This Winter Continues to Be Like Last Winter

Bill’s Blog

Posted: Jan 7, 2020 / 01:58 AM EST Updated: Jan 7, 2020 / 04:06 AM EST

We’ve had 18 days in a row with above average temperatures. Today will be the 19th. During these 18 days, the temperature has been 11° warmer than average and we’ve had only one day when we’ve had an inch or more of snow. Check out how similar this is compared to last year:

Weather from Dec. 20, 2018 to Jan. 6, 2019

One year ago, the same time period had 17 of 18 days warmer than average. The 18th day was exactly average. These 18 days were nearly 8° warmer than average and during that time, we didn’t have a day with an inch of snowfall.

I’ve already written about the similarities of Sept. 2018 and Sept. 2019 (3.3° and 3.5° warmer than average with above average rainfall), Oct. 2018 and Oct. 2019 (0.7° and 0.8° cooler than average with above average rainfall), Nov. 2018 and 2019 (both 5.5° cooler than average with above average) and Dec. 2018 and Dec. 2018 (3.3° and 4.0° warmer than average).

We’ve had 36% of possible sunshine over the last 18 days. The average % of sunshine is 20% for Dec. and 26% for January. Most of the time, the air has been too warm for lake-effect clouds.

Last year, January was quite mild until the 19th and the really cold air was here from Jan. 25 – Feb. 1. The polar vortex brought high temps. of +2 and +4 on Jan. 30 and 31. It would be hard to duplicate that, but colder air has been building in Alaska. It was -48° at Nuiqsut AK on Mon., -44° at McGrath and -38° at Fairbanks. The bitter cold had reached the south coast, where Anchorage had a high temp. of -7°. Valdez had a high of 15° and they have 37″ of snow on the ground. Check out the latest long range outlook:

8-14 Day Outlook from the Climate Prediction Center for Jan. 14-20

The latest 8-14 Day Outlook from the Climate Prediction Center for Jan. 14-20 shows some cold air come down into the Northern Plains and Pacific Northwest. The unseasonably warm air continues of the southeast third of the contiguous U.S. The question is…will this cold air build southeast into our area. There may be some temperature records in the East this weekend.

8-14 Day Precipitation Outlook from the Climate Prediction Center

The latest 8-14 Day Precipitation Outlook from the Climate Prediction Center has most of the country “in the green”. So, the overall wet pattern that we’ve been in for a couple years is continuing. The “Battle Zone” will be along the edge of the warm air from Lower Mississippi Valley into the Ohio Valley and Southern Lakes.

Check out the latest from Dr. Judah Cohen – who follows the Polar Vortex and notes that some models are forecast the P.V. to briefly move south into northern Canada around the 19th. We’ll continue to track it…that’s still 12 days away.

Also, from meteorologist Mark Vogan across the Atlantic: “…why so mild? Blame the strongest/coldest stratospheric polar vortex of the last 40 years! According to @severeweatherEU a radiosonde over Reykjavik, Iceland on Jan 3rd measured a temp of -96C or -141F within the vortex

Lakeshore Flood Advisory

In the meantime…we have yet another Lakeshore Flood Advisory. This one runs from 7 pm this evening to 7 am Wednesday am. We’ll also get Warnings for 6-10 foot waves and still west-northwest winds. The G.R. NWS says:

"HAVE UPGRADED THE GALE WATCH TO A GALE WARNING, ALTHOUGH SOMEWHAT MARGINAL AND THE NORTHWEST GALES MAY ONLY LAST FOR A FEW HOURS WITH THE PASSAGE OF THE ARCTIC FRONT. WAVES WILL APPROACH 10 FT TONIGHT INTO EARLY WEDNESDAY WITH THE HIGHEST WAVES EXPECTED TO BE SOUTH OF WHITEHALL. THIS WILL UNDOUBTEDLY LEAD TO ADDITIONAL LAKESHORE FLOODING AND BEACH EROSION, HENCE THE LAKESHORE FLOOD ADVISORY WHICH STARTS AT 7 PM TONIGHT. THE NEXT EVENT IS A SOUTHERLY FLOW SITUATION WHICH SETS UP ON THURSDAY AHEAD OF THE NEXT FRONT."

Here’s a link to the full GRR NWS forecast discussion.

Peak Wind Gusts Monday

Here’s peak wind gusts Monday…not as high as we have seen several times during the past couple months, but still pretty healthy gusts.

Wind Forecast

Winds ramp back up to 15 mph this PM and then to 18 mph overnight Tue. night. Wed. AM will still be breezy, then after a fairly calm Wed. night, the wind ramps back up on Thursday from the south-southeast before rain moves in late Thursday.

High Temperatures Monday

Here’s high temperatures Monday. The average high temperature is 31°. The water temp. of both Lake Michigan at Holland and Reeds Lake was 36°. Grand Rapids has reached 40° on 4 of the last 6 days and 13 of the last 18 days. I think the high temp. of 61° on 12/26 was the only daily record high temp. we had in 2019. We had two record lowest daily high temps. when the polar vortex paid a visit.

Snow in Northern Michigan

There was snow in the U.P. on Monday…Painesdale added an inch to their snowcover. Grand Marais (south) is up to 34″…Marquette added an inch to get to 25″. In Lower Michigan, there is snow north of U.S. 10. The most I saw was 14″ at Mancelona and 10″ at Gaylord. There’s more snow onthe way for N. Lower and Upper Michigan.

National Weather Service Graphic for N. Michigan
Narrow band of snow coming thru midday/afternoon.
Snowfall Comparison for Grand Rapids

Matt Kirkwood made this nifty graphic showing the average snowfall-to-date for Grand Rapids, along with the snow total-to-date for 2019 and 2020. We made up for lost time last year and climbed from 19.2″ on the 18th of January to 81.3″ by the time the measurable snow ended on April 15th.

Bittersweet Ski Area Monday Evening

Despite the fact that you don’t see a lot of snow on the ground, ski areas have plenty of snow and a good number of people took advantage of the relatively mild air to put on the skis or the board.

In other news…there was some showers, a little higher humidity and a little cooler temperatures in parts of Australia – which should aid fire fighters. The Australian reports: “Police arrested 183 people for lighting bushfires across Queensland, NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania in the past few months.”

There were several strong earthquakes in Puerto Rico, including 5.4 and 5.1 magnitude quakes on Monday and a magnitude 6.6 quake along the south coast of Puerto Rico at 3:24 am Tue. morning. Power is out over a good portion of the island.

New Delhi, India had the coldest December day since 1901. 6.2 magnitude e-quake off Indonesia. Strong winds and huge waves at Cyprus. Same story in Crete. Beautiful wave clouds. More SpaceX satellites going into space. Sunset at Curacao. Avalanche Warning. Stevens Pass in WA is closed. Shooting stars seen from space. A nice lenticular cloud.