Keeping It Cool

For a little while there, I was pretty optimistic a rebound of temperatures would come by. It now looks like we are in Fall’s grip. Last Thursday was really nice when we hit the mid 70s, but the following day retaliated with highs in the 50s.

I’ve spent some time thinking of a possible research/poster for annual NWA meetings and the like. So far I’ve thought about how storm conditions show different lightning characteristics, and something about deformation snows associated with a low pressure system in winter. Both I’ve experienced.

The lightning one is interesting. Since I pull my camera out during any lighting/storm activity, I’ve likened a few traits together. High precipitation storms, where you are literally getting rinsed even if behind a plate of glass, seem to have more cloud to cloud lightning than CG (cloud to ground). This could be due to the massive amount of rain in the sky which diffuses the light about and makes it act like a giant flashbulb, or it’s just that there is a TON of lightning going on. I learned last semester that high precip rates lead to frequent lightning, because the precipitation activity creates the + and – charges needed to create a polarized environment in a cloud. I’ve noted less cloud to ground bolts in the middle of a storm, and more on the edges of storms. Again, all of this could be relative, but I can never get crisp lightning photographs in the middle of a storm.

I also was thinking about a topic about deformation snows around a negatively tilted low pressure system. While the negative tilt has more to do about the trough with the system, the low is affected. I don’t know what relationship I would like to focus on, but maybe something like trying to pinpoint that sweet spot where someone will get buried. Yea, and it will be over my house.

Anyway. What’s the weather doing? Well Tuesday looks beautiful and windy. We should hover around normal temperatures this week with a shot of rain Tuesday night.

The aurora made another appearance here in Mount Pleasant. I rallied some room-mates up and we went searching for a wide open field to get some photos. Unfortunately the back road we thought was perfect, was not perfect for someone else and they chased us off. No worries though, sure the lights will be back. Did get a couple good shots and they can be found on my flickr page. Just click on one of the photos to the right.

Wxchallenge is going on. Actually put more effort in, and after learning some things these past years, I placed well for the first city. For anyone that is new, the Wxchallenge is a collegiate contest where you must forecast for a certain city over the course of two weeks. You must enter a forecast for high and low daily temp, wind speed, and precipitation. Points are given for error. So, say I forecast 78F, but the real high temp is 74F. I would be given 4 points of temp error. Scoring plays like golf, you want to have the lowest amount of points, thus the lowest amount of error. It can get intense sometimes! Especially when you see yourself doing well, and you spend that much more time making sure your next day is going to be spot on. I finished first in our CMU student group, but barely. Another junior was just 0.1 of a point behind me, so it was pretty tight up to the last day. Did get a few mean mugs from some seniors, but the next city will be interesting. Billings, MT is located near some mountains, and they goof everything up for us flatlanders!

CMU Wxchallenge final for Pensacola, FL. Would have been nice to have someone place in the top 50, but maybe next city.




S’all Fun and Games…Until the Power Goes Out

You tend to laugh at things when you’re so high above they pose no threat. I try not to, but we all do it.

Last week’s heat became real, when a strong complex of storms dropped power to the house and plenty of other people (close to 170,000). Some lost it Tuesday evening with storms, others in my case were in the dark early Thursday morning when a specifically strong storm with 60mph+ winds romped through from Central to SE Michigan.

It was the 1am ‘glance at radar before bed’ that made me churn out a few more hours of consciousness. Originally, I just wanted the storm to move in camera range to catch some distant lightning. As the camera shot a time-lapse, I noted the storm strengthening well and decided to ride it out and watch. I hoped it would scrape just north so we would miss a deluge of rain, but that went down the pipes as outflow caused development on the side of the storm and it eventually hit. This meant I needed to stop the camera since weather proofing only goes so far, and mine isn’t even considered weather proof. Did get these before it opened up:

And while it opened up:

Power flickered, and went out. At the time the worst thing on my mind was the weather station not reporting data to the masses! Because everyone does that, right? Since power was gone for a day and a half, I had to wait to see the differences and backlog to wunderground when I got the chance. Here is a snapshot from the software with assorted variables checked off. It’s a little busy, will need to find a good balance down the road.

Line chart showing the first power outage storm at 4:30am on July 5th, and a second round at 2:30pm. I goofed up this one, forgot to put in temperature measurement.

With the hot temperatures, we were sure to break some records right? Yup, we did, since right around 1936. The NWS Grand Rapids office has a pretty good wrap up of the event if you want to check it out.

Quite the Michigan day!

One of the benefits of living in Michigan as a weather freak is you get to see so many weather phenomenon, sometimes in the same day.

Yesterday started off with a heavy wet snowfall. Not going to lie, more than I had anticipated, probably near an inch in some areas. Through the day, temperatures were on the upswing and by midnight, storms were beginning to develop south of Mount Pleasant.

At one point a Mesoscale Discussion was underway whether or not to issue a severe thunderstorm watch, but hopes of that were dashed when no watch was issued. The storms that did roll through had plenty of lightning (of course its the first viewing in a few months) and some decent rains. Hail was later reported close to 3AM.

Brett, a friend in the meteorology program here at CMU, caught lightning in the act! Spectacular shot.


Brett Kreais snapped this shot of lightning last night as spring showers and storms finally arrived.


I attempted some shots myself, but didn’t feel like getting wet. Resorted to taking some video from inside. Also showing the contrasting weather elements from snow in the morning, to convective thunderstorms in the evening. Stick around to the end, slowed down the footage for a dramatic effect.

Decent warm up is on the menu for the rest of the week. There is a chance for some precip Wednesday, and temps will kick up into the 50s, possibly 60 on Saturday. Winter just has a hard time letting go, that’s all. With the quick snow melt, recent rain, and semi-frozen ground, flooding is possible. Watch your step and driving line for high waters specifically along rivers. Flood Advisory is out for the Chippewa River through Mount Pleasant with is expected to approach flood stage Wednesday. Places like the nearby golf course and Island Park could have some rather large puddles around them.