Lake St. Clair is up 3″ in the last month, up 10″ in the last year and 4″ above the century average. Outflow out of Lake Superior down the St. Mary’s River into Lake Huron is expected to be above average through July. Outflow from Lake Erie down the Niagara River, over Niagara Falls and into Lake Ontario is also expected to be above average flow.

The 10″ of water added to Lake Michigan is (at 390 billion gallons per inch) 3.9 TRILLION gallons of extra water in the lake since one year ago…a pretty amazing jump.

The south mid-Lake Michigan buoy remains at a very cold 46°.   I see the N.Y. Times has noticed the higher lake levels.  Note the article says:  “…the Great Lakes are now abruptly on the rise, a development that has startled scientists…The International Joint Commission, a group with members from the United States and Canada that advises on water resources, completed a five-year study in April 2013 concluding that water levels in the lakes were likely to drop even farther, in part because of the lack of precipitation in recent years brought on by climate change.”   That obviously hasn’t happened.  CO2 and the water levels of the Great Lakes do not make a good match.    Also, Great Lakes shipwreckslowering the threshold for “contaminated” beaches…and…using the cold waters of the Great Lakes to cool industry.

Happy July

July 1st, 2014 at 5:42 am by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

butterfly   July – warmest month of the year – month with the highest percent of possible sunshine – the garden is growing and starting to yield the first tasty homegrown treats – it’s the middle of the baseball and golf seasons…sports where you exercise a little, but not too much in the summer heat.  Many families take vacations in July, timed to the warm weather and long summer days – especially here in Michigan where we have so many recreational opportunities.  When I was a kid, we played baseball in the street…we went around the block to see if Mrs. Schurzer would let Chloe (the dog) out to play with us…we rode our bicycles – all over the neighborhood -  and to the drugstore to buy baseball cards with gum inside or to get a pack of Chuckles or Life Savers.  Most of the boys were in Little League and Boy Scouts.  I went to Scout Camp (Camp Ma-Ka-Ja-Wan) four summers…driving from Wilmette, Illinois to northern Wisconsin on an old yellow school bus with no air-conditioning and no restroom.  I remember as a kid – that first summer day when my dad took me to Wrigley Field.  I saw it so many times on TV, but there I was right there, walking down Addison St.  You go through the gate and up the stairs and through the tunnel – Wow!  There was the perfectly manicured grass, the famous scoreboard above center field and the vine-covered outfield walls.  I saw Ernie Banks, Ron Santo, Billy Williams, Kenny Hubbs…did you know that in 1962, Lou Brock played center field for the Cubs and his salary was $8,000 – Ernie Banks was making a whopping $55,000 (by far the most on the team) and Ron Santo $22,500.  As late as 1977, bleacher seats at Wrigley Field cost as little as 75 cents (now it can cost you $67 for a marquee game) and you could buy a Frosty Malt for a quarter from a guy with one tooth.  Up until 1985, all the bleacher seats were only sold on the day of the game.  All the games were day games – the first night game at Wrigley wasn’t until 1988.

I’m up late…still not very tired after staying at the station past 4 am for severe weather coverage.   It’s now 5:30 am and I’ve watched the morning twilight building in the northeast.  The birds are singing brightly to welcome this new month.  It’ll be a little breezy today.  West winds will keep temperatures a little cooler near the lake, which will be a bit choppy today.  We have a chance of a light shower Weds. but the rest of the week is overall dry.  A shower could sneak in Sunday, but more likely Sun. night or Monday.  It’ll be a little cooler Weds. to Fri. with temperatures back in the low-mid 70s with lower humidity.  Looks like June will come in around 1.7 deg. warmer than average for G.R. (with no 90° yet) with 5.15″ of rain (everything is green) and 59% of possible sunshine.   Today we start the 2nd half of the year.  Happy July!

Mid 70s and rather windy at Noon.  HIGH STRUCTURAL CURRENT RISK this afternoon near breakwaters…esp. at Grand Haven St. Park – DO NOT SWIM ANYWHERE NEAR THE GRAND HAVEN PIER THIS AFTERNOON!  This applies to the SOUTH SIDE of any pier/breakwater!