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The above map from Brian Brettschneider and the NWS shows the probability of a White Thanksgiving. West Michigan is in the 20-40% category. The average high/low temperature for 11/23 in G.R. is 44/31 – still warm enough that most of the precipitation is still rain. This year winter is off to an early start over a large part of the Northern Hemisphere.
This map from the National Snow and Ice Data Center shows snow cover over the U.S. and Canada. 13.1% of the contiguous U.S. had snow on the ground this (Tue) morning. That compares to only 0.3% on this date last year. Almost all of Canada has snow on the ground. Rutgers University has a Snow Lab that has been keeping a record of snow cover for the last 50 years. The latest update showed that this year’s North American snow cover ranks 7th greatest out of those 50 years and for the Northern Hemisphere, snow cover ranks 9th out of the last 50 years. Dr. Judah Cohen (and others) from M.I.T. has done considerable research on the correlation between early snow cover in North America and Eurasia and the severity of the coming winter in the Northern Plains, Great Lakes and Northeast. His latest analysis supports the Storm Team 8 winter forecast of cooler temperatures and above average precipitation.
This is the 6-10 day temperature outlook from the Climate Prediction Center for Nov. 20-24. That’s Monday through Friday of next week, including Thanksgiving. Lower Michigan is “in the blue and that means a higher than normal chance of below average temperatures. The pattern is cool in the East and warm in the West.
Here’s global sea surface water temperature anomaly (difference from average temperature). You can clearly see the La Nina (colder than average water temperatures along the Equator west of South America. Knowing the date and just looking at this map…I’d have to forecast above average precipitation in the Great Lakes over the next several months, with a ridge trying to maintain itself off the SE coast of the U.S. and cold air coming off the snowcover down into the N. Rockies and N. Plains and Great Lakes.
LimnoTech has retrieved the last of 7 nearshore buoys that they place in Lake Michigan and Lake Erie during the boating season. WOOD and Storm Team 8 is a proud partner in placing these privately-funded buoys in Lake Michigan. The buoys sit approximately 2.75 miles offshore of Port Sheldon-Holland, South Haven and Berrien County. If you or your company has an interest in helping to fund the buoys for next year, drop me (email@example.com) or Kyle Underwood (firstname.lastname@example.org) an email and we’ll get you in touch with someone who can help you out. Here’s a list of buoys in the Great Lakes.
The NOAA north mid-Lake Michigan buoy (halfway between N. Manitou Is. and Washington Is) and the south mid-Lake Michigan buoy (40 miles west of Holland) are still out in the lake, but will be retrieved soon. This (Tues.) evening, the south buoy showed a water temp. of 50.7F and waves of 3.9 feet. The north buoy showed a water temp. of 49.5 and waves of 8.9 feet. Not only is the wind stronger at the north buoy (27 mph vs. 22 mph at the south buoy), but the wind is south, so the waves have a longer fetch (distance over water) allowing the waves to increase in size.
The ski season is officially underway in Michigan. Ski Brule in the U.P. opened today (Fri.) at 10 am. Lift tickets are free today. They got 3″ of natural snow yesterday, a foot of natural snow this week and they already have a 36″ base of mostly powder snow. The pic. is snowmaking last night at Schuss Mt. With temps. in the teens, they were cranking out the powder. A couple of ski resorts are open in Minnesota. They are already skiing in the Rockies and West. In Colorado, Loveland, Arapahoe, Copper Mt., Breckenridge and Keystone are all open.
19.7% of the U.S. had a snowcover this (Fri.) morning…that’s well above average for the date…and look at all the snow across Canada. Air moving down from Canada is going to be cold coming off all that snow.
Today is the 42nd anniversary of the famous storm that resulted in the sinking of the ore-carrier Edmund Fitzgerald.
The wreck occurred just north of Whitefish Point in Lake Superior. Twenty-nine men were lost as the Fitzgerald sank in 530 feet of water. The ship was launched June 8, 1958, and was the largest ship on the Great Lakes until 1971. It was carrying a cargo of 26,116 tons of taconite pellets, which are used in the steelmaking industry.
A popular song by Canadian folk-singer Gordon Lightfoot titled “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” reached No. 2 on the Billboard chart one year later (lyrics). You can hear the song here and see a list of Great Lakes shipwrecks.
A service is held in River Rouge Michigan to pay honor to those lost on the Fitzgerald. A bell tolls 29-times for the 29 men (who ranged in age from 21 to 63) who were lost that night, plus one additional time for all those lost in the Gales of November on the Great Lakes. The service is free and is streamed on the web. Read more here and here.
Here’s video of the Edmund Fitzgerald on the floor of Lake Superior. Here’s simulated waves for the Fitzgerald Storm. And here’s audio from that fateful night. Here’s where there are ships on the Great Lakes right now.
Approximately 240 ships have sunk in the Whitefish Point area since the first recorded sinking in 1816.
We’ve had quite a few of our strongest low pressure storms during this second week of November, including the Freshwater Fury of 1913, the Armistice Day Storm of 1940 (strongest wind gust ever in G.R.) and the Nov. 10, 1998 storm that was similar to the storm in 1975.
We have a new tropical storm. We’re down to the letter “R”. This storm is called Rina. It’s over the central Atlantic, far from land. Rina will move move north and then northeast, eventually losing tropical characteristics and becoming a windy, rainy low pressure center. Here’s the latest Public Advisory, Forecast Discussion and the Funktop Satellite Loop.
Also: Snowcover increasing rapidly and well above average in Canada. Arctic ice extent highest since 2006. Heavy snow in Austria. Heavy snow in Italy. Heavy snow in France. Snow in the Rockies and High Plains. Snow in Montana. Snow in SD. Snow in Washington State. Pretty sunset on the Great Salt Lake. Lions did not have to punt for the first time since 1971 in their game at Green Bay. Here’s some support for a cold, snowy winter. Pretty pic. of full moon and Jacksonville FL. Canyon Fire in CA most likely caused by a road flare. Pretty fall pic. from Rome GA. Ka-BOOM! Pretty fall scene with train in AL. Pretty fall scene. Waterfall. Rainbow over NYC. Pretty fall colors in NY. Tallest buildings poke out of fog at sunrise. Rainbow in NC. Fall colors in MD. 18″ of rain in the last week at Chenna, India. Fall colors in KY. NAO turning negative…another sign the cool pattern will continue into next week. Same story for the AO (Arctic Osceillation). From Dr. Judah Cohen: North American snow cover is at decadal highs.
There was a long-track strong EF2 tornado Sunday afternoon south and southeast of Fort Wayne IN. The twister was on the ground for 39 miles and remained intact for an hour and six minutes. The peak winds were estimated at 134 mph. The peak width of the tornado was 400 yards (that’s 4 times the length of a football field. The twister started near the town of Eaton and passed near the towns of Dunkirk and Portland. It crossed the Ohio border and finally dissipated west of Celina. Here’s 4 videos of the tornado. Pictures and more here. The storms also produced hail and wind damage.
There was some flooding with rainfall up to 3.86″ (at Lake Wawasee IN) reported. Here’s a list of storm reports for Nov. 5.
Also: The GFSX gives G.R. a high temp. of 33 on Fri. We get a rain/snow mix Sat. PM changing to all rain We don’t get back to 50 deg. until Tue. 11/14.
There is a chance of thunderstorms Sunday (PM) and a few of those storms could be severe.
This is the Severe Risk Area for Sunday from the Storm Prediction Center. It’s not too often that an outlook area is defined 4 days out and we now have a 30% area outlined across E. Illinois, much of Indiana and far NW Ohio. 30% means a 30% chance of a severe report within 25 miles of a point location. SPC says: “Although model timing differences exist, trends continue to point to severe thunderstorms capable of large hail, damaging wind and isolated tornadoes on Sun/D4, roughly from Illinois into Ohio. A broad area of cyclonic flow aloft with dual/parallel shortwave troughs will affect the upper and middle MS Valleys, and points east including the Great Lakes region. Some early day storms may exist across the region as southerly winds create lift near a warm front, but the main severe weather threat will be near the surface low and cold front as it sweeps eastward from Sunday afternoon into Monday morning. Cold temperatures aloft, a capping inversion over the warm sector and long hodographs suggest supercells may be the dominant storm mode, creating damaging hail and wind. A few tornadoes will also be possible given a 50 kt low-level jet, and most likely with any supercells that can track eastward along the intersection of the cold front and warm front/outflow boundary.” In Lower Michigan at this point the farther south you are, the greater the threat of severe weather.
Note – I had a tooth pulled today…so I’m off today (and tomorrow and Saturday), but I’ll continue to update the blog once or twice a day.
In 2013, the biggest severe weather day of the year in Michigan and the U.S. was November 17. On the map, each red dot was a tornado report, each blue dot was a wind damage report and each green dot a severe hail report. Here’s a list of severe weather reports that day. Here’s a nice write up on the storms from the NWS. There was an EF4 tornado in Central Illinois in the late morning that resulted in one fatality and 122 injuries. The low death count shows that many people moved to safer shelter as the storm approached. That’s 136 tornadoes, 579 reports of wind damage and 42 severe hail reports.
We’ve worked our way down to the letter “P” in the alphabet. Philippe was the 16th named storm of 2017 hurricane season. 8th year on record with 16+ named storms thru 10/28. Philippe moved north, became extratropical and merged with a low that moved quickly up through New England. The storm brought down some chilly air on the backside of it…with a high of just 45 Sunday PM in Atlanta. Here’s current Florida weather observations.
The storm will continue moving north toward Maine and eastern Canada.
Here’s current radar in the Northeastern U.S. As I write this early Monday AM – there are no hurricane or tropical storm warnings up anywhere in the world. Tropical Storm Saola moved past Japan over the weekend and became a windy low pressure system in the Gulf of Alaska.
Very strong winds in Upper Michigan downed trees and powers lines, leaving thousands of customers without power. The Alger Co. Sheriff is urging residents to stay home. A man and women got swept off Black Rocks by the waves of Lake Superior on Tuesday afternoon around 1:35 p.m. The U.S. Coast Guard helicopter from Traverse City has arrived in the area to assist with the rescue operation. Marquette City Police have advised that anyone who attempts to go out to Presque Isle Island could be arrested. Several shelters have been opened to aid those without power. Wow! Check out this picture of a HUGE wave on Lake Superior!
If you don’t know about Stannard Rock. It’s a lighthouse on a tiny reef 24 miles east of the Keweenaw Peninsula of Upper Michigan, the most distant lighthouse from land in the U.S. The lighthouse was completed in 1883. The lighthouse was manned for 78 years and had the nickname “The Loneliest Place in the World”.
The lighthouse was automated in 1962 and the Coast Guard still maintains it as an active aid to navigation. It’s closed to the public and can only be viewed by boat or airplane. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. The weather is fierce out here and it’s a testimony to the builders that it still stands 134 years after it was built.
Here’s a record of waves at the buoy. Note how quickly the waves increased and how easily a boat could get in trouble and maybe not get back to shore as the wind and waves ramped up. Here’s a picture of waves at the shore at Au Train today.
The strong north wind, combined with high lake levels, has resulted in flooding along the Lake Superior shore and significant beach erosion.
M-26 was closed in Keweenaw County between these markers … high winds, waves bringing water and debris onto roadway. Here’s video of the waves on the Lake Superior shore.
Snow is falling over much of the U.P. with up to 4″ accumulation possible tonight.
Here in West Michigan, waves were washing over the piers and breakwaters. This pic. is South Haven. Waves this evening have reached 12.1 ft. at the S. Haven buoy and 11.5 ft. at the Port Sheldon buoy.
The top pic. is sunset Friday evening at the Muskegon, Michigan Channel, where there was a fair amount of boat traffic for Oct. 20. It was an unseasonably warm day across the Great Lakes. The high temperature of 81 at Houghton was 30 degrees warmer than the average high temp. for the date!
Lake Michigan water temps. are warmer than average due to the warm weather we’ve had over the past 6 weeks. Note the spike that occurred when we had the 6 days in the 90s from Sept. 21-26. The water temp. of the Great Lakes is certainly a factor during lake-effect snow (and rain) events.
The water level of Lake Michigan/Huron (one lake for lake-level purposes) is down 2″ in the last month, but up 7″ year-to-year. The lake remains 17″ above the average October water level. Lake Superior is also down 2″ in the last month…but up 3″ in the last year. Superior is now 7″ above the October average. Lake Erie is down 4″ in the last month, but up 6″ in the last year and 16″ above the average Oct. level. Lake Ontario dropped 7″ in the last month (they have been trying to reduce the water level of Ontario, after an all-time record high level was reached last spring. Ontario is still 13″ above the level of one year ago and 9″ above the October average. Lake St. Clair is down 5″ in the last month, up 5″ year-to-year and 18″ above the Oct. average. All the rivers that connect the Great Lakes have above average flow and that is expected to continue into 2018.
River levels are falling after last weekends heavy rain, but are still high. As I write this (2am Sat. 10/21), the Grand River in G.R. shows a flow of 4,100 cubic feet per second, about double the average flow of 1,910 for the date. The Kalamazoo River at Comstock is at 1,710 cfs compared to an average of 629 cfs. Areas that didn’t see the heavy rain have average water levels. The Muskegon River at Croton is at 1,290 cfs, almost exactly at the average flow of 1,280 cfs.
Also: Great Lakes ports enjoying one of the best shipping years ever. Michigan DNR nears completion of fisheries strategic plan. Reintroducing the Canada lynx to Isle Royale. Lake Superior’s high water level threatens shoreline. Marinette shipbuilder lands 584 million dollar contract. “Epic” salmon run this fall. Sea lamprey numbers up. Lakes Huron and Michigan have gotten significantly clearer in the past 20 years. Thousands of lake sturgeon released. Diver discovers historic wreck.
There’s rain in the forecast for fire-ravaged California…nothing like the rain we had in Southern Michigan on Saturday, but welcome rain nonetheless. With the rain, there will be higher humidity. Also, winds have been lighter than forecast over the weekend. When I checked at 7 pm Sunday, all the weather stations in the area were reporting winds under 10 mph. The wind at the San Francisco Airport was only 3 mph, Napa reported a NE wind at 6 mph and Santa Rosa’s wind was S at 5 mph.
So far this year, there have been 51,126 wildfires in the U.S. – that’s below the 11-year average of 55,856 fires year-to-date. For all wildfires in California there are 275 crew fighting the fires – that’s 12,201 firefighters. They had 996 fire engines and 42 helicopters. With light winds and relatively cool temperatures, they have made significant progress on containing the fires. North Bay firefighters say they have “turned the corner”. “A week ago this started as a nightmare, and the day we dreamed of has arrived,” Napa County Supervisor Belia Ramos said. Some of the fires are now 50 percent or more contained. Sonoma County officials said they will not let people return home until it is safe and utilities are restored. Crews have been working around the clock to connect water and power, in some cases putting up new poles next to smoldering trees, the sheriff said. Evacuation orders were lifted for the city of Calistoga, the Napa Valley city of 5,000.
We have a Wind Advisory in effect until 8 pm. The NWS warns: “Winds will become Northwest and increase to 30 to 40 mph overnight tonight with wind gusts up to 55 mph.” If winds get this strong, there will be spotty downed trees/limbs and power outages. There are Gale Warnings for Lake Michigan for winds up to 40 knots and waves to 8-12 ft. Stay off piers and breakwaters today.
The Flood Watch that has been in effect for the entire area has expired. A Flood Warning for Van Buren, Kalamazoo, Calhoun, Allegan, Barry and Eaton Counties. There are Flood Advisories in effect for a number of rivers, including the Grand, Thornapple and Kalamazoo Rivers.
Also – 5.4″ Oshtemo, 5.25″ Hartford, 4.90″ Watervliet, Scottdale 4.72″, 4.51″ Benton Harbor, 4.5″ Lawrence, 4.32″ Dowagiac, 3.55″ S. Haven, 3.2″ Grand Junction and 3.15″ Jackson – and it’s still raining as I type this. Rain will diminish to scattered light showers and sprinkles this evening.
Here’s some concerns for this Sunday…the heavy rain may have caused road washouts. Don’t drive into water moving across the road. Water can also erode away the edge of a road and you can catch your tire. We have rapidly rising creeks and rivers…some will reach bankfull or above. Fortunately, river levels weren’t too high to begin with. With the gusty winds today, watch out for downed tree limbs. Limbs can bring down power lines. As I type this there are 2,472 Consumers Energy customers without power.
This is what Saturday looked like at the S. Haven Channel. Grand Rapids has had 4 consecutive overcast days. The last time that happened was in January, when we ended the month with 10 days in a row with 0% sunshine.
Regional and local radar maps should update automatically.
Also: Waves to 46 feet possible with Hurricane Ophelia (not really a hurricane, but a strong extratropical cyclone) as it moves toward Ireland and Great Britain. Tropical Storm Khanun heads toward S. China and Vietnam. Full Earth satellite loop. Helicopter view of firefighting. Kelvin-Helmholtz “wave clouds“. Puerto Rico before and after hurricane Maria. Thousands of aid workers in Puerto Rico – but a daunting task. Some electricity has been restored on the island. Fall color in W. Virginia. They spent 6 hours in a pool while the wildfire consumed their neighborhood. Five days in a row with no sunspots. California tree burning from the inside. Flooding in Vietnam. Therer was a small tornado near Aurora, Oregon.
Links: Grand Rapids radar, Northern Michigan radar, Milwaukee radar, Northern Indiana radar, Chicago radar, Detroit radar, Regional radar, the Updated GRR NWS Short Term Discussion. 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, the National warning/watch/advisory map, and a surface weather map. Here’s Storm Total Rainfall. You can check out 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 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), the buoy at Big Sable Point near Ludington and the weather station on the beach at St. Joseph. Cool U.S. satellite loop. Here’s a link to ReportIt – where you can send us your pictures, video and storm reports.
The weather was favorable Thursday night into Friday night, cool and relatively calm. As I type this at 1 am EDT Sat. AM…Santa Rosa has a calm wind and a cool 53 degrees and Napa’s wind is northeast at 5 mph and 52 degrees. Here’s current weather conditions in CA. The total number of personnel fighting the fires in N. California is 10,285. That represents 257 crews. They have 906 fire engines and 70 helicopters. There are Coast Guard and National Guard fighting the fires. As of 10 pm EDT, the Atlas Fire is 45% contained. Bicyclist escapes Santa Rosa wildfire carrying 70-pound dog on her back! (see pics. at the bottom of the link). Complete fire coverage from KRON. Pictures of the fires from space.
This was sunset last Monday from our Noto’s at the Bil-Mar camera at Grand Haven, Michigan – looking out over Lake Michigan. While we were in a dry pattern in W. Michgian from July thru September, Lake Michgian/Huron, the water level of Lake Michigan/Huron has been slow to fall. We continue to get above average flow down the St. Mary’s River from Lake Superior and many other parts of the Great Lakes have had more rain than we have had. However, the water level of Lake Michigan/Huron has dropped 3″ in the last month. It’s still up 7″ year-to-year and is now 17″ above the October average level. With a fairly wet pattern for the next week or two (and possibly into the winter), I don’t think we’ll see a significant falloff in the water level of the lakes beyond the usual seasonal drop. Lake Superior is actually up 2″ in the last month and up 5″ in the last year. Superior is an even foot above the October average level. Lake Erie is also high…down one inch in the last month, but up 10″ in the last year and it stands 21″ above the average level. Lake Ontario is down 7″ in the last month (they have really worked hard at getting the water level of Ontario down after record high levels were reached this past spring). Ontario is still 16″ above the level of Oct. 2016 and 16″ above the average level for Oct. Lake St. Clair is down 1″ in the last month, up 10″ year-to-year and is 22″ above the century Oct. average.
Some ominous looking clouds hang over the Mackinac Bridge this late morning, though as I write this, there is no significant rain in the area. The flow of all the rivers that connect the Great Lakes continue to be above average. The St. Clair River at Port Huron is running at 217,000 cubic feet per second, compared to an average flow of 177,000 cfs. The flow on the St. Mary’s River at Sault Ste. Marie is at 118,000 cfs and, while I don’t have the average flow at my fingertips today, I know that’s well above average flow. The Detroit River at Detroit is at 238,000 cfs compared to an average of 186 cfs.
Great Lakes News: Lake Superior’s high water level threatens shoreline. First-ever Great Lakes Islands Summit. 93-pound petoskey stone. Lakes Huron and Michigan have gotten significantly clearer in the past 20 years. DNR releases thousands of sturgeon. Historic shipwreck found in Lake Huron. A drop of water that fell into Lake Superior in 1826 is just now leaving the lake. Sleeping Bear Dunes warns visitors of beach full of broken glass. What you need to know to surf the Great Lakes. Great Lakes skywatches say they can “hear” the Northern Lights. A drop of water that fell into Lake Superior in 1826 is now just leaving the lake. 370 acres on Lake Huron donated to the Little Traverse Conservancy. Ohio’s oldest shipwreck. Economic boom in Traverse City. Photographing Great Lakes shipwrecks. Unknown black substance threatens minnows. Lake Michigan is deadliest Great Lake. DNR releases stocking numbers.
Current water temps: S. Haven Buoy 60.0, Port Sheldon 62.1, Muskegon 62.6, Ludington 61.7, Wilmette IL 59.2, Reeds Lake in East Gr. Rapids 65. The bond between beer and Lake Michigan.
You’ve probably seen the story of the ice cream truck that got crushed by a falling tree in Kalamazoo on Saturday. I checked the weather observations from the weather station at the Kalamazoo Airport and they had a peak wind gust of 36 mph. The airport is about four miles east-southeast of where the tree fell. While it’s not impossible that the wind could have been a little stronger on Springmont Ave. – the better chance is that gusts of 30-36 were more likely in that neighborhood. Normally, gusts like that are not strong enough to bring down whole trees or even large branches. If you look at the video we showed Monday evening, you can see the tree was pretty rotten and due to fall. Kalamazoo didn’t have a wind gust over 30 mph from Sept. 17. During that time it was hot and dry with less than a quarter of an inch of rain from Sept. 20-Oct. 5.
I saw this very thing happen when I was in college. I used to ride by bicycle to the zoo in Madison WI and find a quiet place to read and study. On a warm, sunny fall day with only a faint breeze, I saw a very large limb come crashing to the ground, barely missing a little girl (and an elephant, who seem quite unfazed by the event). Same thing…the limb was rotten inside and it weakened to the point where it came down, even in a wind of less than 10 mph. This article says “they can come crashing down even on a calm day, according to the USDA Forest Service”
I’m glad the driver and the girls were OK.