December 23rd Detroit Tornado is Michigan’s First Ever

Detroit Tornado

Detroit Tornado, photo by Joe Gall

The National Weather Service reports on the first ever December tornado in Michigan:

A strong low pressure system tracking from the southern Plains into the Upper Great Lakes brought record December warmth to Southeast Michigan on Wednesday, December 23rd. Stronger winds associated with this system interacted with the unseasonably warm air to produce the first December tornado in Michigan history during the evening. This tornado occurred in Wayne County, just north-northeast of Canton. The tornado was rated EF-1 with peak winds of 90 mph. The tornado touched down at 643 pm EST, tracking 2 miles before lifting at 646 pm EST.

This brief tornado developed along a fast moving line of showers that shifted across Southeast Michigan during the evening (5 to 8 pm). A Significant Weather Statement (SPS) was issued at 620 pm, highlighting the potential for wind gusts up to 50 mph. The brief duration and weak intensity of this tornado made the issuance of a tornado warning nearly impossible, typical of brief spin-ups that are embedded along a fast moving line. In many cases, such as this one, the tornado touchdown occurs largely between radar scans, leaving little opportunity for advanced warning.

This is the first December tornado in Michigan history and only the third during the winter season. The other two tornadoes occurred on Jan 18, 1996 in Kalamazoo County and Feb 28, 1974 in Wayne County.

You can get a report on the tornado with images of the very minor damage from WDIV TV-4/Click on Detroit.

Joe photoshopped this picture back in 2011, so please don’t tell me it’s not real because I know that. View it on Flickr and see more in his Movement 2011 slideshow.

More weather fun on Michigan in Pictures.

Christmas Full Moon and the Metonic Cycle

Moon December 18 2015

Moon December 18 2015, photo by Dave in Michigan

EarthSky notes that the December full moon will be the first on Christmas since 1977:

This month, the December full moon falls on Friday, December 25, 2015. For Earth’s Western Hemisphere, it’s the first full moon on Christmas Day since 1977.We won’t have another full moon on a Christmas Day until 2034.

A 19-year cycle of the moon is the reason. Amazingly, the moon’s phases recur on (or near) the same calendar dates every 19 years. This cycle – known as the Metonic cycle – happens because 235 returns to full moon almost exactly equal 19 years. So, in other words, the phases of the moon realign (or nearly realign) with the same calendar dates every 19 years. We just missed a full moon on Christmas 19 years ago; instead, the full moon fell on Christmas Eve. It was December 24, 1996 at 20:41 Universal Time, or UT.

…In any year, the phases of the moon take place about 11 days earlier than in the previous year. For instance, the December 2016 full moon will happen on December 14, 2016, and the December 2017 full moon will fall on December 3, 2017.

View Dave’s photo big as the moon and see more in his moon & moon shots slideshow.

More about December’s full moon in Christmas Moon, Snow Moon, Cold Moon, Oak Moon, December Moon on Michigan in Pictures!

Summer in December?

Summer in December

Untitled, photo by Alissa Hankinson

While average highs this time of year in West Michigan are in the mid 30s, WZZM-13 reports that record high temperatures were set in many West Michigan locations yesterday:

Grand Rapids has broken the record high temperature of 57°, with a reported observation of 61°. The previous record stood for almost a century, since 1920.

Kalamazoo, Lansing and Muskegon have also surpassed previous records, each reaching 63°. Kalamazoo’s previous record sat at 59° since 1991, Lansing’s at 56° since 1975 and Muskegon’s record of 59° was in place since 1960.

The Freep adds that records were set of 61 in Detroit (topping 60 from all the way back in 1881) and 64! in Flint crushing the old high of 55 from 1991!! A look at Michigan’s current weather readings shows Flint at 61 and Ypsilanti and Benton Harbor at 60. In fact the only location in Michigan at the freezing mark is Copper Harbor!!

View Alissa’s photo bigger and see more in her Michigan’s West Lakeshore slideshow.

It’s a long night for December’s full moon


aDSC_0287, photo by Craig

The moon will be full at 7:27 am tomorrow, which basically means tonight. The Old Farmer’s Almanac has this to say about the December Full Moon, known also as the Cold Moon:

During this month the winter cold fastens its grip, and nights are at their longest and darkest. It is also sometimes called the Moon before Yule. The term Long Nights Moon is a doubly appropriate name because the midwinter night is indeed long, and because the Moon is above the horizon for a long time.

The midwinter full Moon has a high trajectory across the sky because it is opposite a low Sun.

Also, I found a moon phase calendar for December 2014 (and beyond) that’s a really cool way to visualize the month’s moon!!

View Craig’s photo from back in 2009 on the Grand Haven south pier background big and see more in his Pier slideshow.

There’s many moons in the Michigan in Pictures archives!