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Revising Alert Policy

I normally don’t allow “Winter Weather Advisories” (WWA) to post on the City page (home page), because too often those end with unremarkable snow totals here. Also, people tune out after a certain point if they are constantly barraged with alerts, which can happen during the winter here.  When you see an alert posted on our main page, you can generally place confidence in its importance and relevance to the city.  Note that the detailed forecast will always specify accumulating precipitation within the next couple days regardless of alert status.

When I saw the Winter Weather Advisory hoisted on Friday (1/17/20), I decided to post it. I could see that just the front-end of the incoming storm was forecast to deliver 4-7″ in about 12 hours. I could also see that conditions were right for a decent amount of lake effect over the following 24 hours.  The $64,000 question, as always, was “how much?”

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Weekend Wrap Up (1/10-12)

Surface map at 2 PM Saturday 1/11/2020 courtesy of College of Dupage

Some may wonder what happened to all the snow that was in last week’s forecasts. Well… this is a story about a cool, dry Canadian high picking a fight with a warm, moist low to the south.

Numerical weather predictions (“the models”) were all over the place in the days leading up to the presumed storm Saturday/Sunday. In the end, the low pressure system with all the embedded moisture ended up tracking further southeast into Lower Michigan. High pressure won the day.

However, northeast winds and cooler temperatures were sufficient to produce some extremely lightweight, low-intensity, lake-effect snowfall. This is snow where you can decide between a shovel and a broom when it comes time to clean up! Gusty winds kept lifting it off our snow boards. We ended up only measuring 0.2″. But our estimate is about 1.5″ of snow fell early Saturday through Sunday afternoon.

An active week to 10 days lies ahead. In particular, a significant storm originating out of the Rockies may head up our way Fri/Sat. Some smaller snow events in between. Also some lake effect to follow, possibly.

Were Those Snow Squalls?

During the 2:00 – 4:30 PM time frame on Tuesday afternoon (12/17/19), Marquette saw two distinct lines of heavy snowfall that spanned approximately 75-100 miles west to east on radar (~ 10 miles north to south). The first hit about 2:15 PM EST. A second line had formed 2 hours later. Both only lasted for about 15-30 minutes. In between were light to moderate lake-enhanced snow showers. During each burst of snowfall, visibility dropped well below a quarter mile and winds were gusting near or above 20 mph in town according to our instruments and the U.S. Coast Guard station.  Continue reading “Were Those Snow Squalls?”

Post Thanksgiving Winter Storm Recap

That was quite the winter storm for the 1st day of December! Three blocks south of downtown, we unofficially recorded a 12.1″ snowfall total. The official city COOP station near the lakefront reported 12.9″. That’s a new daily snowfall record for Marquette, assuming that number is confirmed by the local National Weather Service office. There was one other (unofficial) report in town of 13″.

Turns out, the storm concentrated its efforts further north than originally thought. More of Wisconsin was supposed to be in the mix. So my fears of it moving south and leaving us with another underwhelming snow total, as happened just 4 days beforehand, proved to be, let’s just say, “slightly off target”. Like a dart in the door frame.

Then there was the issue that so-called Winter Storm “Ezekiel” gave us twice the liquid precipitation (what you get when you melt a quantity of snow) than was modeled!

Also, during part of the morning and early afternoon, Lakes Huron and Superior hooked up to make extra snow.

Well, at least we had a beautiful sunny day to dig out!

Winter Storm Recap & Preview

Recap of Wednesday

The last winter storm that moved through the city on Wednesday (11/27) underwhelmed in terms of forecasted snowfall. In the end, I measured 4.1″. If I hadn’t cleared the snow boards immediately after the rain transitioned to snow (at 5:30 AM) to avoid melting and measured several times before the snow could settle, the result would have been a much lower total. Other reports from around town and nearby lakeshore communities were closer to 2-3″. The official city COOP station only recorded 1.0″.

There was plenty of precipitation embedded in that snow soup we received. This station’s final total was 1.36″ spread over 11/26-27. The COOP station reported 0.97″. NOAA “SWE analysis” (snow water equivalent) showed the city, in general, receiving 1.25″ – 1.5″ of precip. Up in Negaunee Township at the National Weather Service office, they received 3″ of precip & just over 16″ of snow! What a difference elevation makes!

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