Documentation of Two Storms

I’m sure this won’t interest many people looking for a forecast out there, but I took some pictures of the storms last night. Thought it would be interesting to share.

First some pictures from Wednesday night into Thursday:

A slow-moving squall line developed and tracked across lower Michigan. I was again ready with the camera to catch any lightning, which was a plenty. The only downside was a lot of the lightning remained in the cloud.

Squall line slowly making its way across Michigan

Winds really picked up with the passage of the storm, and a quick check of the velocity radar revealed the gust front with the squall line.

Red and green colors represent wind directions relative to the radar location. Storm features can be made out based on location of these colors. Notice the red streak that resembles the squall on the regular radar above.

Did get a shot of some distant lightning behind a rain shaft. Had to crop the picture a little to show you the important part.

Bolt of lightning behind a rain shaft illuminates the horizon.

Thursday night, a slow-moving cell dumped a ton of rain over Jackson County. I checked the storm amount over one hour and easily an inch of rain had fallen, some places 1.5″. This storm wavered about, and I was curious about its course.

Flipping channels earlier that day, I came across local Meteorologist Chuck Gaidica giving a discussion on sea breeze and how it can help the spawn of thunderstorms. This is a really simple subject in the field of weather, and it is really neat to see or feel it in place. Sea breeze and land breeze occurs everyday. It is an on-off fluctuation. During the day, land heats up faster than water. This warmer gradient rises (warm air rises) over land and creates a low pressure area. (Basically air is being pulled up, so other air must rush to fill its place) Cooler temperatures over a water body rush in. This is why during the day, you feel a breeze coming off the lake or body of water, unless there is a raging thunderstorm at your back! This whole role is reversed at night since water can hold heat longer than land. Thus the body of water now produces the low pressure area and the wind will come from land to sea.

Anyway…Mr. Gaidica brought up that this rushing sea breeze can collide with a weather front and create uplift for thunderstorms. I didn’t see this happen last night, but this rushing boundary of lake air may have affected the storm moving across Jackson county. Hard to illustrate with a still image, but here we go:

Faint blue line in the red circle represents possible flow of air coming off Lake Erie. Mass of storms in blue circle were on a course roughly that of the arrows. Upon collision, the storm path varied and weakened.

The storm seemed to phase out soon after the apparent collision of the flow, but it was hard to track since the flow was only apparent for so long on radar. This was after the storm took an awkward shift due north, seemingly ‘hit’ by some object, perhaps that lake flow? In any case, an apparent outflow boundary appeared off the storms and it looked like it was done for (basically the storm was collapsing on itself, choking its warm air supply by producing heavy rains). The storm took a track north of my location, so we got a wonderful light show, mostly cloud to cloud.

What I was not expecting was the storm to refire off the outflow boundary. It did this over my location as well. This happened in a 5 min time span and the radar blossomed to life. Noticed a shot of magenta in the radar scan and realized with this rapid development, some hail could be on its way. No sooner, pea size hail began an assault on the house. Enough fell to briefly cover the deck, but it melted so fast, I couldn’t run upstairs and grab my camera in time to snap a shot of it. (Didn’t help I left it attached to the tripod from an earlier time-lapse)

Little spot of magenta revealing some hail?

Towards the end of the storm, the Red Wings game was finishing up as well and that was exciting. So I was torn between two things. However, sports can be caught up on later, storms are now or never!

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About gweatherc
Live in Michigan and enjoy observing the weather. Want to pursue it as a career! Currently taking classes at Central Michigan University.

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