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WOW! Check out the hail here! Tornadoes, large hail and strong winds have hit Oklahoma, SE Kansas, SW Missouri and NW Arkansas. Seven tornadoes have been reported…one in Sand Springs resulted in one fatality at a mobile home park and dozens of injuries…and another in Moore (a town that has had 2 EF5 tornadoes in 1999 and again in 2013 – path of Weds. tornado at link, the twister crossed I-35. Cars were flipped on in both directions on I-35). Three other tornadoes touched down in NW Arkansas. Hail as large has softballs was reported in Tulsa, where schools will be closed today (Thurs.), winds hit 80 mph in the town of Westport and over 78,000 customers are without power in Oklahoma. Flooding is also reported Here’s SPC storm reports. Follow the storms on KFOR in Oklahoma City and KJRH in Tulsa. (pics. from KFOR). SSEO forecast tornado likelihood well. Radio tower destroyed. Gas station destroyed. Gymnastics studio destroyed. Pic. of Tulsa/Sand Springs tornado.
2.9 magnitide earthquake northwest of Chicago. Wednesday, Verkhoyansk, Siberia, saw its first day above freezing since Oct. 5, that’s 171 days ago! Cherry blossoms in Birmingham AL. What a difference a day makes – in Colorado.
From the Storm Prediction Center: ”
NORMAN, Okla. During a month when severe weather typically strikes, this March has been unusually quiet, with no tornado or severe thunderstorm watches issued by NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center so far. And, National Weather Service forecasters see no sign of dramatic change for the next week at least.
“We are in uncharted territory with respect to lack of severe weather”, said Greg Carbin, SPC’s warning coordination meteorologist. “This has never happened in the record of SPC watches dating back to 1970.”
Since the beginning of 2015, the SPC has issued only four tornado watches and no severe thunderstorm watches, which is less than 10 percent of the typical number of 52 tornado watches issued by mid-March. The approximately 20 tornadoes reported since January 1 is well below the 10-year average of 130 for that time period.
There is no one clear reason to explain the lack of tornadoes, Carbin said. “We’re in a persistent pattern that suppresses severe weather, and the right ingredients — moisture, instability, and lift — have not been brought together in any consistent way so far this year.”
Forecasters expect a change soon, however. April and May are typically the busiest months for severe weather and tornadoes. Patterns can change in a few days, Carbin said, and it’s important to be prepared for severe weather when it occurs.
Analysis of the ten lowest and ten highest watch count years through the middle of March reveals little correlation to the subsequent number of tornadoes through the end of June. For example, early 2012 was particularly active with 77 watches issued through mid-March. The subsequent period through the end of June was unusually quiet for tornadoes with about 130 fewer EF1 and stronger tornadoes occurring than what would normally be expected. On the other hand, 1984, with a relatively low watch count of 28 through mid-March, became more active and by late June had about 100 EF1 and stronger tornadoes above the long-term mean of 285.” From Keli Pirtle at SPC
Today (March 18) is the anniversary of the worst tornado in U.S. history (in 1925). It set records for longest tornado on the ground (219 miles) , most fatalities (695), fastest forward speed (average 56 mph, nearly 75 mph at the beginning). The twister crossed the Mississippi River about 75 miles southeast of St. Louis, moving from Missouri, across southern Illinois and into Indiana. The tornado followed a railroad line, destroying towns (four towns were completely destroyed) that had sprung up along the railroad. The twister averaged 3/4-mile wide and at times was over a mile wide. Survivors described the approaching storm as a rolling, boiling fog. Fires set by the tornado could be seen 60 miles from the tornado’s path.
A few years ago, my wife and I drove along the path of this storm and stopped at libraries and city halls to see what I could learn. At a mine, the entire above ground structures were destroyed, trapping miners underground (they were later rescued. Nine schools were destroyed and 69 children lost their lives that day. There were 2027 recorded injures (not counting those who were not counted at overcrowded hospitals). Fifteen thousand homes were destroyed. The twister occurred before the F-scale for rating tornadoes was established, but there is agreement that this one was an F5. Seven other tornadoes caused fatalities that day, another 52 other deaths in tornadoes that occurred in northern Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky and southern Indiana. Thorough new and continuing research has found no break in the path and also that the tornado touchdown may have occurred approximately 15 miles before previously thought, bringing the total path length to around 234 mi. Damage from the tornado totaled nearly 17 million dollars, which adjusted for inflation would be close to 2 billion dollars today.
7:40 pm Weds. – The kp-index is at a 5. Yesterday we were up at an 8. Five is pretty marginal for the casual viewer to see anything here in S. Lower Michigan. If you saw the Northern Lights, it would likely be a faint greenish-white glow, a little above the northern horizon. We also have a layer of thin cirrus clouds that may dim the view. So, don’t hold your breath on seeing anything much tonight. Keep in mind, we’re closer to the Equator than we are to the North Pole, so seeing the Northern Lights in Southern Michigan is rare.
Photo of the aurora last night is from Michael Gavan at Gun Lake. Click to enlarge. Here’s pics. from Jay near Sand Lake. From www.spaceweather.com: “…A CME (Coronal Mass Ejection) hit Earth’s magnetic field on March 17th…the “storm” intensified to G4-class (Kp=8), ranking it as the strongest geomagnetic storm of the current solar cycle. Kp=8 would be a very nice visible aurora for all of Michigan. Watch the Kp index here (scroll down, left side) and here and here. Where it was clear late last night, there was a good view of the aurora from Wisconsin and Minnesota/South Dakota. Check out the national satellite loop to follow clouds (link is daytime, use this loop at night). A nice green aurora was appropriate for St. Patrick’s Day! We’d appreciate any photos of the aurora you get – you can email them to: firstname.lastname@example.org We’ll make a photo-mojo out of them. The best aurora pics. seem to be coming from Northern Europe. Here’s a pic. from Marquette, one from New Zealand (the Southern Lights) and one from Finland.
Here’s a couple of great pics. from Michelle Olin. The first is the calm-as you-will-ever-see-it Boardman River in Traverse City just before it empties into Traverse Bay. The second is from the Homestead Resort looking out over the frozen bay. Great Lakes ice cover as I write this is at 64.3%. The link will give you the latest ice extent. The ice cover on all the Great Lakes is slowly breaking up and melting. Ice extent on the Great Lakes usually peaks in early March. Right now ice extent stands at 36.2% on Lake Michigan…for Lake Superior 75.6%, Lake Huron 74.8%, Lake Erie 92.9% and Lake Ontario (31.7%). 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). Check out the graph of ice extent this season for lakes Superior, Huron, Erie and Ontario. Compare Great Lakes ice today to Great Lakes ice one year ago. Here’s a year-to-year comparison for Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. Great Lakes ice cover peaked last year on March 6th at 92.5%, a little below the record of 94.7% in 1979. Zoomed in pic. of West Michigan showing the snow cover and ice on Lake Michigan.
The water level of Lake Michigan/Huron is steady in the last month, but up 21″ in the last year. The lake(s) are 7″ above the March average water level. Lake Superior is down 2″ in the last month, but up 8″ year-to-year. Superior is still 8″ above the historic average for March. Lake Erie is down 3″ in the last month, down 1″ in the last year and now 5″ below the average for March. Lake Ontario is down 5″ in the last month, down 6″ year-to-year and it’s 11″ below the long term average. Lake St. Clair is up 2″ in the last month. 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. The water flow over Tahquamenon Falls slowed to almost nothing a week ago of the intense cold this winter.
Great Lakes news: Eagles on Lake Macatawa…100 years ago, the worst disaster ever on the Great Lakes…Lake Michigan salmon population…two gray wolves cross the ice from Canada to Isle Royale…the latest from Boatnerd.
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.
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) .
A 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.
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 ice: Total – 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 public. Super-Mackinac yacht race scheduled for July 11 will cover 568 miles. Confederate treasure in Lake Michigan? Cruise ship coming to the Great Lakes this summer.
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.