Thunderstorms Next Week?

Both the GFS and European models develop a strong low pressure system that comes into the Great Lakes next Tues./Weds.  This is the GFS model, with the center of the low coming close to G.R.  The European model takes the storm farther north up toward the eastern U.P.  Both models would give West Michigan significant rain and a chance of (maybe strong) thunderstorms.  Bill Marino’s long-range discussion from GRR NWS:

MORE SIGNIFICANTLY THERE IS THE THREAT FOR A POWERFUL STORM IN TUESDAY/WEDNESDAY TIME FRAME. THE MODELS AREA ALL OVER THE PLACE WITH THE TRACK OF THIS SYSTEM. THERE HAS BEEN A MORE CLEAR TREND ON THE ECMWF TO TAKE THE STORM FARTHER WEST. THE 7 PM RUN ON THE 30TH HAD THE CENTER OF THE LOW NEAR TOL OH AT 7 PM TUESDAY. THE MOST RECENT RUN OF THE ECMWF (31ST 7 AM) AT 7 PM TUE HAS THE 977 MB LOW CENTERED OVER DES MOINES, IOWA. THAT SORT OF TRACK ADJUSTMENT PUTS US DEEP INTO THE WARM AIR TUESDAY. I COULD SEE TEMPERATURES GETTING INTO THE 50S OF THIS TRACK WERE TO PLAY OUT. THIS WOULD THEN BE A SNOW TO FREEZING RAIN TO RAIN EVENT FOR US, WITH A FAIR AMOUNT OF WIND TOO. THEN THERE IS ARCTIC AIR THAT PLUNGES IN BEHIND THIS SYSTEM (WE CAN TRACK THAT LATER).  
 
A QUICK LOOK AT THE HEMISPHERIC SCALE, WE SEE A DEEP UPPER LOW /LONG WAVE TROUGH JUST OFF THE EAST COAST OF RUSSIA/CHINA WITH A RIDGE NEAR THE DATELINE AND A BROAD DOWN STREAM TROUGH OVER CANADA INTO THE CENTRAL UNITED STATES. A POWERFUL STORM COMES OFF SHORE FORM SIBERIA TODAY AND DEEPENS RAPIDLY TRACKING TOWARD KAMCHATKA BY FRIDAY. THIS IN TURN BUILDS A LARGE CLOSED UPPER HIGH OVER ALASKA WHICH THEN FORCES THE NORTHERN STREAM JET TO DIG SHARPLY SOUTH INTO WESTERN CANADA AND EVEN THE NW UNITED STATES BY SATURDAY.  
 
SO, THIS STORM ON TUE/WED COMES FROM THE MERGING OF THE NORTHERN AND SOUTHERN STREAM ENERGY OVER THE WESTERN UNITED STATES. SINCE THIS SYSTEM IS CURRENTLY IN LITTLE PIECES OVER THE WESTERN PACIFIC AT THIS POINT, WE WILL HAVE TO WATCH TO SEE HOW THIS ALL PLAYS OUT OVER THE NEXT FEW DAYS, BUT THUNDERSTORMS WOULD BE MORE THAN POSSIBLE WITH THIS SYSTEM IN SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN IF THE STORM DOES WHAT IT IS CURRENTLY FORECAST TO DO.”

It’s a long way off…climatologically, we don’t get many t-storms in early February, so don’t get too excited at this point…but “stay tuned” for later updates.  I put the more technical part of this discussion on the blog – not only for the true weather geeks, but to show the extent of detail that goes into making long-range forecasts.  When I started in TV – we did a 2-day forecast for the half-hour 6 pm and 11 pm newscasts from essentially two forecast models, upper air data and our own hand-plotted forecast maps.  Now, we do an 8-day forecast from what might be a dozen models for 2 hours of news in the early evening and 65 minutes of news  in the late evening with multiple “hits” in each newscast with a variety of graphics.

severe  Here’s a look at severe weather reports so far this year.  Red dots are tornadoes, green dots are severe-criteria hail and blue dots are wind damage reports..  BTW, I’ve said that I think we will have more tornadoes and severe weather in the U.S. this year than any year since 2011 and that this will be a bigger year for U.S. hurricanes (we’ve been in a bit of a major-hurricane drought in the U.S. since the Katrina year of 2005.  That’s not saying the storms will be here in West Michigan – can’t predict that – just that in general, conditions are a little more favorable for storms this year.  Remember the strongest tornadoes in Lower Michigan have been from early April thru early June…the big ones.

Happy February!

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