4/16/14

Why It's a Big Deal That Half of the Great Lakes Are Still Covered in Ice & Recent April Snow

I decided to relay a very interesting article on the the effects on the cold and snowy winter of 2013-14 had (and should have) on the Great Lakes...much of it positive. What is probably the most notable is the possibility of dramatic jumps in water levels - which already are expected to rise around a foot. Note the following from the article;

"Though *Kompoltowicz says the usual March and April rise in water levels is occurring later than usual this year, already the lakes are seeing water levels that they haven't had for several years. This past March marked the first time since April of 1998 that Lake Superior had reached its long-term average. And over the next few months, melting snow will feed the lakes and colder water could lower the rates of summer and fall evaporation. The amount of rain could either add to or subtract from this total. The Army Corps of Engineers and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration generally forecast water levels six months out, and predicted levels for this September, Kompoltowicz says, range from 10 to 13 inches higher than lake levels were a year ago".

*Keith Kompoltowicz, the chief of watershed hydrology for the Army Corps of Engineers' Detroit District. The entire article can be found here.


And finally, on the subject of our recent April snow;

I think the following picture of the snow on 4/15 and the fatigued crocuses smothered in it - reflects most of the feelings of the inhabitants of Southeast Lower Michigan. Get Lost Winter & Bring On Spring!! LOL


Hopefully (and most likely) it was our last measurable snow on 4/15...Next Up; The Incredible Winter of 2013-14  

Making weather fun while we all learn,
Bill Deedler -SEMI_WeatherHistorian

4/2/14

40TH Anniversary of the Tornado Super-Outbreak - April 3-4, 1974

I remember the night well, it was a Wednesday evening - April 3, 1974. Just 19 years old and going to college, I had worked the previous summer at the National Weather Service Detroit /DTW/ and was on the doorstep of my career. I had arrived home, anxious to put on my NOAA NWR (of course at time, there was no internet, no TWC - just local news which paled in comparison to today's local news stations). Our "new" NOAA Weather Radio /NWR/ was blasting the risk of severe weather along with radar summaries that were updated just once an hour. As the northern end of the severe storm complex approached; severe weather warnings were read over the NWR - KEC-63 Detroit - for the southeast corner of Lower Michigan. While extreme south-central and southeast lower Michigan was clipped by severe weather and tornadoes, by far the main show was to our south (see map) as all hell broke lose.

 


An excellent account of the Super-Outbreak can be found on Nashville's NWS site. Also, check out the re-analysis of the monstrous synoptic storm and severe weather event; Revisiting the 3–4 April 1974 Super Outbreak of Tornadoes - STEPHEN CORFIDI AND STEVEN WEISS at the NOAA/NWS/NCEP/Storm Prediction Center, Norman, Oklahoma. I had the pleasure of working with Steve Weiss at the WSFO-DTW in 1974 during our early days in the NWS.

Making weather fun while we all learn,
Bill Deedler -SEMI_WeatherHistorian


3/26/14

First Time In the History of Great Lakes Navigation - No Vessels Made it to the Soo Locks for the Opening!

For the first time in history, no vessels made it to the Soo Locks for opening of the 2014 navigation season due to extreme ice cover - results of the extreme hard winter across the Great Lakes.

See:
Courtesy of the Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab in Ann Arbor MI /GLERL/

 https://www.facebook.com/noaa.glerl?hc_location=timeline

3/21/14

The Warmest March Ever in 2012 is Replaced By the Coldest March Ever (Thus Far) in 2014 - Will it Remain So as Another Arctic Air Mass is On Its Way?

It is always been said Mother Nature has a way of balancing herself out and that certainly can be said of the Marches across Great Lakes the last few years. March of 2012 was obscenely mild across the Great Lakes and Southeast Lower Michigan, read it and weep....

Unprecedented Warm March Blows Several Records Away!

Never in modern climate record keeping had there been a March like this past March for warmth across Southeast Lower Michigan. All three cities (Detroit, Flint and Saginaw) blew away their previous warmest March records by about three degrees! Detroit left it's old record warm March's /1945/ average temperature /47.9/ in the dust by nearly three degrees /+2.8/, while Flint surpassed it's old record March /1945/ temperature /46.0/ by an even wider margin with 3.5 degrees! Saginaw was just a tenth shy of the 3.0 degree exceedance with +2.9 degrees above the old record of 45.1, also in 1945 (see more on March of 1945 from a write up I did back in 1997; including a rather interesting but depressing account of the weather that followed that spring and beyond across the central and northeast portion of the country).

From the climate records at the NWS in White Lake /DTX/:

Top Ten Warmest Marchs


DTW
FNT
MBS
1.    50.7    (2012)
1.    49.5    (2012)
1.    48.0    (2012)
2.    47.9    (1945)
2.    46.0    (1945)
2.    45.1    (1945)
3.    46.1    (1946)
3.    44.6    (1946)
3.    44.0    (1910)
4.    44.0    (2000)
4.    41.4    (1929)
4.    42.0    (1938)
4.    44.0    (1910)
5.    41.3    (2000)
5.    41.9    (1946)
6.    43.3    (1973)
5.    41.3    (1973)
6.    41.4    (2000)
7.    42.5    (1921)
7.    40.8    (1938)
7.    40.7    (1977)
8.    42.4    (2010)
8.    40.4    (1935)
8.    40.6    (1903)
9.    41.6    (1938)
9.    40.1    (1936)
9.    40.5    (1929)
9.    41.6    (1929)
9.    40.1    (1921)
10.   39.4   (2010)


Number of days in which each of the climate site had high temperatures at/or above 60, 70 and 80 degrees in March:

SITE # Days at or Above 60 # Days at or Above 70 # Days at or above 80
DTW 18 11 3
FNT 18 10 4
MBS 17 10 4


Last March /2013/ did do an about face on March of 2012 with colder than normal readings across the region but NOTHING like this March as temperatures just averaged a couple of degrees below normal.

Note where the March temperature places thus far as of the first day of spring and in spite of our "mild spells"recently. I think what is most amazing in the metro Detroit area is that this March's average temperature thus far is about half of what it was two years ago for March. In other words, we had twice the heat in March 2012 than we've had thus far this March! Think that's bad; it gets worse in the Flint and Saginaw areas. If one doubles Flint's March average temperature /22.7/ it still wouldn't be close to the 49.5 reading of two years ago. Same at Saginaw with an average temperature 22.1, doubling that would give a 44.2...a far cry from the 48.0 degrees in 2012! Another mind blowing item is that the range from the record warmest March to this record cold March thus far is 25 degrees at Detroit! Flint is even wider with 28.3 degrees from warmest to coldest while Saginaw is 25.9.  And, excepting for Flint, both Detroit and Saginaw this has happened in the last two Marches!

Top 20 Coldest/Warmest Marches in Southeast Lower Michigan
 
Rank Detroit Area* Flint Bishop** Saginaw Area***
Coldest Warmest Coldest Warmest Coldest Warmest
Temp Year Temp Year Temp Year Temp Year Temp Year Temp Year
1 25.7 25.9 1877 50.7 2012 21.2 1960 49.5 2012 22.1 22.91960 48.0 2012
2 26.2 1960 47.9 194522.7  26.7 1978 46.0 1945 23.8 1912 45.1 1945
326.3 1900 46.1 1946 26.8 1984 44.6 1946 24.5 1900 44.0 1910
4 26.3 1885 44.0 2000 27.1 1965 41.4 1929 24.6 1916 42.0 1938
5 26.4 1912 44.0 1910 27.6 1940 41.3 2000 25.1 1978 41.9 1946
6 28.0 1875 43.3 1973 28.0 1950 41.3 1973 25.7 1926 41.4 2000
7 28.2 1906 42.5 1921 28.0 1947 40.8 1938 26.0 1923 40.7 1977
8 28.5 1895 42.4 2010 28.1 1996 40.4 1935 26.2 1950 40.6 1903
9 28.6 1940 41.6 1938 28.6 1932 40.1 1936 26.5 1965 40.5 1929
10 28.6 1888 41.6 1929 28.8 1926 40.1 1921 26.5 1940 39.4 2010

Yellow Highlight; Rank/Temp thru the March 19th
Red highlight; March 2012 Temp Ave

Of course as stated, this March is not finished, the latter third will raise the mean temperature somewhat as logically just from a climatic stance, the last third of the month is generally the warmest - or will it be? Let's take a look....

Latest trends in all guidance is to bring the yet another unseasonably cold air mass down from the Arctic beginning later this weekend and lasting into at least mid-late week before some moderation. At their coldest; temperatures will range in the 20s to the lower 30s for highs and 5 to 15 for lows...or 15 to 25 degrees again below normal. Average highs across Southeast Lower Michigan are generally approaching 50 by the last week of March while lows fall into the upper 20s to lower 30s. The upper air ensemble mean representing the jet stream by the middle of next week, displays the source of our new air mass well (and not unlike the numerous old ones) - the Arctic. And perhaps the most telling about next weeks cold...those predicted temperatures next week - the first full week of spring - are normals for the coldest of the winter.
 




Note the huge ridge up into the Arctic Circle that is aiding in draining the coldest of air from the North Pole, south across Canada and into the eastern U.S. (displayed by the red arrows on the above map). Also, remember a negative EPO (projected below) encourages ridging and blocking well up into the Arctic around Alaska and western North America. A negative EPO is projected through the end of the month.

 
The anomaly temperatures at 850 MB /5kt/ displayed here in C /Celsius/ for the middle of next week are forecast to be around -15C below the norm.






The map below displays similar Analogue dates & years for the upcoming cold snap at this time of year along with the height departures for above (red) and below (blue) departures. Note late March - early April 1982 one of our season(s) analogues shows up again and is also among them for this time period /19820405, displayed on the lower right/


Try to hang in there because, as evidence by just the past few Marches and springs, this time of year the weather is extremely fickle and changeable. On average, the more typical gradually warming spring weather has been delayed about a  solid month (when looking at the three month meteorological spring /Mar-May/ and not the calendar). And; with the turn of the calendar month comes the promise of warmer weather.

Making weather fun while we all learn,
Bill Deedler -SEMI_WeatherHistorian

3/10/14

3/11/14 - Update Another Snowstorm to Push Detroit and Flint Closer to Records for the Snowiest Winter

 Snowfall amounts from the Snowstorm of 3/12/14 - NWS DTX


Seasonal Snowfall Stats as of 3/12

Location Seasonal Normal Winter 2013-14 (through March 12th)
Record (Year) Current Seasonal Ranking
Detroit Area 42.5" 90.7" 93.6" (1880-81) 2nd
Flint Area 47.4" 81.8" 82.9" (1974-75) 3rd
Saginaw 45.5" 58.3" 87.2" (1966-67) 15th



Local Storm Reports



Back to top
Winds
Back to top
Photos  (Click on thumbnail for bigger image)


 
   
Algonac, MI (courtesy of Carol Doll) Royal Oak, MI (courtesy of Dan Thompson) Detroit, MI (courtesy of Ryan Jake Jakubowski)
White Lake, MI (courtesy of Rick Baker) Dearborn, MI (courtesy of Taylor Lafontaine)
     

__________________________________________________________________________________________
-Update 3/11/14 -330 pm- No Change in original forecast
__________________________________________________________________________________________ 
It's not a certainly by any means -yet- for snowiest winter on record at Detroit but another storm center bringing more snow to the region should bring it closer to reality. The storm is slated to deepen in the mid Ohio Valley region Tuesday night into Wednesday. The storm will bring several inches of new snow to southern Michigan, the northern half of Indiana and Ohio before moving east and intensifying further as she approaches the East Coast.

At this time; the majority of the meteorological guidance is pushing for a general 6" - 10" for snow totals across the now familiar "snow bombarded" southeast portion of Michigan. I feel that is a bit high at this time for the region considering the placement and strength of the system while affecting us, along with relatively quick movement and milder temperatures, pre-storm. Never-the-less, I look for a general 4"- 8" snowfall for the area from Ann Arbor, east northeast across metro Detroit to the St Clair River and points south to the Ohio border. Within this area over the extreme southeast corner; some locally higher amounts are possible. Further north and northwest into Michigan across Flint, Saginaw and the Thumb Region; expect 2" - 5" with some 6" isolated totals possible.

A stiff north to northeast wind of 15 to 25 mph with guts near 35 mph will accompany the storm creating some blowing and drifting as a large cold high pressure feeds the low pressure from the north.




Also, in case you are keeping track; officially Detroit has had 84.1" of snow this snow season and the record for snowiest season is 93.6" set way back in my analogue winter of 1880-81. Normal snowfall at Detroit for a snow season is 42.7". Flint has received 77.3" and thus, that region too is inching up to its record for snowiest winter of 82.9" set back in more familiar times to many, in 1974-75. Normal snowfall for the Flint area is 47.4" Thus far, Saginaw has been left in the snow flurries, so to speak, where near record snowfall is concerned with "just" 55.3" but still well above the normal of 41.5" Saginaw's snowiest winter occurred in 1966-67 with 87.2".

Seasonal Snowfall Stats

Location Seasonal Normal Winter 2013-14 (through March 10th) Record (Year) Current Seasonal Ranking
Detroit Area 42.5" 84.1" 93.6" (1880-81) 2nd
Flint Area 47.4" 77.3" 82.9" (1974-75) 4th
Saginaw 45.5" 55.3" 87.2" (1966-67) Tied-21st

Making weather fun while we all learn,
Bill Deedler -SEMI_WeatherHistorian


3/2/14

Spring 2014 Outlook For Southeast Lower Michigan

After one very cold and snowy winter that really has yet to complete its run; it might sound a bit premature to talk about spring. However, officially by meteorological calendar standards /Mar - May/ we have now entered spring. And yes, as you pretty well expect, the next several days in the first week of March are going to feel like the last several with no really discernible difference. But what does the spring season on the whole look like as far as temperatures and precipitation when researching past analogue seasons that portrayed our cold winter the best. And, what about model projections for the spring season, do they agree or disagree with the analogues?

Temperatures:

Look for temperatures to average below normal to normal with three month departure below the normal spring temperature. See reasoning below...

Precipitation:
Look for precipitation to average normal to below with the three month departure below the normal spring precipitation. See reasoning below...


ENSO

Little overall change is expected on the larger hemispheric scale as far as ENSO this spring as neutral conditions continue in the Pacific. As one can see by computer Pacific SST projections; little if any influence is expected from that region for the world.




Spring 2014 Analogues

The spring analogues were chosen as a subset of the winter analogues that performed the best in relation to temperature and lesser extent, snowfall. The original raw set of Winter 2013-14 analogue winters projected a colder than average winter with variable amounts of snowfall possible. From there, I narrowed it down by mid January to the coldest of winters with near normal to above in snowfall. these six winters were used in our spring outlook. The normals, averages for the six winters and departures are displayed on the bottom of the chart. The best performing analogues, 1981-82 and 1880-81 are displayed on the top of the chart. Remember; these analogues reflect what happened locally in Southeast Lower Michigan (using metro Detroit's data for the spring) in the past under similar hemispheric conditions. It's mainly their general temperatures/precipitation and trend that is most important and to a lesser extent, their numerical departures.




Immediately one can note these springs were not the nicest as far as temperatures (see color legend).  Four out of the six springs went on to be colder or below normal as far as temperatures. The other two, averaged in the normal camp with no above normal springs seen (far right column, under spring average). The real drain on the spring temperatures were the colder than normal Marches and Aprils. Early in the spring anyway, showed the best chance of averaging below normal with three Marches below normal and three near normal. Narrowing this down further, when using our two best analogues for the winter, Winter of 1981-82 and Winter of 1880-81 both following Marches were colder or below normal. Moving on to April, three Aprils averaged below normal and two ranked near normal and one in fact, averaged above normal /4/1899 - 50.5/ +1.2/. However, when averaging the six Aprils in the analogue set, the average came in at 2.6 below the normal of 49.3 degree and almost identical to the March departure of 2.5 below it's normal of 37.2. In addition, again using our two best winter analogues, 1981-82 and 1880-81, both Aprils averaged decidedly below normal. Ironically; both March and April of 1982 and 1881 averaged similar temperatures with above average snowfall in Detroit. It will be interesting to see if this plays out a third time or the present cold and snowy pattern is cut off quicker than in those two analogue years. The most striking change that was seen in the analogues was the warmer or above normal Mays. Out of the six Mays, three averaged above normal, two averaged near normal and just one below normal. Was the polar cold was finally exhausted and the dominant upper wind pattern modified and changed? It appears that way. This is at least, encouraging for warmer than normal times ahead in mid to late spring, anyway.

Therefore; while the majority of springs started out with below normal temperatures, a subtle trend back to normal and even above normal could be summarized as the springs unfolded. This would seem to have logical support when one considers the gradual melting of the snow along with the extensive ice cover on the Great Lakes. This surface moderation along with a gradual relaxation of the predominant northwest upper jet stream looks subtle to the analogue results. Or, in other words, the previous cold analogue winter guidance and resultant extensive ice cover of the Great Lakes and bountiful snow cover (as seen in our two best analogues); encouraged a longer lag of below normal temperatures in the spring season than usually seen.

Spring Precipitation

Overall, spring precipitation averaged around normal to below in the analogue years. On average, normal to above normal precipitation early in the season gave way to normal to below normal later in the season. Five out of the six springs contained a notable dry period with the best chance being in April or May.  Early in the season was feast or famine for snowfall with half of the sample containing above normal snowfall and half below; the aforementioned analogue years 1982, 1881 along with 1899 contained well above. It should be noted freezing precipitation also was noted these years.

Severe Weather Seasons (into the summer)

Looking over the severe weather stats for the analogue years since 1980 (locally) and 1961 (tornado stats map from SPC), The analogue years averaged normal to below normal for severe weather. Perhaps this is not surprising since many of the  analogues averaged colder than normal and when it did warm up, precipitation amounts dropped off comparable to normal. Of course; there were a few busier years but more occurred in the summer, which is typical anyway.

Severe Weather Stats for Analogues from 1980 to 2006; note the average amount on the bottom was 45 days.

Annual Totals
Year
Hail
Wind
Tornado
Total
Rpt
Days
Rpt
Days
Rpt
Days
Rpt
Days
1980
58
17
186
32
29
16
116
37
1981
13
7
54
21
5
3
23
22
1982
45
15
117
19
17
9
79
28
1983
86
15
283
30
22
12
130
34
1984
31
12
79
29
20
12
71
39
1985
103
16
158
22
13
9
129
31
1986
72
21
165
36
34
19
140
46
1987
30
16
196
31
16
13
62
38
1988
75
22
198
35
19
10
113
40
1989
32
17
128
30
19
13
70
38
1990
33
16
141
21
23
12
79
27
1991
78
24
320
39
29
10
136
46
1992
66
24
262
32
52
16
170
42
1993
61
22
168
29
8
7
77
37
1994
159
30
239
37
12
8
183
48
1995
76
27
272
41
8
5
92
48
1996
120
35
244
41
14
8
148
56
1997
118
30
330
39
21
5
160
45
1998
270
36
595
39
28
16
326
52
1999
165
28
385
40
15
9
195
45
2000
292
30
381
46
16
9
324
53
2001
198
39
356
53
41
11
280
66
2002
145
39
394
53
22
6
189
62
2003
359
42
559
47
17
12
393
55
2004
326
45
489
45
22
10
370
60
2005
164
32
523
38
3
3
170
48
2006
424
50
404
49
12
9
448
70
AVG
133
26
282
36
20
10
436
45
 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Tornado occurrences/ranks in all analogue years since 1961


 
 


Computer Model Temperature Outlook for Spring in Southeast Lower Michigan

Looking at the computer model /CFSv2/ temperature outlooks for first the entire spring season and then, by monthly projections shows very strong support for the analogues. As one can see, below normal temperatures (blue shading) are suggested for the entire Great Lakes region for the spring as a whole. Interesting how this latest computer projection nearly duplicates local findings, right down to the month.


Monthly Breakdown of Temperatures




During the next few months; I'll have more posts on the Historic Winter of 2013-14.

Making weather fun while we all learn,
Bill Deedler -SEMI_WeatherHistorian