December 18, 2008 2 Comments
Welcome to Greg’s Weather Blog!
Bringing You Weather You Need To Know, And Some Not…
May 22, 2013 Leave a comment
Pretty interesting Spring we’ve had. With record snows in the Midwest and Plains during May, a well below average tornado count, and local heavy rains creating record river crests; this Spring continues to surprise and add variety.
What started out as nice spring showers, added up to become a spring surplus of water in major streams and rivers across central and southern lower Michigan. I witnessed the Chippewa River through Mount Pleasant crest at 10.46′ on April 19. The ASOS station at Mount Pleasant Airport (KMOP) recorded 2.57″ of rain that week, after a previous deluge of 3.02″ the week before. Combine this rainfall over a generous portion of Michigan and river banks are going to be tested. This event was #10 on a list of historical crests of the Chippewa River below Mt. Pleasant. Here is a list of the other 9 that out-measured 2013′s event. (USGS) A few photos of a night time trip to Island Park can be found on my Flickr page, or the sidebar.
This was only locally. The big headlines were in southwestern Michigan and east central Michigan. Saginaw County, MI declared a State of Emergency on April 24th with waters flooding much of the low lying farmland and residential areas. The Saginaw flooding is perhaps the most recognizable on the below loop I made from the Aqua polar orbiting satellite. A large hole of water appears near Saginaw, MI. Also note areas of lake ice that have been reduced, as well as increased spring foliage.
Other comparison images can be found on NASA’s Earth Observatory website: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/NaturalHazards/view.php?id=80977&src=eorss-nh
To the southwest, the Grand River flows east/west. This also was newsworthy as river levels broke records in Grand Rapids. There were some amazing photos taken in comparison, and in astonishment. Some downtown businesses had water up to the windows. At times the windows resembled aquarium tanks with fish checking out the strange invisible walls.
Rough week in the Plains, I’m sure may of you have heard. One of the reasons I took interest in the weather was being afraid of it at a young age. Soon curiosity grew, and I wanted to find out how this force of nature was formed. Thus began this journey. It is times like these I am reminded that the weather I love to learn about can rear a really ugly face now and again.
April 15, 2013 2 Comments
The past few weeks have proved a questionable spring. Temps failing to reach 60, frozen precipitation, a sun missing in action….can’t rely on Midwest weather to be on a consistent time-table.
At least two of these mentioned will be absent this week. Perhaps the most justifying, rain and warmer weather will arrive.
Rain is no stranger so far this Spring. A nice dose of 2+ inches across the region last week has us well above normal for the year(yellow line). Rain is again in the forecast for the week. Rainmakers will appear on Monday/Monday Night, as well as heading into Thursday when conditions may threaten for some severe weather along the Michigan/Ohio border. This will need to be looked at as the week progresses. Through next Saturday, a good two inches of rain could fall in already saturated areas, so flooding will again be possible.
At least the precipitation will be in liquid form. Sleet was reported in southern Michigan on Sunday, and Central Michigan University campus had a delayed start on Friday thanks to a sleet/freezing rain combination Thursday evening. That event may have been worse had the days leading up to the storm not been above freezing. Ground warmth did a good job at fighting off ice accumulation on surfaces. Trees don’t harbor this ability as well, and ice on the branches was evident while out and about on Friday.
Warm weather will filter into the region with our rain producing pattern. A ridge will amplify over the Midwest, and the warm air will be allowed to travel north. However, with that transport is the mentioned moisture. Temperatures will start in the lower 60s for Monday, and top out in the mid/upper 60s on Thursday. Once we have our stormy day on Thursday, the associated cold front and trough will bring in some cooler spring air, but still above freezing during the day. Yay progress! Hang in there!
April 2, 2013 1 Comment
As daylight becomes longer and temperatures get warmer, we move into our yearly cycle of weather changes. Snowstorms become rain and thunderstorms, and there is plenty to take note of as we head into another year of severe weather.
As produced by National Weather Service offices around Michigan, April 7-13 is Severe Weather Awareness week!
Earlier in March, I was remembering the unique events that launched Spring 2012 into a craze. We had record temps into the 80s, and multiple tornadoes tear across eastern Michigan. It was a very interesting start to the year, and it kept you on your toes for forecasting and figuring out just what the heck is going on up there! While Spring 2013 is moving in like a lamb, that lion could be waiting right around the corner, and being prepared is a priority.
Greg’s Tips for Severe Weather
NOAA Weather Radio
This is the single most valuable thing you can have for warning during a stormy day! We absorb weather through many sources these days; internet, TV, radio, word of mouth. When the winds start brewing and the power goes out, many of these reliable sources are cut down. Even if you have a backup generator, chances are your media services(internet/cable TV) will not be powered in your area. Having a battery-powered weather radio can keep you up to the minute warnings and weather information. The warning signal usually beats web updates by a few minutes as well. Weather Radios are also a hero at night if the house is asleep and dangerous weather is near. Keep them charged with batteries nearby!
Know Your Surroundings
This goes along great with the weather radio. While forecasters may get as specific as calling out road names and cities where the storms are near, you should also know the County names surrounding your location. Storms typically move West to East, sometimes SW to NE, sometimes NW to SE. Bottom line, know where you are relative to where the storm is. If you think a dangerous storm is going to miss you, do not take it for granted. Supercell thunderstorms are known to waver on path, and sometimes can change direction. Be prepared for anything!
Skywarn Classes (http://www.nws.noaa.gov/skywarn/)
These are great chances to learn about weather a little more in detail, and refined to severe weather scenarios. They are free, and usually run by a few forecasters from your local NWS office. That means they are run by the folks that track and watch for storms on a daily basis and know what to look for. You will go over everything from how to report weather threats to authorities, to determining if that ominous dark cloud is a wall cloud or shelf cloud(important!). Usually there is a great Spotter’s Field Guide that is handed out for quick reference, there is an online PDF version available here. Once you have learned this material, you become a very valuable resource to forecasting as you are an eye witness to the weather in your area. As useful as that is, always make sure your safety is first! NEVER put yourself in danger to get a report.
Know Your Clouds
As mentioned previously, knowing the difference between clouds can mean loads for the weather to expect. Low flying scud could prompt you to call it a wall cloud(precursor to tornadoes), but is that cloud rotating as well? Is is attached to the base of cloud above it? How about those shelf clouds that take up the entire horizon? Much of this is detailed in the Skywarn classes, but this is something that can help you out in a fix, and impress others.
“Yea, that storm is way far from my house, I don’t need to pay attention.” Always take note of Watches/Warnings. Along those lines, know the difference between a Watch and a Warning.
Severe Thunderstorm Watches and Tornado Watches mean conditions in the atmosphere are favorable for that type of weather to develop, so be ready for storms later in the day, or within the next couple hours.
Severe Thunderstorm Warnings and Tornado Warnings mean a severe storm has been spotted/identified, and is tracking along the specified path. Take appropriate action immediately if you are in the track of the storm.
Watches = be ready for storms soon/later in the day
Warnings = take action immediately if you are identified in the path of a storm
A disclaimer I must make about the blog; Greg’s Weather Blog is not a good source for immediate severe weather forecasting! Please do not rely on this page for up to the minute information on storms! Head to http://www.weather.gov for that, and type in your Zip Code to find yourself quickly and any Watches/Warnings that are in effect.
Take care out there!
March 12, 2013 Leave a comment
In mid January, I went on a bike ride around town due to pleasant temperatures in the mid 50s. On my way back, I looked up at a progressing layer of altocumulus to see a giant bald spot.
I pondered for a little while over what it was, but I had a suspicion. As the shape held together, I knew it was a fallstreak hole! These are pretty rare but certainly catch the eye since it is a good patch of blue sky surrounded by a deck of cloud.
I knew planes were a common trigger of these because of the air mixing they cause flying through a cloud layer. Just 15 minutes ago I saw a low plane fly by and I wondered if it was caused by that. Once I got home I looked at a visible satellite view and spotted a pretty good train of fallstreak holes across central Michigan. They seemed to be on this lip of altocumulus cloud, ahead of thicker stratus clouds associated with a tracking low pressure system. With this pattern, I doubt a plane would have caused these holes. But it will remain a mystery.
Since I lost that specific image of the visible satellite view. I went digging.
NOAA CLASS (Comprehensive Large Array-Data Stewardship System) is a great resource for looking at archived satellite images. Anything from popular GOES imagery to the new Suomi VIIRS satellite images can be ‘ordered’ and downloaded. It is a large site, and it takes a little while to understand it and navigate. However once you get that crisp satellite image, you’re hooked!
Anyway, a week later I went to CLASS and started narrowing down my search results (you can easily get bogged down in hundreds of thousands of images if the search isn’t spot on). I selected the region over the Great Lakes/Michigan, and selected a time period of 2 hours around when I saw the hole from the ground. I ordered the 800mb file and got it downloaded.
The VIIRS images are .h5 files, so they must be viewed in a compatible program. I found HDFView to be a simple, free utility. What did I get? An image of some place with a bunch of clouds on it.
Now the search features on the website had me select a region on a map to narrow down where I want an image, so I knew I must be somewhere in the upper U.S. A few features on the image stand out, so we can to match these up with a map with boundaries on it.
Looking at the details of the surface on the bottom left, it has a good consistency and it appears to have cracks on it, so this was possibly a frozen-over lake…a large one. At this time I still believed it to be a usual North at the top image. But was this really true? I went to Google maps and started searching for clues. That other patch of undisturbed white in the middle of the image almost looks like Lake Michigan, but that can’t be right. It is definitely another body of water however. Where am I?! Am I even on Earth? Then I had a breakthrough. Matching the coast line of that large lake, I noticed how there was a sharp point that pointed towards this other vertical ‘lake’. Sure enough things became clear, I was holding the treasure map upside down. This stock image was flipped 180 degrees (possibly because of ascending and descending orbits of the polar-orbiting craft, similar to MODIS), and the large lake I am looking at is a frozen over Hudson Bay with adjacent Lake Winnipeg.
Locating Lake Winnipeg, I cruised east and there was the upper portion of the mitten. Thunder Bay is pretty recognizable on the north-eastern tip. These images are high-resolution, so you can zoom in a get nice details. Bingo, there’s our fallstreak holes! This was taken at roughly 2:19 pm EST, so it was about 20-30 minutes before I saw the hole over Mount Pleasant.
This was a really cool find, and will definitely be using this method to document past weather events in the future!