This is a classic radar image of lake effect. The winds are out of the northwest blowing across Lakes Superior and Michigan. I found a site that adds the Canadian radars in with the American radars as well.
I see the office has issued a Winter Storm Warning for Lake effect snow for what we in the office used to call the “Big 5”.
The Big 5 would refer to the 5 counties that are grouped together here with the winter storm warning; Charlevoix, Antrim, Otsego, Kalkaska, and Crawford. Looking at the snowfall map and the radar above that, you can see why. Here’s the flow diagram from the office webpage that shows the threat areas with highest probability in purple. While most of the region can get NW flow snow bands, we know from seeing it many times, that the heaviest snow is in the Big 5 region.
Earlier, this week, I said to keep an on this a storm, turns out that it wasn’t the other night’s system that needed to be kept an eye on. Instead, there’s this one. This is really a two for one storm. First we got a weak system with moisture to move into the region, and has given us rain. Now the second shot, a Gulf of Mexico low will move up into the Lower Great Lakes (Lake Erie) by tonight.
This system will pull some of the coldest air down out of Canada that we have seen since last year. The thing about this system is that once this low is through, the temperatures at 850 mb (~5000 ft) remain between -15°C and -20°C through into next weekend. What does that mean? Lake effect will go full force. Not sure yet, but if the winds can stay in one direction long enough with some extra moisture, besides the lake, then somebody in northern Michigan will get a pretty decent snow fall. However, first things first. This one will have a lot of wind blowing the 5-8″ of snow that we will get between this evening and Sunday evening.
Keep an eye on the office page here: www.weather.gov/apx
or the Twitter feed: twitter.com/nwsgaylord
or Facebook: facebook.com/nwsgaylord
Watch this one as we get close to the end of the week.
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El Niño is continuing in North America, and with it, we, here in northern Michigan continue to get rain for the most part. I remarked at the office that this reminded me of the Christmas of 1982, when it got to 62°F in Fennville, and 65° in Grand Rapids.
One of the things that we have going is that the “gales of November,” haven’t really given up with the warmer weather. They have continued in December, as the cold air fights to try and get into the region. Tonight, Lakes Michigan and Superior, both have storm warnings and watches with a high wind warning along the Lake Michigan shore. There are wind advisories inland from the lakes and downstate as the low stays a little west for the winds to really ramp up there. Farther south, there are Tornado watches as the cold front pushes into the Mid-Mississippi Valley and lower Ohio Valley. This isn’t that unusual for Kentucky, where I worked before Gaylord, MI, but a tornado watch this far north in Illinois and Iowa in December is a rarity.
So watch the weather carefully as it looks active through at least Christmas Eve.
A short post to show the lake effect snow is still going. The left had picture is from the MRMS website out of OU (it includes the Canadian Radars!), and the right is the current Weather Story graphic out of the office. Current forecast for your area is here:
NWS Grand Rapids
So we finally got some lake effect snow. We kind of did back in October/November, but this is the first decent bit we have gotten this year. By the orientation of the snow bands, we have West-SouthWest flow over the lakes. The best area for this north of Gaylord, but we get our share too. See this video from this morning…
To refresh your memory, this map will show you where the best snow for WSW flow is…