August 24, 2015
Summer of 2015 has definitely featured some wild weather. Photographer Joe Gee captured this dramatic photo last Monday at Muskegon State Park. mLive featured Joe’s waterspout photo along with an explanation of the phenomenon by meteorologist Mark Torregrossa:
This is the waterspout season on the Great Lakes, but tonight’s waterspout did not occur in the classic waterspout weather pattern.
Waterspouts form mostly due to a large temperature difference between the water surface and the air a few thousand feet above. So the classic waterspout weather pattern would have a large, cold upper level storm system moving over the Great Lakes. That storm system is still well to our west, and won’t pass through until Wednesday.
This waterspout still most likely formed due to a temperature difference between the water and the air. The cold air aloft wasn’t really detectable because it was so isolated.
The other weather feature probably contributing to the development of this waterspout was a lake breeze or even possibly an “outflow boundary” from another storm. The lake breeze blows a different wind direction into the storm and can cause additional rotation. An outflow boundary coming off another thunderstorm can do the same thing.
So this waterspout is a less threatening rotation as compared to a tornado. Usually these waterspouts dissipate before they come onshore.
This time of year is the typical time for waterspouts because of two weather features. First, the Great Lakes water temperatures are usually warmest right now. Secondly, we have to mention the word fall. Cooler, fall-like air starts to move in at this time of year. The temperature difference is largest now through September.
More wild weather on Michigan in Pictures!
March 21, 2015
Lighthouse Friends’ page on the Muskegon South Pier Light begins:
The name ‘Muskegon’ comes from the Ottawa Indian term ‘Masquigon,’ meaning “marshy river or swamp,” and refers to the Muskegon River that expands into Muskegon Lake before emptying into Lake Michigan. Settlement on the shores of Lake Muskegon began in 1837 with the establishment of Muskegon Township. Nicknamed the ‘Lumber Queen of the World,’ Muskegon was home to more millionaires than any other town in America during the late 1800s, when its lumber helped rebuild Chicago after the great fire of 1871.
In August 1838, Lieutenant James T. Homans visited the river and included the following in a report to the Secretary of the Treasury:
Muskegon river, on lake Michigan, came next under my observation, it is a large stream, opening, within half a mile of its outlet, into a considerable lake, eight miles long by four wide. The channel in, is wide and easy of access, and not less than twelve feet of water in it; making this harbor, in my estimation, the best on lake Michigan, all things considered. Its value as a safe haven, and the rich lumber trade in which it will soon be engaged, (three extensive steam saw-mills having been erected there,) entitle it to a light-house near the entrance. I selected a point, on the south side of the river’s mouth, as the best location, in the event of an appropriation being made for a light there.
On March 3, 1849, Congress set aside $3,500 for a lighthouse at the site selected by Homans, and in 1851 a one-and-a-half-story, rubblestone dwelling, surmounted by a wooden tower, was built. The dwelling measured thirty-six by eighteen feet, and the top of the tower stood twenty-six feet above the ground. Six lamps with fourteen-inch reflectors were originally used in the lantern room, but a sixth-order Fresnel lens replaced these in 1856. Alexander Wilson was hired as the light’s first keeper at an annual salary of $450.
Read on for lots more including photos.
December 18, 2013
The Owl Pages entry for the Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus) says in part:
The Snowy Owl is a large diurnal white Owl with a rounded head, yellow eyes and black bill. The name “scandiacus” is a Latinised word referring to Scandinavia, as the Owl was first observed in the northern parts of Europe. Some other names for the Snowy Owl are Snow Owl, Arctic Owl, Great White Owl, Ghost Owl, Ermine Owl, Tundra Ghost, Ookpik, Scandinavian Nightbird, White Terror of the North, and Highland Tundra Owl.
…Most hunting is done in the “sit and wait” style. These Owls are highly diurnal, although they may hunt at night as well. Prey are captured on the ground, in the air, or snatched off the surface of water bodies. When taking snowshoe hares, a Snowy Owl will sink its talons into the back and backflap until the hare is exhausted. The Owl will then break its neck with its beak. Snowy Owls have been known to raid traplines for trapped animals and bait, and will learn to follow traplines regularly. They also snatch fish with their talons. Small prey up to small hares are swallowed whole, while larger prey are carried away and torn into large chunks. Small young are fed boneless and furless pieces. Large prey are carried of in the Owl’s talons, with prey like lemmings being carried in the beak.
…Snowy Owls produce large, rough-looking cylindrical pellets with numerous bones, feathers, and fur showing. They are usually expelled at traditional roosting sites and large numbers of pellets can be found in one spot. When large prey are eaten in small pieces with little roughage, pellets will not be produced.
Read on for much more about these winter visitors, who the DNR explain migrate to Michigan in wintertime and have been sighted as far south as Lansing. They add that because snowy owls see few if any humans in their Arctic home, they are not very timid and easier to observe than other owl species.
More Michigan owls on Michigan in Pictures!
November 23, 2013
Many in Michigan are waking up to frigid temps, high wind and snow – the perfect conditions for lake effect snow. Meteorologist Robert J. Ruhf has an excellent article on Lake-Effect Precipitation in Michigan that explains lake effect snow and rain are common in Michigan, especially in late fall and early winter as cold polar air moves across the warmer Great Lakes.
The unfrozen waters are relatively warm when compared with the temperature of the wintertime air mass. Therefore, the temperature of the air that comes into contact with the water increases. The warmed air expands and become less dense, which causes it to rise. This is an “unstable” situation. As the air rises, the temperature decreases until it reaches the dew point, which is the temperature at which the air becomes saturated.. Ice crystals or water droplets will then begin to collect until the force of gravity pulls them down. The result is “lake-effect” precipitation. When the cP air mass is very cold, as is often the case between December and February, the precipitation falls as snow. During late autumn, however, the polar air mass may be warm enough for the precipitation to fall in the form of rain.
“Lake-effect” precipitation can cause substantial intensification of snowfall amounts in very narrow bands, often referred to as “snow belts,” along the leeward (downwind) shores of the Great Lakes. The prevailing wind direction in the Great Lakes region is westerly; therefore, most “lake-effect” precipitation events occur to the east of the lakes.
…An interesting feature of “lake-effect” is that the heaviest bands of snow do not usually occur along the immediate shoreline, but tend to fall several miles inland. Snowfall accumulations are enhanced inland because the air experiences more uplift when it is forced over hills and higher terrain.
Read on to learn lots more about lake effect snow in Michigan including four narrow bands – Keweenaw Peninsula, Leelanau Peninsula, the Thumb and the southwest Lower Peninsula – where geographic features and the shape of the shoreline contribute to more intense snowfall. Hang on to your hats – winter is here!
Need a winter background?
April 8, 2013
As the air heats up we will get these warm and wave-tossing winds in the Great Lakes. The Chicago Tribune explains why spring brings us stronger lake breezes, the coastal wind that blows from the lake to land:
It’s powered by differences in density between warm (less dense) air over land and cool (more dense) air over Lake Michigan. Because temperature greatly affects air density, a lake breeze is most likely to form (and it will blow most strongly) when large temperature differences exist between the “land air” and “lake air.” Those temperature differences are greatest in April and May when the lake air is chilly because Lake Michigan waters still retain much of winter’s cold and the land air is warming strongly in response to the strengthening spring sun.
October 5, 2012
Fall color is really kicking in around the state. It’s looking like this weekend may be the optimal time for your color tour, as Michigan’s summer drought might cause an earlier leaf drop.
The Freep has a nice aerial from the UP and reports that Upper Peninsula color is at 60-80%. If you head over to the Marquette Country Facebook, you can see a lot of photos from all across the UP. The West Michigan color report shows 40-50% coverage and they have photos from across the region on their West Michigan Weekly blog. Of course you can also search for “autumn” in the Absolute Michigan pool on Flickr to see the latest as well!
If you’re looking for some ideas on where to go, Pure Michigan fall color tours for everywhere in the state and other ideas for fall travel. This photo was taken near Muskegon, and while Pure Michigan doesn’t have a tour there among their 20+ tours, the West Michigan Tourist Association has a whole bunch of color tours including one that goes along the lakeshore near Muskegon.
September 13, 2012
Wikipedia’s Muskegon entry explains that:
“Muskegon” is derived from the Ottawa Indian term “Masquigon” meaning “marshy river or swamp”. The “Masquigon” river was identified on French maps dating from the late seventeenth century, suggesting that French explorers had reached Michigan’s western coast by that time.
Father Jacques Marquette traveled northward through the area on his fateful trip to St. Ignace in 1675 and a party of French soldiers under La Salle’s lieutenant, Henry de Tonty, passed through the area in 1679.
The earliest known Euro-American resident of the county was Edward Fitzgerald, a fur trader and trapper who first came to the Muskegon area in 1748 and who died here, reportedly being buried in the vicinity of White Lake. Sometime between 1790 and 1800, a French-Canadian trader named Joseph La Framboise established a fur trading post at the mouth of Duck Lake. Between 1810 and 1820, several French Canadian fur traders, including Lamar Andie, Jean Baptiste Recollect, and Pierre Constant had established fur trading posts around Muskegon Lake. In 1830 Muskegon was an Ottawa village.
Euro-American settlement of Muskegon began in earnest in 1837, which coincided with the beginning of the exploitation of the area’s extensive timber resources. The commencement of the lumber industry in 1837 inaugurated what some regard as the most romantic era in the history of the region.
Read on at Wikipedia.
In photography and optics, a neutral density filter or ND filter is a filter that reduces and/or modifies intensity of all wavelengths or colors of light equally, giving no changes in hue of color rendition. It can be a colorless (clear) or grey filter. The purpose of a standard photographic neutral density filter is to allow the photographer greater flexibility to change the aperture, exposure time and/or motion blur of subject in different situations and atmospheric conditions.