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Radar Malfunction

The National Weather Service Marquette has experienced a radar transmitter failure.  See updates below.

See: https://forecast.weather.gov/product.php?site=NWS&issuedby=mqt&product=FTM

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UPDATE 2/16/20 10:00 AM: Radar has been returned to service.

UPDATE 2/16/20 7:00 AM: Radar transmitter out of service again. Technician will work on it this morning.

UPDATE 2/13/20 1:20 PM: Radar has been returned to service.

UPDATE 2/12/20 2:40 PM: Parts are on order. Return to service expected by 4 PM tomorrow.

UPDATE 2/12/20 8:00 AM: Radar transmitter out of service again.

UPDATE 2/10/20 6:30 PM: Radar has been returned to service.

UPDATE 2/10/20 4:50 PM: Radar transmitter out of service again.

UPDATE 2/9/20 12:30 PM: Radar has been returned to service.

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?”

Continue reading “Revising Alert Policy”

Radar Down Until Thursday 8/8

According to the local National Weather Service office, the radar will be down for preventative maintenance until Thursday August 8th at 3:00 PM EDT.

If a storm develops, the radar should be temporarily re-enabled.

All radar options on our site will be affected by the outage.

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UPDATE 8/6/19 2:00 PM EDT: Radar is back online. No storms expected today. Not sure what’s going on. No update from NWS.

Blizzard Updates

In reverse chronological order (newest first):

  • Measurement site is now open (as of 3 pm Monday) & ready for the next precip event!
  • The snow measurement site is currently blocked by 4+ ft drifts. Will dig out this afternoon. But I was able to see from a distance that only a trace of snow has fallen since the last report at 10:40 pm Sunday (at which time I body surfed through the snow to reach the gauge).
  • Winds should really start to fall off after noon today (Monday).
  • Our storm total from Saturday morning thru Sunday night is 12.3″ of snow. Likely we got a few additional inches but they found a home in nearby drifts.
  • Just recorded another low-ish snowfall measurement of 0.9″ at 10:40 pm. Can’t keep snow on the board.
  • As of 11 pm it appears that winds may have peaked in the 8 pm hour. Each successive hour has had a lower average wind speed.
  • NEW Station Record of 51 mph set at 9:03 pm Sunday
  • Winds should peak between about 7 pm – 9 pm Sunday
  • Last snow measurement of 1.2″ (representing snowfall between 7:30 am – 2:05 pm) is low. Unfortunately, snow is being blown off the collection surface. I left some snow on there so hopefully the incoming snow will stick to it. But with almost horizontal snowfall, it’s tough to measure! It all wants to collect in a drifted pile somewhere.
  • It’s possible we could break our station wind record (49 mph) in the next 24 hours.
  • We received some freezing rain overnight. About 0.2″. From what I could see, though, power lines and tree limbs were unaffected — no ice accumulation. Probably too much wind and too warm to stick. The really cold temps don’t hit until later tonight.
  • Almost an entire February’s worth of precipitation fell in the 24 hours ending 7:30 am Sunday: 1.22″. Normally we receive about 1.3″ of melted precipitation for the month. We’re now at 4.99″ for February 2019!

Putting Weather Alerts On A Diet

Synopsis: There are too many alerts containing overblown/non-applicable impacts and unnecessary instructions. Continue reading to see which alerts will now be displayed on the home page and why.

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I’ve grown weary of all the alerts from the NWS that either 1) don’t apply within the city limits of Marquette or 2) don’t meet legitimate criteria for issuance.

Take, for example, Saturday morning’s wind chill advisory where there were virtually calm winds for hours while air temps were above 0.

Or consider the recent winter storm warning (for 2/7/19) where most parts of the county got 5-7″ and published guidelines require 8″ in 12 hours or 10″ in 24 hours. This occurred despite a drying trend in the model guidance even before the warning was issued. In isolation, this wouldn’t be a problem. Unfortunately, we haven’t had a single storm that meets warning criteria this winter (at least not in Marquette). Yet how many warnings have we had? I’ve lost count.

I’m sure any decision can be justified as following the spirit rather than the letter of the law. To that I say “if you can bend the rules one way, you can bend them the other. ”

I think, in general, more deference should be shown toward the unflappable, resilient spirit of Marquette and the U.P. We do not need alerts every time more than 2″ of snow is going to fall. Marquette normally receives ~10ft of snow per year. That’s a steady stream of statements & advisories notifying us that it’s, indeed, winter.

Furthermore, and I’m sorry/not sorry for the grumpy old man rant here, we don’t need to be constantly told how to dress, drive, and survive historically unremarkable winter events. Anyone who is that ignorant or helpless here is unlikely to fully read and heed the information anyway.

I may be told there is nothing that can be done because of mandates from on high. God (D.C.) has ordained these things and, therefore, all things are in their proper order. Well, in fact, there is something I can do. As of earlier today, I have suspended all but the most life-threatening notifications from the home page. These include: tornado watches/warnings, flood watches/warnings and ice storm warnings. Those are, indeed, unexpected events that can catch people unaware and endanger them without proper notification. The rest can be handled by the forecast.

The area page will continue to show all alerts for two reasons. First, most alerts are for the area rather than the city which is the focus of the home page. Secondly, I realize not everyone will agree with my decision, and I believe in freedom of choice.

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[UPDATE Mon 2/11/19 12:15PM]: After further consideration, I am going to allow Winter Storm Warnings to post on the home page.  This is because Marquetters frequently travel outside the city. At least as important, the alert serves as a heads up to check the forecast and prepare for something other than the standard inch or two of snow.