Weather

Sunday Super Bowl Snowstorm

January 31st, 2015 at 3:46 am by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

advisory   The GRR NWS has issued a Winter Weather Advisory for all but the US 10 counties to the north.  It’s a Winter Storm Watch for the Counties that border Indiana (and that will likely be upgraded to a Winter Storm Warning.   Here’s the Forecast Discussions for West Michigan and Northern Indiana.  The Advisory runs from 7 pm Saturday (though many of us along and north of I-96 will through the early evening before roads get slick) to 6 am Monday morning.  So, this will be a long duration event.  The NWS is going for accumulations of 8-10″ for the I-94 counties, 5-8″ for Allegan, Barry, Eaton, Ingham, Ottawa, Kent, Ionia and Clinton Counties and 2-5″ for Oceana, Muskegon Newaygo, Montcalm, Mecosta, Isabella and Gratiot 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 MapThe heaviest snow may occur along and just south of I-80.

Now, 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. 0.43″ of precipitation.  So, at 10 to 1 that would be equivilant to 4.3″ of snow.  At a 15 to one ratio, that’s about 6.4″ of snow (and that’s more likely with this storm).  For Big Rapids, the European model gives Big Rapids 0.13″ of precipitation – so maybe 2″ (though even 2″ with 20 mph winds is going to cause some drifting problems.  Now, for Sturgis at the Indiana border – it gives 1.02″ of precipitation.  At 15-1 snow to water, that would be over 15″ of snow – a very major snowstorm.  Storms like that are rare, so just based on climatology, you’d be tempted to cut that total down a little bit.  But, a foot of snow with 30 mph wind gusts could easily bring 2-3 foot drifts and some major travel problems.

The NAM (caribou) overnight model snowfall totals:  Grand Rapids 5.6″, Kalamazoo 15.2″ (!!!), Big Rapids 2.7″, Cadillac 0.2″, S. Haven 10.5″, Holland 7.8″, Muskegon 3.5″, Lansing 7.3″, Jackson 13.9″, Mt. Pleasant (aka “snow desert”) 3.8″, Pontiac 9.2″, Ludington 2.5″.

The GFS (caribou) overnight model snowfall totals:  Grand Rapids 4.9″, Kalamazoo 9.8″, Big Rapids 2.7″, Cadillac 2.4″, Muskegon 3.5″, Lansing 5.2″ Jackson 9.2″, Mt. Pleasant 3.9″, Pontiac 4.0″, Ludington 2.5″.


New Model Data is Snowier for Sunday

January 30th, 2015 at 11:48 am by under Bill's Blog, Weather

indiana-snow   advisoryThe National Weather Service has issued a Winter Storm Watch for N. Indiana and the Michigan Counties that border Indiana.   The model data Friday and Friday night brought the storm and the heavier snow totals a little farther north.

Here’s the Sat. evening run of the NAM (caribou – aka Cobb – Mike Geukes already posted some of these numbers in a comment – thanks, Mike!):  Grand Rapids 5.6″ (airport, less northern Kent Co.), Lansing 7.3″, Muskegon 3.5″, Kalamazoo 15.2″ (wow!), Jackson 13.9″, Pontiac 9.2″, Big Rapids 2.7″, Mt. Pleasant 3.8″, Ludington 2.5″, Cadillac – 0.2″ (Cadillac does get a dusting on Sat.), Holland 7.8″, S. Haven 10.5″.

The GFS model run from Friday morning keeps the heaviest snow in N. Illinois, N. Indiana and N. Ohio.  GFS snowfall forecast for Sunday:  Grand Rapids (airport) 2.9″, Lansing 3.3″, Muskegon 2.0″, Kalamazoo 5.7″, Jackson 4.9″, Pontiac 1.8″, Big Rapids 0.9″, Mt. Pleasant 1.4″, Ludington 1.5″.   It also gives G.R. 1.8″ Tues. night.        The GFS also gives G.R. low temps. of -4 for Monday, -4 for next Thurs. and -15 for next Friday morning (BRR!).

Season snowfall:  Grand Rapids 55.2″ (5.8″ above average – 78.8″ up to this point last year), Muskegon 58.4″ (3.8″ below average, 96.5″ at this point last year), Lansing 18.9″ (11.3″ below average, 40″ at this point last year).

Snowcover Friday morning:  2″ Grand Rapids, Alma and Grand Ledge, 3″ East G.R., Walker, Hastings, Muskegon, Lansing, Breckenridge, Saranac, 4″ Wayland, Allendale, Big Rapids, 5″ Paw Paw, Grand Haven, 6″ Reed City and Alpena, 7″ White Cloud and Hart, 8″ Scottville, Fremont and Lake City, 9″ Houghton Lake, 10″ Traverse City, 14″ Gaylord, 21″ Newberry, 22″ Sault Ste. Marie, 25″ Marquette (airport), 36″ Grand Marais.

Satellite loop (daytime), satellite loop (nighttime), current conditions.


Friday PM

January 30th, 2015 at 3:38 am by under Bill's Blog, Weather

  Watch for an isolated icy spot this afternoon/evening.  There are still a few scattered light flurries, but that’s it.   The radar here will update automatically.  A few spots picked up a couple inches of snow overnight, many other areas have had just a dusting.  The winds were strong enough overnight (gusts over 30 mph overnight) to drift the snow in those areas that picked up a couple inches.  This will is a colder day, with aftn. temps. in the low 20.   We’ll be back to the low 30s on Saturday.  Mostly dry for Saturday, with a chance of a few flurries mainly north of I-96.

Earlier:  The overnight models have shifted the snow for Sunday farther north.  The European model gives G.R. 0.37″ precipitation Sunday, and that would be 4-5″ of snow.  Here are the snowfall forecasts from the overnight model runs for the (NAM, GFS):  Grand Rapids (1.9″, 3.5″), Kalamazoo (5.3″, 5.5″), Lansing (2.1″, 3.6″), Muskegon (trace, 2.6″), Big Rapids (nothing, 1.4″), Mt. Pleasant (nothing, 2.3″), Holland 2.8″ (NAM only), S. Haven 4.7″ (NAM only).   The European takes the temp. in G.R. to -2F next Monday am and -12F a week from today (the 6th).  That model would give G.R. another 3″ of snow next Thurs. and snow showers in between.  The GFS  gives G.R. -4 Monday, zero next Thurs. am and -9 for Friday the 6th.   I would imagine that favorable lakeshore bands could bring healthier snow accumulations (NW flow).  Here’s snowfall off the UK Met model with the heaviest (6″ across N. Indiana and Ohio on Sunday, but decent snow up to G.R.).  European model track of storm drops 6+” snow on Chicago, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Philly, NYC, and Boston.   GFS ensemble looks real cold for early February over the eastern U.S. (3 maps at link).

Also:  Snow on the ground over much of the U.K. and Northern Ireland (link in centimeters).  Tulloch Bridge, Scotland reports 9″ of snow on the ground and a temp. of 11.  In the last 2 weeks, temps in Wichita, KS, have run 12.2 F above normal.   Cyclone Eunice (hurricane) peaks at Category 5 in the southern Indian OceanFrom the Space StationSnow in the Smoky Mts. (I’ve been down that road).  Neat pic. of snow on the ground out East…note frozen Lake Erie and open water on most of New York’s (deep) Finger Lakes.  Map of accumulations from East Coast Snowstorm.

Here’s Grand Rapids radar and Northern Michigan radar, NAM model 3-day snowfall forecast and GFS model 5-day snowfall forecast (totals increased on the Sat. overnight model run). Storm Total Snowfall will show the heaviest snow and Milwaukee looping radar. Regional radar and the Updated GRR NWS Short Term Discussion. More links: Grand Rapids radar, Northern Indian radar, Chicago radar, Detroit radar and Milwaukee radar. Here’s College of DuPage Radar Map (pick any radar in the U.S.), College of DuPage Grand Rapids radar, the West Michigan Lightning Tracker, National Lightning Tracker, the local warning/advisory map and the National warning/watch/advisory map, a surface weather map. You can checkout the latest Grand Rapids NWS discussion, the Northern Indiana NWS discussion (includes the Michigan Counties that border Indiana), the discussion for Northern Lower Michigan, and Eastern Lower Michigan. Here’s the Spyglass Condos Weather Station the S. Haven GLERL station, the Muskegon GLERL station, the Grand Haven Steelheaders webcam and weather station, and the weather station at Holland State Park. Check out the Maranatha Webcam at Lake Michigan and links to webcams. Here’s the infrared satellite loop (night) and the visible satellite loop (daytime), Lake Michigan water temperatures (summer). Here’s recent storm reports from SW Michigan, Northern Michigan, NE Illinois, SE. Wisconsin, Upper Michigan and E. Michigan. Check out the wind and wave height at the South Mid-Lake Michigan Buoy (Apr. to Nov. only), the North Mid-Lake Michigan Buoy (Apr. to Nov. only), the buoy at Big Sable Point near Ludington and the weather station on the beach at St. Joseph. Here’s Michigan wind gusts from MesoWest, data from the MAWN agricultural weather stations and Weather Underground (data at the bottom from private weather stations). Here’s the Consumers Energy Power Outage Map


Great Lakes Ice Cover, Water Levels

January 30th, 2015 at 12:11 am by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

Great Lakes Ice Cover One    Great Lakes Ice Cover Two  Ice Cover 3Click 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.

Great Lakes news:   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.


Thursday Night/Friday Morning

January 29th, 2015 at 2:48 am by under Bill's Blog, Weather

  Snow and snow showers will diminish some and move closer to Lake Michigan (eventually areas NE of G.R. should become partly cloudy by daybreak).  Between the light snow and the falling temperatures, roads have icy spots and that will likely be the case into the morning.  1-3″will fall in the heavier bands.

Earlier:  Police officer shot in Wyoming today – started as a domestic.  Watch 24-hour news 8 at 11 pm for the latest.  Also, 2 planes went off the runway at the Ford Airport, one passenger, one FedEx – no injuries.  The Winter Weather Advisory  has ended, though icy spots are likely tonight and temperatures fall below freezing.   Here’s current temps.    There are some very icy rural roads, side streets, sidewalks and parking lots.

Record highs of 78 Weds. in Topeka KS and 3 days of record highs at Oklahoma City ( 77, 78 and 79).

Here’s Grand Rapids radar and Northern Michigan radar, NAM model 3-day snowfall forecast and GFS model 5-day snowfall forecast (totals increased on the Sat. overnight model run). Storm Total Snowfall will show the heaviest snow and Milwaukee looping radar. Regional radar and the Updated GRR NWS Short Term Discussion. More links: Grand Rapids radar, Northern Indian radar, Chicago radar, Detroit radar and Milwaukee radar. Here’s College of DuPage Radar Map (pick any radar in the U.S.), College of DuPage Grand Rapids radar, the West Michigan Lightning Tracker, National Lightning Tracker, the local warning/advisory map and the National warning/watch/advisory map, a surface weather map. You can checkout the latest Grand Rapids NWS discussion, the Northern Indiana NWS discussion (includes the Michigan Counties that border Indiana), the discussion for Northern Lower Michigan, and Eastern Lower Michigan. Here’s the Spyglass Condos Weather Station the S. Haven GLERL station, the Muskegon GLERL station, the Grand Haven Steelheaders webcam and weather station, and the weather station at Holland State Park. Check out the Maranatha Webcam at Lake Michigan and links to webcams. Here’s the infrared satellite loop (night) and the visible satellite loop (daytime), Lake Michigan water temperatures (summer). Here’s recent storm reports from SW Michigan, Northern Michigan, NE Illinois, SE. Wisconsin, Upper Michigan and E. Michigan. Check out the wind and wave height at the South Mid-Lake Michigan Buoy (Apr. to Nov. only), the North Mid-Lake Michigan Buoy (Apr. to Nov. only), the buoy at Big Sable Point near Ludington and the weather station on the beach at St. Joseph. Here’s Michigan wind gusts from MesoWest, data from the MAWN agricultural weather stations and Weather Underground (data at the bottom from private weather stations). Here’s the Consumers Energy Power Outage Map


Gas Price Going Up

January 28th, 2015 at 11:49 am by under Bill's Blog, Weather

gas prices    www.gasbuddy.com has a price alert out for a possible rise of 20 to 30 cents up to $2.09 to $2.19.  No guarantee it will happen, but might be a good idea to fill up it you see it around $1.89.   Cirrus clouds starting to come in now (11:50 pm).  NAM model is first in with 0.22″ of precipitation – starting after 1 am thru tomorrow am.  It’s a mix, including some freezing rain, then goes to all snow in most areas before it stops around midday.  Watch for slick roads late tonight into tomorrow morning.  Allow a few extra minutes for the Thurs. am commute.  Check with DAYBREAK in the am from 4:30 to 7 am for the latest.


Winter Weather Advisory – Possible Freezing Rain

January 28th, 2015 at 3:59 am by under Bill's Blog, Weather

advisory  The National Weather Service has issued a Winter Weather Advisory for later tonight into Thursday.  The Advisory covers much of the area and will be in effect from 1 am to 4 pm Thursday afternoon.  It’ll be dry today and this evening…so you should be OK if you have plans this evening.  The Thursday morning commute could be tricky with a combination of light (not heavy) freezing rain or drizzle, sleet and maybe some wet snow mixed in.  The precipitation may eventually change over to all snow before it ends, especially north of I-96.  The models are only forecasting about 1/10th of an inch of precipitation, but it doesn’t take much freezing rain to cause some traffic headaches.  My microcast had the precip. starting around midnight-1 am up in Oceana Co. and spreading SE thru the early morning before daybreak.

We’re also going to get a long-duration period of light snow starting later Saturday night thru Sunday with snow showers into at least Monday if not Tuesday.  Just the duration of the event suggests several inches could accumulate…probably more in favorable WNW to NW lake-effect areas.  It also looks pretty chilly Monday and Tuesday with temps. a good 10 to even 15 degrees cooler than average.  Here’s the latest NWS GRR discussion.   I’m up for WHTC radio (1450 am) at around 7:10 am.  You can also get the updated forecast from Storm Team 8 on WOOD (1300 am and 106.9 fm) and on Star 105.7 fm.

Here’s the updated snowfall totals from New England.  Several stations did reach 36″.


The NWS Blizzard Forecast in the East

January 28th, 2015 at 3:40 am by under Bill's Blog, Weather

Near blizzard conditions east   Click on the image to enlarge.  This graphic from Greg Carbin at SPC shows where near-blizzard conditions occurred and for how long.  The NWS forecast for the East Coast Storm was very good for much of Long Island, E CT, RI Central and Eastern MA, SE NH and (I haven’t checked numbers and winds here) and E Maine.  They also hit their hurricane force winds out on Nantucket (gust to 78 mph reported).  They were too strong with their forecast in the NYC area and especially down thru New Jersey into Philadelphia.

In the old days, there were essentially two models and they only went out 48-hours.  We had the Barotropic and the LFM (Limited Fine Mesh).  The models didn’t handle mountains (elevation), the Great Lakes or snow cover.  We knew the basic physics of the models and they remained unchanged for a long time, so we learned their biases (like the Barotropic racing closed upper lows across the U.S. in late spring…we knew the model would be too fast).

Today, we have better models and the models go out for many days and even weeks.  Sometimes the physics of the models is tweaked and just when you get used to one model, it behaves a little differently.  There are dozens of models.  I look at a lot of models.  Each day I check the NAM, GFS and FIM (the U.S. models), the Canadian, The European, and the Japanese model…some days other models.  I check ensembles.  I’m an old guy that still likes to print out data and have it spread out in front of me.

The National Weather Service is MUCH better now than it was when I started 40 years ago (and that’s taking nothing away from those who worked their 40 years ago).  We used to forecast for 2 days…now we go out 8 days – that’s the biggest difference in the daily forecast.  I don’t think the NWS needed to apologize for their East Coast storm forecast.  This is not an exact science and they did their best with this forecast.  No one was negligent that I know of, and I’m sure that the meteorologists put in long hours and extra effort on this storm.  For much of the area, including the area impacted, the NWS had out a very good forecast, allowing both families and government to plan for the storm.   Personally, I’d rather they err a little on the strong side than the weak side with a storm like that.  NYC did get about 6-11″ of new snow, plus drifting.  It was not a no-storm, it was just not as much snow as was forecast.

Remember the tone of the media is important.  If the news anchor or weather anchor is jumping up and down, panting and screaming “JUNO, JUNO!!” it can give a different impression.  The NWS has no control over that.  The national media is giving much more airtime to weather events than it did even 10 years ago.  In an earlier thread, I wrote that I personally thought this wouldn’t quite as big a deal for NJ and NYC., but I was spending more time on the Michigan weather than what was going on out east, so that was a little more educated guess than detailed model analysis at that point.  The greatest impact was E. Long Island, R. Island, Eastern and Central Massachusetts and the offshore islands.  There, the NWS forecast was very good and both the forecasts and the response from politicians looked very good to me.  I especially liked the tone of the governor of Massachusetts.  Maybe he’s just that laid-back, but he was matter-of-fact and not filled with breathless angst.

The pattern suggests that we will have more significant storms to deal with in the coming weeks…on the East Coast for sure and I think we’re headed back toward a snowier pattern here in the Great Lakes as well.  February is going to be an interesting month, weatherwise.  The forecasts won’t be perfect, but I hope they are generally useful to you as you plan your daily tasks and fun.  Thanks as always for checkin’ into Bill’s Blog.


January 27th, 2015 at 5:56 pm by under Bill's Blog, Weather

modis lake michigan   modis lake huron  modis lake ontario Here’s the afternoon MODIS satellite pictures for Lake Michigan, Lake Huron and Lake Ontario.     As I write this, we have 37.8% ice on the Great Lakes.  Lake Michigan has a 21% ice coverLake Superior is up to 25% ice coverLake Huron is up to 50% ice coverLake Erie has the greatest percentage ice cover at 85%Lake Ontario is at 24%.


Some Sunshine!

January 27th, 2015 at 8:53 am by under Bill's Blog, Weather

muskegon glerl    muskegon glerl 2 Here’s a couple of early morning pics. from the Muskegon GLERL camera (from NOAA Coastwatch).  The first looks west.  You can see quite a bit of ice beyond the breakwater and you can see the low clouds over the lake, which will clear to the south as the morning goes on.  The 2nd pic. looks east down the channel, where there is open water.  In the distance you can see some clouds on the horizon….a combination of lake-effect low clouds off Lake Huron and the west edge of the clouds from the East Coast snowstorm.   West Michigan should see a lot of sunshine today, which is most welcome.  Here’s a satellite pic.  G.R. is 3.5 deg. colder than average for January with only one high temp. above 40 deg. (we had 4 days above 40 amid a very cold Jan. last year).  Snowfall is 22.7″ for G.R., a little above average, thought we’ve had only 2.5″ in the last 15 days.  It’s not that it hasn’t been cold enough for snow, it’s just that it’s been a very dry pattern.  Not including today, we’ve had only 16% sunshine this month and only one day over 65% sunshine.

We’ll have to watch the system Weds. night/Thurs.  That could be a mix to snow.  The mix may very well include a period of freezing rain for a narrow band across S. Lower Michigan.  So, travel Thurs. am will not be the best.  Snow is likely with the Arctic push Sat. PM into Sunday.  The GFS-plot gives us several inches, followed by low temps. near zero for Mon. and Tues. mornings.  I’ve already told the groundhog to fax in the prediction – too cold to come out of the burrow.

As of 1 pm Tues. – Boston has had 20.8″ of new snow….2″ shy of the Jan. record. There are 3 reported totals of 30″.   Here’s the number of hours in “near blizzard conditions.   The forecast snow amounts were way too high over most of NJ, too high in NYC (they got 6-11″ plus drifting – they did get a decent storm) and pretty much right on in E. Long Island, RI, MA, NH.  There  few  perfect forecasts and it’s probably best to err on the high side than on the low side.  Technology isn’t at the point to give us perfect forecasts.  I think there will be too much blame directed at the NWS.  You won’t hear about the large geographic area where the forecast was right on and you have to realize that forecasting is not going to be perfect for all areas in a storm like this.

Nice sun pillar this morning looking east from G.R.  Boston’s Fenway Park in the snowstorm this morning.  Here’s Long Island (worse to the east of where this pic. was taken).  Not the snow is ending here.  Report coming in that Tom Brady is responsible for deflating snow amounts in NYC.Report coming in that Tom Brady is responsible for deflating snow amounts in NYC.  They’ll get their 30″ west of Boston.  Drifts there already 4 – 6 feet.  Makes it tough to walk the dogHere’s BostonCape Cod getting buriedHeavy snow still falling in SE NH.   Interesting ice formation in Spain.   Mail delivery canceled Tuesday from the NJ shore to Maine’s Downeast region.   Extreme cold in Alaska, 50 below zero in Bettles.