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It'll be a breezy weekend. There's a Beach Hazards Statement in effect today for all the lakeshore counties from Leelanau down to LaPorte and Porter Counties in Indiana. The Statement continues through Sunday morning from Muskegon County to the north, but continues through Monday morning for areas from Ottawa County to the south.
There's also Small Craft Advisories out for the weekend for waves of 3 to 7 feet.
The west winds will bring warmer water back to the Michigan. An episode of upwelling caused water temperatures to crash into the 40s this past week, but the water temps. have started to recover a bit.
Here's a graph of the water temperature at the Ludington Buoy over the past 5 days. You can see the tremendous upwelling event on 9/22 (Wed.) that sent the water temperature crashing from near 70° to near 40°. While there has been some significant fluctuation, the water temp. has bounced back up above 50°. The mid-Lake Michigan buoy shows a water temp. of 66, so the west wind should push that warmer water back toward the Michigan shore.
The map above is the Total Rainfall Forecast for the coming week from the Weather Prediction Center. While we have an outside chance of a (mainly light) shower on Sunday, the coming week looks dry in West Michigan with lots of pleasant sunshine.
This graphic from the G.R. NWS shows the weather for the coming week. The average high temperature for the week is in the upper 60s. We'll have high temperatures in the 70s.
Back on August 2, I wrote: "I think August, September and at least the first half of October will be warmer than average in West Michigan." So far, that forecast is working out as planned. August ended 3.2 deg. warmer than average and September is currently 1.6 degrees warmer than average. The first few days of October will definitely be warmer than average.
At some point, the pattern will flip to cold in November and I still think December is a cold month, likely the coldest December in at least 4 years. Last winter, February was the coldest (6 degrees colder than average) and snowiest (30" for G.R.) month of the winter. This year we'll have an earlier start to winter with a good chance of a White Christmas this year. BTW - Christmas is exactly 3 months away (I'm writing this on 9/25).
The top pic. is the Muskegon MI Channel Friday AM (9/24/21). You can see the Lake Express Ferry heading west toward Milwaukee. After 4 straight mostly cloudy days, it was nice to see some sunshine today in W. Michigan. The high temperatures of 60° on Wed. and 57° on Thu. in G.R. were the coolest days we've had since last May.
The water levels of the Great Lakes are at or below the levels of one year ago. Lakes Superior, Michigan and Huron are significantly lower than last September.
The water level of Lake Superior was unchanged over the last 10 minutes, BUT...the level is 10" lower than one year ago. Lake Superior is now 1" LOWER than the September average level an 13" lower than it was in Sept. 2019. A drop of 10" represents a loss of 5.5 TRILLION gallons of water. The main cause of this has been below average precipitation. Marquette MI has had 19.85" of precipitation this year...that's 6.47" below average. Duluth MN has had 19.15" of precipitation this year and that's 5.03" below average.
Because the water level of Lake Superior is below average now, the average flow of water down the St. Marys River into Lake Huron-Michigan is also below average. The flow on the St. Marys River is dependent on the wind speed and direction. As I type this, the flow on the St. Marys River at S. Ste. Marie is 48,300 cubic feet per second, The average flow for today is 87,600 cfs. That seems like a big difference. The wind as I type this at S. Ste. Marie is southeast at 13 mph. Since the St. Marys River flows northwest to southeast...a southeast wind pushes on the water and slows the flow down the river. A northwest wind would speed up the flow of water down the river.
The water level of Lake Michigan-Huron (one lake for lake level purposes connected at the Straits of Mackinac) is down 2" in the last month and down 14" year-to-year. The lakes are still 16" above the September average level, but we are 17" below the record level set in the fall of 1986.
The water level of Lake Erie is down 3" in the last month and down 3" year-to-year. The lake is still 20" above the average September level, but it's 7" below the record high September level set in 2019.
The water level of Lake Ontario is also down 3" in the last month. The level is unchanged from one year ago and is just 1" higher than the September average. Lake Ontario is now 25" lower than the record high September level set in 1947,
The water level of Lake St. Clair 3" higher than it was one month ago. The lake is down 2" from one year ago and is still 25" above the September average. It's 5" lower than the highest September level.
The flow on many Great Lakes rivers rose significantly this week due to moderate to heavy rainfall. Isolated weekly totals of 6" were reported in SE Michigan. Grand Rapids had 1.64" of rain from Monday - Thursday.
The Grand River at Grand Rapids has a flow of 2,850 cfs (as I type this), compared to an average flow of 1,650 cfs. The Kalamazoo River at Kalamazoo has a flow of 1,470 cfs, compared to an average flow of 531 cfs. The St. Joseph River at Niles has a flow of 3,140 cfs - average is 1,980 cfs and the Muskegon River at Croton has a flow of 1,680 cfs, compared to an average flow of 1,160 cfs. So, there is more water going down the Muskegon River at Croton right now than the average amount of water that goes down the Grand River in late September.
The Saginaw has at Bay City has a flow of 2,210 cfs, compared to an average flow of 911 cfs. The Fox River at Oshkosh WI has a flow of 3,070 cfs compared to an average flow of 2,880 cfs.
GREAT LAKES NEWS:
A SPECTACULAR case of upwelling has occurred on Lake Michigan! The above graph is the water temperature at the Ludington buoy. The water temperature at the buoy was 65° at 4:40 pm yesterday (9 22 21) Just 3 hours and 10 minutes later, the water temperature was 42°. As I write this Thu. PM - the water temp. at the buoy is 40° - that's just 8° above freezing! And it's not just at Ludington...
Here's the graph of the water temp. at the Port Sheldon Buoy near Holland MI - here the water temp. fell from 69° at 3:40 pm on 9/22. Twelve hours later, the water temp. was down to 47° and as I write this Thu. PM, it's down to 43°.
Lake Michigan is a deep lake (923 feet at its deepest point NW of Manistee). While surface water warms in the summer, the bottom of the lake remains at at temperature of around 40°. When we get a strong and or prolonged offshore wind, it can blow the warmer surface water out toward the middle of the lake. Colder water then rises to the surface. Water temperatures will warm back up with the wind turns back onshore.
Same story at the South Haven buoy (see graph above).
This is a satellite pic. taken Fri. AM. The lighter colored water near the Michigan shore is the cold surface water that has come up from the bottom of the lake. There has not been any upwelling at the mid-Lake Michigan buoy, where water is darker. The water temperature at the mid-lakebuoy is still 67°.
Wave height peaked at 14.8 feet at the Michigan City IN buoy at 8:50 pm Wed. Waves there were still at 9.2 feet at mid-afternoon Thursday. At the buoy, the wind was steady at about 30 mph for 24 hours with a peak gust of 45 mph.
It'll be raining cats and dogs at times in Lower Michigan this midweek, but this doggie is all set for the wet weather. First of all, there is a Flood Watch. It covers Branch, Calhoun, Eaton, Ingham, Clinton and Saginaw counties and from there to the east. There could be up to 4" of rain in the Flood Watch counties. Fortunately, river levels are low and the ground can absorb some of this rain. Here's radar:
As you can see, the heaviest rain will be over SE Michigan, with amounts tapering off as you go farther to the northwest. Here's a river forecast for SE Michigan.
Strong north-northwest winds will generate some big waves on Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. I can't imagine too many people would be interested in swimming with the rainy, cool weather, but there's always a few people that like to venture out on the piers...don't do that tomorrow or Thursday. Winds up to 35 mph will cause some very dangerous offshore currents, particularly on the north side of the piers.
There's a Lakeshore Flood Advisory for Berrien Co. and for the Lake Huron shoreline in Bay, Huron, Tuscola, Sanilac and St. Clair Counties. Strong winds may cause some minor lakeshore flooding and erosion. This would be a more serious event if the lake level hadn't falling 16" since 2019.
This is the wave forecast for Wednesday Evening. The Coastal Forecast has waves up to 13 feet at the south end of Lake Michigan. Gale Warnings are out for Lake Michigan. The NWS says: "Waves building to 5 to 10 feet, occasionally to 13 feet overnight. Waves build further through Wednesday night to 10 to 16 feet occasionally to 20 feet." The Gale Warnings will come down to Small Craft Advisories at 8 am Thursday.
We'll need the umbrella from time to time the next few days. Look for scattered showers. There could be a thundershower tomorrow morning, but most of the activity will be showers.
This is the severe weather outlook map for Tuesday. There is only one large General Thunderstorm Outlook (not severe) from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico and that includes all of Lower Michigan and eastern Upper Michigan.
Here's the Rainfall Total Forecast from now to Thursday evening from the Weather Prediction Center. For the most part, the eastern half of the U.S. gets rain and the western half does not. They are forecasting more than 3" of rain for SE Michigan and over 1" for most of West Michigan.
Fortunately, river levels are low and the ground can soak up some of the rain, so significant flooding is unlikely.
Here's Lower Michigan radar.
And Midwest Radar (nice line of t-storms this evening from Canada to E. Kansas along the cold front).
Here's forecast high temperatures for Wednesday from the NWS. Note the cool air over the Great Lakes with high temperatures in the upper 50s to low 60s in Michigan.
What goes up must come down, they say. In the last month, all five of the Great Lakes have see water levels drop - anywhere from one to six inches. The level of the lakes usually falls a bit in late summer and fall. The drop in water levels of the Great Lakes has been pretty remarkable.
The water level of Lake Superior is down 1" in the last month, but down a whopping 11" in the last year. Each inch of water on Lake Superior represents 551 billion gallons, so that's a loss of 6.06 TRILLION gallons in just one year. So far this year, Marquette has had 77% of average precipitation, Duluth has had 78% of average precipitation and International Falls MN has had just 61% of average precipitation. The water level of Lake Superior is now one inch lower than the long-term monthly average for September. The lake is down 14" from the highest level reached in 2019.
The St. Marys River drains Lake Superior, moving water down into Lake Huron. That river has a below average flow for the first time in years. The flow on Saturday was 69,300 cubic feet per second, compared to an average flow of 89,900 cfs That means less water coming into Lake Michigan/Huron.
The water level of Lake Michigan-Huron is down 3" in the lasts month and down 16" in the last year, a very substantial drop. An inch of water on Lake Huron represents 400 billion gallons and an inch of water on Lake Michigan represents 390 billion gallons. So that 16" drop is a loss of 12,6 TRILLION gallons. Much of West Michigan has seen below average precipitation this year. Grand Rapids has had 89% of average precipitation and Holland just 71% of average precipitation. Lake Michigan/Huron is still 16" above the September average level, but 17" below the highest September level set in 1986 (anyone remember the "Flood of 86").
Water levels of Great Lakes rivers and mostly not too far away from average. The flow on the Grand River in Grand Rapids early Sunday AM is 1,650 cfs, compared to an average September flow of 1,500 cfs. The Kalamazoo River at Comstock has a flow of 523 cfs compared to an average flow of 576 cfs. The Muskegon River at Croton has a flow of 1,430 cfs - average is 1,180 cfs. The Saginaw River at Bay City has a flow of 2,210 cfs compared to an average flow of 2,030 cfs. Finally, the Fox River at Green Bay WI has a flow of 2,270 cfs compared to an average flow of 2,380 cfs.
The water level of Lake Erie dropped an impressive 6" in the last month. The lake is down 7" year-to-year, but is still 18" above the September average level. The lake is 9" below the highest level set in 2019.
Lake Ontario is down 2" in the last month and down 2" in the last year. The lake is only 2" above the average September level and it's 24" below the highest level ever reached - that was in 1947.
Lake St. Clair is down 5" in the last month and down 11" in the last year. The lake is still 19" above the September average water level
The Detroit River at Detroit has a flow of 233,000 cubic feet per second, compared an average September flow of 208,000 cubic feet per second. With a higher than average amount of water exiting Lake Michigan/Huron and a low amount of water entering Lake Michigan/Huron, it's likely the water level will continue to (very gradually) continue to go down during the fall and winter months.
I haven't double-checked my math and it's late, but I get a preliminary drop of 19.88 trillion gallons of water in the Great Lakes in the last year...add in Lake St. Clair and you're probably a touch over 20 trillion gallons. I don't know what an inch of water works out to in gallons on Lake St. Clair.
Weatherwise - one more sunny, warm September day...then we get clouds and showers Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (lake effect rain showers on Wed.). The coolest air so far this season will be with us for the middle of the week.
The fall season arrives next Wednesday the 22nd at 3:21 pm. With the arrival of fall will come a big change in our weather pattern. It will be much cooler, cloudier and there will be lake-effect rain showers. The models have been trending colder for the last several days. Temperatures could stay relatively chilly from Wednesday through much of the rest of September.
We'll have a chance of showers most days this week with temperatures below average starting Wednesday.
So, if you like warm, summer weather - I hope you enjoyed the sunny, warm weather we have last weekend (18th and 19th).
Anyone remember this song? You could "Sing Along with Mitch" on TV in the early 1960s - Mitch Miller lived to be 99 years old BTW.
Monday (at 7:55 pm) is the date of the full moon - though the moon will look full from Sunday through Wednesday. The full moon closest to the Equinox is called the Harvest Moon and it's the most famous of the full moons. The equinox is next Wednesday the 22nd (at 3:21 pm).
Here's more on the full moon names in 2021.
There were two awesome flyovers of the International Space Station this past weekend (Sept. 18-19). Fortunately, skies were clear on Saturday and mostly clear on Sunday. There was still a little twilight Sunday evening. There are flyovers Monday evening (it'll be cloudy in G.R.) and Tuesday (it'll probably be cloudy).
Tuesday evening's flyover is at 8:19 pm. If by some chance you do get a break in the clouds, look to the west and the ISS will move to a maximum height of 45 degrees above the horizon. Again the Space Station will continue to the northeast and disappear before reaching the horizon.
Here's a list of ISS flyovers through 9/24 for Grand Rapids. You can see where the Space Station is now here. The Space Station is 356 feet long (a football field is 300 feet long) and it orbits the earth every 90 minutes going thru 16 sunrises and 16 sunsets each 24 hour day. Here's more facts about the Space Station.
Here's the number of 90-degree days we've had this summer. Quite a range - with Kalamazoo at 18 days and just one at Muskegon. You can see the difference that Lake Michigan makes - natural air conditioning! We had a number of days when Kalamazoo reached 90 or 91 and Grand Rapids stopped in the upper 80s.
Kalamazoo's high temperature of 90° on Tuesday was 15 degrees warmer than average, but still 7° shy of the record high of 97°, set on Sept. 14, 1939.
Here's high temperatures from Tuesday. As expected, it was cooler to the north, with highs in the 70s north of Kent County.
Average high temperatures are in the mid 70s. We'll see temperatures above to much above average over the next week, with upper 80s likely Sunday to Tuesday.
The latest 8-14 Day Temperature Forecast from the Climate Prediction Center for September 23-29 calls for above average temperatures in the Great Lakes and for much of the country. Cooler than average temperatures are likely in much of the Western U.S.