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…

Bad Axe, MI Lake Enhanced Snowstorm

2/9/16 – It has been a pretty mild winter here in Michigan so far, and because of that, and the overall upper atmospheric pattern, we have had a lack of snow, with no real big snowstorms yet, at least where I live. So when the GFS and GEM computer models were indicating the possibility of a lake enhanced snowstorm for the thumb region of Michigan, I was definitely intrigued. I continued to monitor the model runs, until about 3AM on February 9th, and that’s when I pulled the trigger to travel to the thumb region to document the impending snowstorm. Google Maps said it would be about a 3 hour drive, but the weather had other ideas. Between the bad road conditions which resulted in traffic reducing speeds to around 35-40mph, and me stopping to shoot footage along the way, it ended up being a 4-5 hour drive. Below is a video of snow in and around the Saginaw, MI area, and also a collection of photos from my drive. … Read More…

Battle Creek, MI Snowstorm 2/1/15

2/1/15 – A large and powerful snowstorm affected a large portion of the United States from the Midwest, through the Great Lakes and into the Northeast. Dumping 15-20 inches of snow in a number of areas, packing strong wind gusts, and snowfall at rates of up to 1-2 inches per hour. This was a long duration heavy snow event, which resulted in lots of blowing and drifting, high snowfall accumulations, near blizzard conditions at times, motorists becoming stuck or stranded, a number of accidents and slide offs, and many schools and businesses closing down due to the conditions. One computer model stood out from the rest several days before, showing a snowstorm set to impact northern areas of the US around Feb 1-2. That model, was the GFS. Over time, the model forecasts trended northward with the snow. Many people were skeptical. I was favoring the northward trend. Then suddenly just a couple of days before the storm, the GFS forecast showed it all south of the area. Within a … Read More…

Lake Effect Snow Whiteouts 1/9/15

1/9/15 – After documenting a powerful winter storm on 1/8/15, I stuck around the next day to document the absolutely crazy lake effect snow conditions that were ongoing. Ground blizzards and whiteouts were the common theme. Most of the time I couldn’t see more than about 50 yards while driving. In many cases, I couldn’t see past the hood! There wasn’t quite as much “natural disaster” type of stuff to get footage of as the day before, but it was still quite impressive. Travel was difficult for everyone, and the windy conditions made the already cold air feel even more brutal. I headed to the lake shore area in and around Muskegon. Visiting places like Pere Marquette Park and the Great Lakes Naval Memorial Museum. At times I couldn’t even see the structures just across the street from them! While on Beach Street Rd., I recorded some video of waves crashing against the lighthouse which was quite surreal to witness. If there had been less ice buildup, the videos would … Read More…

West Michigan Snowstorm 1/8/15

1/8/15 – This was a day that I had been anticipating for about a week. The computer models indicated that there would be a rather potent clipper system swinging through the area in the afternoon/evening. This system would gain lake enhancement, and also produce lake effect snow into the overnight period. Pretty much anywhere along the west Michigan shoreline was going to get smacked, especially the further north you were. I targeted Muskegon, MI for this system. With a new camcorder added to my lineup just a day before the event, I was prepared to head out and document this system to it’s fullest. I drive an F-250, and it has 4WD, so the snow depth and road conditions didn’t concern me much. I was more worried about somebody else being careless and hitting me. The National Weather Service had posted a Winter Storm Warning for the first 2 rows of counties inland of Lake Michigan. Road conditions were really good at the beginning from Greenville, to Cedar Springs, but … Read More…

Exploring A Winter Wonderland

1/4/15 – I had been tracking a strong storm system on the models for about a week, and the potential for rain, mixed precipitation, and also snow that would come with it. The exact track of the system was still a little iffy through the period, which made forecasting where each precipitation type would fall, and how much of an impact it would have, difficult. The storm started out with some light snow, and then that transitioned to mostly sleet and also some freezing rain early in the morning on 1/3/14. Through the day, the precip type would change to primarily rain here in Greenville, and then go back over to snow by late evening before a lull in the precip occurred. Below are a couple of images which show the mixed precip accumulations in 1/3/15. Overnight and into the morning, more snow fell, and it left the entire landscape completely covered in a beautiful blanket of snow. Every tree branch, every piece of grass, everything was covered. It was … Read More…

Christmas Eve Heavy Snow Event

12/24/14 – I wanted a snowstorm for my birthday, and my birthday just happens to fall on Christmas Eve. I got my wish! ..well … sort of. The medium range computer models (GFS and ECMWF (aka the EURO)) were both showing the potential for a big storm system to impact the Great Lakes region around Christmastime. The only issue was, how much warm air would advection would impact the outcome of this system. The models trended pretty well through the medium range, but by the time the model runs were in the short range, it was anybody’s guess as to what would happen. The GFS, NAM, ECMWF, GEM, and others were flip flopping all over the place. Everything from all rain, to rain to snow, to an all out snowstorm with some models predicting anywhere from 6 to 14 inches of snow. The NAM was the one that remained most bullish in regards to snowfall. There really was no pinning down a forecast until about 3-6 hours before the snow … Read More…

Lake Effect Snow Whiteout

11/18/14 – Another day in the wintry pattern, except this one had winds that favored more lake effect snow squalls. Some of these were very heavy, as seen here in this particular article. The day began with intermittent snow showers, but as the afternoon wore on, the lake effect snow squalls became more numerous, and started to push inland further. One of these squalls parked itself on top of me for about 20 minutes. It varied in intensity throughout it’s life span, but at it’s heaviest, this squall was dumping snow at a rate of 2 to 3 inches per hour and created whiteout conditions. At times, I couldn’t see more than 60 to 100 yards. This was some of the heaviest snow that I have ever documented. What surprised me most was the amount of motorists that didn’t have their lights on. Some of them I couldn’t even see until they were almost upon me. I was able to get some great shots during this event, and some of … Read More…

West Michigan Snowstorm 2/17/14

GREENVILLE, MI – An area of low pressure developed in the plains, gathered strength, and tracked through Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, through lower Michigan, and on into the Eastern Great Lakes region. A large swath of snow left behind accumulations generally ranging from 4-7” across lower Michigan. Locally higher amounts were found in Central Lower Michigan. There was a convective element within the storm system which worked to enhance the snowfall across the area. Below is an animation of the national radar loop (click image to enlarge) you will see a darker green band through lower Michigan, which was one of the main convective bands. Illinois had thundersnow, but that instability just never quite made it to Michigan. The right image of is GRLevel3 which shows the echo tops in the left panel, and base reflectivity in the right panel. You can see the convectively enhanced snow band well. Higher cloud tops and higher dbz returns. Season Snowfall Stats: Holland 134.5″ | Muskegon 120.7″ | Grand Rapids 101.1″ | Kalamazoo 96.1″ … Read More…

Snow Squall Intercept 1/30/14

GREENVILLE, MI (1/30/14) – The day started out dry, and dare I say balmy, with a south wind and temperatures hovering around 30F. The US National Weather Service office in Grand Rapids, MI had placed west Michigan in a Winter Weather Advisory for the potential of accumulating snow, and deteriorating driving conditions in the afternoon and evening hours. There was a fairly potent shortwave approaching from the west. This system had some lift with it, and some moisture to work with. On radar, the snow squall line resembled that of a thunderstorm squall line as it approached the region. I saved images from GRLevel3 and NexLab which include radar, velocity, and a color enhanced infrared satellite image. Images are in animated gif format. The first one (left) shows the base reflectivity (0.5) where you will see a fairly uniform consistency of 20-30dbz returns. The second one (middle) is base velocity (0.5) and you will see the mesoscale banding taking place within the squall itself. These mesoscale bands did produce some … Read More…