High Winds, Big Waves on Lake Michigan!

2/19/16 – This was an unusually warm, very windy, springlike day in Michigan. 60F and sunshine dominated most of the afternoon. The wind gusts were powerful, some of which were very high. Numerous high wind reports reaching into the 50-60mph range were received. One gust of 70mph was reported at Ford Airport in Grand Rapids. Overall, a very warm, and windy day. I planned for this day in advance. The models showed a potent storm system with a warm surge of air, and very strong winds. I wanted to go down to Lake Michigan to shoot the waves crashing over the pier and lighthouse, as well as see what the ice situation looked like down there. After a mild winter overall, most of the Lake Michigan shoreline was free of ice, except for the ice which had been piled up by waves on the beach. Still, there were many ice chunks floating around in the water which created some pretty amazing scenes. I stayed out there for a few hours … Read More…

Convective Snow Showers

2/12/16 – This was a day that really gave me the storm chasing itch, but the thing is, these weren’t thunderstorms. They were heavy snow showers. Steep lapse rates, coupled with other favorable upper level support, sunshine, and lake effect influence created the perfect setup for intense convective snow showers. Some of these looked like pop up thunderstorms almost, taking on anvil shapes, and bubbling updrafts. I started the day near Greenville, MI, snapping off a couple of shots in a field of the snow showers, then headed west toward Rockford, MI on M-57. I staged around M-57 and US 131. I began documenting some of the heavier snow showers as they raced through the area. Some of these created some whiteout conditions in a hurry, and slowed traffic down and caused some backups too on US 131. Below is a video of the snow in the Rockford area, and also photos from Greenville and Rockford. After that batch of snow showers, I drove over to Belding, MI to intercept … Read More…

Snowy Elkland Cemetery – Cass City, MI

2/10/16 – On my way home from the Bad Axe area after documenting the snowstorm, I was cruising west down M-81 (which was basically a sheet of ice and compacted snow) and saw a cemetery full of trees covered in snow. My mouth dropped open and I said to myself “Oh yeah, I gotta go back!!!”. So I turned around and headed back toward the cemetery and turned down one of the many access roads inside it and what I saw blew me away. After pulling in, I stopped to check Google Maps to see where I was. This was Elkland Cemetery in Cass City, MI. It was simply stunning! Every tree was full of fresh snow, and the sun was shining through some thin clouds. It was quite cold, and the wind made it feel even colder, but I stayed awhile, and snapped off a number of photos. It was such a gorgeous sight to behold. I honestly didn’t want to leave. The access roads had been plowed pretty … Read More…

Huge Wreck on US 131, Lake Effect Snow, Grand Haven Lighthouse Waves

12/18/15 – This was a day for lake effect snow. The models had been showing it, so I set out with my friend Cort Scholten to document the event. We expected it to be a good day for weather. We met up at a carpool lot and then took his car down to the Lake Michigan shoreline. The snow was struggling to get going strong, so we decided to head down to Grand Haven and enjoy some of the wave action along the lighthouse pier. Below is a video and a collection of images from our time at Grand Haven, MI. This is one of Michigan’s best lighthouses, so photogenic! A must see if you’re visiting Michigan. We also found some cool frozen sand formations along the beach called “Hoodoos”. They’re pretty cool! The waves were pretty turbulent also. After that, we drove down to Holland, where the lake effect snow was beginning to get it’s act together. Some heavier snow showers began to move off of the big lake. … Read More…

Strong Grungy Storms 9/3/15

9/3/15 – This was an interesting day. Elevated storms came through in the early morning associated with a wave of low pressure. The amount of debris clouds leftover from the morning convection limited the severe potential for later in the afternoon. SPC had a general thunderstorm risk across the region. A few storms did go severe warned though, and a few others reached strong criteria. I got into some of the grungy stronger storms which offered up some interesting structure. The clouds were not of supercellular nature, but they exhibited a lot of similar features given the ample moisture, some CAPE, and shear to sustain them. I meandered around Stanton, MI mostly, and stayed in Montcalm County to document what I could of the storms. They weren’t extremely impressive, so I didn’t want to travel very far. Below is a video of the storms, and also a collection of photos, some of which look quite ominous. One of the images is a wedge tornado lookalike. No confirmation of any damage, … Read More…

Double Trouble: Severe Storms in West Michigan

8/14/15: West Michigan – The computer models had been showing a chance of severe storms for a few days. The SPC put out a Marginal Risk over lower Michigan and Wisconsin. This would be a backyard chase for me right here in west Michigan. Early morning clouds cleared out, which gave way to plenty of sunshine, which contributed to daytime heating and instability which would set the stage for strong/severe storms in the afternoon. A cumulus field appeared and eventually developed into a cluster of multi-cell storms containing hail, some of it large, strong wind gusts, lightning and heavy rainfall. The first storm I intercepted was a hailstorm in the Greenville, MI area. This storm looked menacing as it moved in, and had lots of scud clouds along the leading edge of the gust front. Some of them looked suspicious, but I did not see rotation. There was some lightning with this, but not too much where I was. I let the storm overtake me, and I positioned north a … Read More…

Summer “Pop Up” Storms 8/10/15

8/10/15 – This was a warm and humid day, and there was some instability around. That usually leads to what’s commonly called “pop up” or “popcorn” convection. These types of pulse showers and storms can be isolated, scattered, or numerous, depending on the given conditions at the time. These were of the isolated variety. A few showers and storms had developed off to the north and northeast, and they produced outflow boundaries which touched off a few more storms as the afternoon and evening progressed. These were quite photogenic, and I ventured out on my bicycle to have a look around. I snapped lots of photos, but picked the best ones, or the most interesting ones for this article. I saw several cumulus and cumulonimbus towers, and was also treated to a beautiful sunset. In one of the sunset photo, you can see a cluster of sunspots on the lower right of the solar disk. I encountered a small Rabbit on the way to the fields, it wasn’t scared of … Read More…

Severe Storms 8/2/15

8/2/15 – This was a day I had been waiting for. Finally, a really good chance of storms in lower Michigan. The computer forecast models all showed convection overspreading the region all day long, and congealing into a big squall line, then sagging south. That is exactly what happened. The day started off quiet in southern lower Michigan, but off to the north, things were already rocking. Strong to severe storms were already pounding the region with intense wind gusts, heavy rain, large hail and lightning. This activity would be what I waited patiently for as it moved down in my direction. There wasn’t much planning that went into this chase. It was pretty much just pick a spot along the advancing squall line, and hope for the best. I watched the storms for hours, and then I finally took off to the west to intercept a stronger part of the MCS (Mesoscale Convective System). On the way, I was treated to some glimpses of a very nice shelf cloud … Read More…

Strong Thunderstorm – Rockford, MI 6/8/15

After missing out on storms all day, I took a chance on a small rain shower with associated outflow boundary in the evening. This was part of a failed attempt that a storm made, trying to cross Lake Michigan. We were under the influence of a “lake shadow” most of the day. This also meant that our atmosphere hand’t been worked over by any convection, and there was still some instability around. I was on my way westward to pick up a boat I found on Craigslist for fishing, and on my way there, this once small shower, turned into a full fledged thunderstorm. Though this storm never became severe, it was still a strong storm, packing strong wind gusts, small hail, heavy rainfall and lightning. The structure wasn’t half bad either! A nice treat for a day when I thought I wasn’t going to see anything. This storm quickly died after sunset. I chased it south a few miles into the Rockford, MI area. It was moving pretty fast, … Read More…

Low Topped Supercells 5/26/15

This was an interesting day. The dynamics were in place for storms to go into a supercellular mode if they developed, but the overall instability was mitigated a bit by cloudiness in the morning, followed by more cloudiness and approaching showers in the afternoon hours. Despite the limited instability, the atmosphere still put on a show with supercells. These supercells were low topped, and some of them didn’t even contain any lightning. I watched one small shower which developed to my south, and moved NNE toward my location. I tracked it up through Greenville, MI and all the way north to just south of Lakeview, MI. I abandoned it after I saw that it wasn’t going to get the job done. During the chase though, it did produce quite a few nice scenes. The initial wall cloud was flat on the bottom, but soon, it began bringing in some scud clouds, and an appendage appeared beneath the wall cloud. Many claim this was a funnel cloud, this was not the … Read More…