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!
August 22, 2015
Earlier this week I posted about The Crooked Tree. While August isn’t yet shipwreck season in Michigan, the post reminded me of the 1915 novel by William MacHarg & Edwin Balmer set in the same region called The Indian Drum. The whole book is available online at Project Gutenberg (hooray for free books!). It begins:
Near the northern end of Lake Michigan, where the bluff-bowed ore-carriers and the big, low-lying, wheat-laden steel freighters from Lake Superior push out from the Straits of Mackinac and dispute the right of way, in the island divided channel, with the white-and-gold, electric lighted, wireless equipped passenger steamers bound for Detroit and Buffalo, there is a copse of pine and hemlock back from the shingly beach. From this copse—dark, blue, primeval, silent at most times as when the Great Manitou ruled his inland waters—there comes at time of storm a sound like the booming of an old Indian drum. This drum beat, so the tradition says, whenever the lake took a life; and, as a sign perhaps that it is still the Manitou who rules the waters in spite of all the commerce of the cities, the drum still beats its roll for every ship lost on the lake, one beat for every life.
So—men say—they heard and counted the beatings of the drum to thirty-five upon the hour when, as afterward they learned, the great steel steamer Wenota sank with twenty-four of its crew and eleven passengers; so—men say—they heard the requiem of the five who went down with the schooner Grant; and of the seventeen lost with the Susan Hart; and so of a score of ships more. Once only, it is told, has the drum counted wrong.
At the height of the great storm of December, 1895, the drum beat the roll of a sinking ship. One, two, three—the hearers counted the drum beats, time and again, in their intermitted booming, to twenty-four. They waited, therefore, for report of a ship lost with twenty-four lives; no such news came. The new steel freighter Miwaka, on her maiden trip during the storm with twenty-five—not twenty-four—aboard never made her port; no news was ever heard from her; no wreckage ever was found. On this account, throughout the families whose fathers, brothers, and sons were the officers and crew of the Miwaka, there stirred for a time a desperate belief that one of the men on the Miwaka was saved; that somewhere, somehow, he was alive and might return. The day of the destruction of the Miwaka was fixed as December fifth by the time at which she passed the government lookout at the Straits; the hour was fixed as five o’clock in the morning only by the sounding of the drum.
The region, filled with Indian legend and with memories of wrecks, encourages such beliefs as this. To northward and to westward a half dozen warning lights—Ile-aux-Galets (“Skilligalee” the lake men call it), Waugaushance, Beaver, and Fox Islands—gleam spectrally where the bone-white shingle outcrops above the water, or blur ghostlike in the haze; on the dark knolls topping the glistening sand bluffs to northward, Chippewas and Ottawas, a century and a half ago, quarreled over the prisoners after the massacre at Fort Mackinac; to southward, where other hills frown down upon Little Traverse Bay, the black-robed priests in their chapel chant the same masses their predecessors chanted to the Indians of that time. So, whatever may be the origin of that drum, its meaning is not questioned by the forlorn descendants of those Indians, who now make beadwork and sweet-grass baskets for their summer trade, or by the more credulous of the white fishermen and farmers; men whose word on any other subject would receive unquestioning credence will tell you they have heard the drum.
Read on at Project Gutenberg.
More Michigan shipwreck lore on Michigan in Pictures.
August 4, 2015
One more day of storm reporting from my neck of the woods…
In Glen Arbor Hit By Knockout Storm, Jacob Wheeler of the Glen Arbor Sun lays out a diary of the destruction of the storm and wrote:
In the storm’s wake yesterday, Glen Arbor residents immediately recognized that the destruction they witnessed was unprecedented for our town. This was worse than the 1987 storm, people said. In fact, it was far worse. The storm was more powerful and more destructive than any other Glen Arbor storm ever recorded. And now we have stats to prove it.
I spoke late this afternoon to Jeff Lutz, meteorologist with the National Weather Service (NWS) in Gaylord. While Lutz clarified that yesterday’s storm was not a tornado (you can blame some of the hyperbole on this newspaper) he did confirm that the straight-line winds which accompanied the sudden thunderstorm reached speeds of 100 miles per hour. That’s strong enough to be called a tornado. More significantly, it blows away the previous wind velocity record for Leelanau County. According to the NWS, on Sept. 13, 2005, a barrage of wind traveling at 63 miles per hour hit Leland and Empire, but not Glen Arbor. But 63 is not 100. Not even close. Nope, yesterday’s storm was the strongest to ever hit Leelanau County, since records were kept starting in 1950.
You can click through to the Sun for more pics and storm coverage and get even more on their Facebook. Jacob also shared the National Weather Service’s Aug. 2 severe weather recap:
- Multiple rounds of severe weather impacted northern Michigan on August 2nd, 2015. The first severe thunderstorm warning was issued 10:34 am with an additional 27 warnings being issued before the last warning of the day expired at 8:00 pm.
- The largest hail reported was 4.25″, or the size of a softball, seven miles north of West Branch at 4:55 pm. The large hail was reported by trained spotters and members of the public. There were several reports of damage to vehicles and other property. At the time of the event, a Severe Thunderstorm Warning was in effect for all of Ogemaw County, issued at 4:33 pm. Additional reports of 1.00″ to 2.00″ hail were received from law enforcement, emergency managers, trained spotters and the public across multiple locations in northern Michigan.
- The 4.25″ hail observed seven miles north of West Branch was the largest documented hail stone ever to impact northern Michigan since records began in 1950 and the largest since 1998 when a 3.50″ hail stone was recorded in Arenac County.
- Hundreds of downed trees and power lines were reported on Sunday as 60-80 mph (locally 90-100 mph) straight-line winds accompanied the severe thunderstorms.
Lots more at that link including some pics of that hail.
August 3, 2015
July 23, 2015
Soo Ice Jam of 1953, shared by John Rodawn
The Ludington Daily News from April 9, 1953 had an article titled Try to Clear Soo Lock Ice with Freighters’ Backwash that said:
SAULT STE. MARIE MICHIGAN – Three powerful lakes craft churned their propellers in a huge “Operations Backwash” today hopeful they could clear the Sault locks of an ice jam which has lied up nearly one-third of the Great Lakes fleet. The Coast Guard icebreaker Mackinaw was joined by the Pittsburgh Steamship Company freighter Arthur Anderson and the Canadian freighter Manladoc (not sure this is the right name) in the operation. Shipping men and lock engineers decided on the maneuver after an aerial survey showed the Whitefish Bay area, above the locks, was entirely free of the ice formation which has passed into the proper.
The three craft were tied up side by side at a dock and then went into action, with the propellers turning at full speed to churn up the water. Officials were hopeful the backwash would push the icy mess about 800 feet upstream, against the current, and get the ice in a position so it would be caught in a cross – current and washed over the Soo Rapids and out of the locks area. Coast Guard Commander T. A. Dahlburg of the Sault area expressed belief the ice would be cleared by this weekend, perhaps as early as Friday. Dahlburg reported 90 lake craft were tied up above the locks awaiting passage, while 64 were tied up below the locks upward bound. He called it the largest concentration of shipping ever assembled in the Sault area.
Under Dahlburg’s plan to keep some traffic operating, only the most powerful of the lake freighters and carriers were permitted to make their way downbound through the icy slush in the American locks. The only upbound traffic yesterday was through the Canadian lock, seven vessels passing through while 17 came down on the U.S. side.
July 17, 2015
mLive reports that today and this weekend are poised to bring very hot temperatures to Michigan:
The temperatures are building out west, and winds will turn to blow out of the south starting Friday to bring the heat our way.
Wednesday and Thursday will be comfortable, with temperatures in the 70s, but Friday will be much different, as the south wind should help boost temperatures to near 90 in the afternoon. Leftover clouds from morning storms will likely prevent breaking that mark, but the humidity should make it feel like 90 degrees.
Saturday should make it into the low 90s in all of the southern half of Lower Michigan. It might even make it to 90 degrees in parts of northern Lower Michigan. The humidity will also be higher, making it feel like mid-90s in southern Michigan.
Sunday will also be a hot, sticky day. Some spots will hit 90 degrees, while many spots will be humid and warm to 88 or 89 degrees. How hot we get Sunday will depend on how much sunshine we have and if storms hold off until Sunday evening.
If we have two 90-degree days in a row, it will be the first time in any Michigan city since July 19, 2013.
More summer wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures!