Words on Weather & Climate

December 18, 2009 // 0 Comments

Storm facts by CRAIG JAMES Here are a few facts about the storm that affected much of the country Dec. 6-11. The barometer reading in Grand Rapids dropped to a record-low reading for the month of December at 28.86”. Some home barometers don’t even register that low. Readings below 29.00” are not uncommon in Great Lakes storms, but don’t happen very often in West Michigan due to the fact that the low pressure centers usually move either to the south or to the north of our area. This one went directly overhead. By the way, the lowest barometer reading ever recorded for this area was set in the blizzard of January 1978 with a reading of 28.68”. Technically, we never did reach actual blizzard conditions in Kent County from the storm. To officially be a blizzard, there must be sustained winds of 35 mph or greater with the visibility reduced to less than a quarter mile in snow and blowing snow. The highest sustained winds reported in Kent County were around 30 mph, but we did have many times when the visibility was less than a quarter mile. Many people don’t realize that the amount of snow is not considered when issuing a blizzard warning, just the wind speed and visibility. The worst of the weather, as usual, occurred to the north and west of the storm center. A state of emergency was declared in much of Wisconsin due to 10 to 18 inches of snow and wind gusts over 40 mph. However, Milwaukee only picked up 3 inches. At Marinette, in the northeast corner of the state, a wind gust hit 78 mph with widespread power outages and most roads drifted shut. Snow totals of 15-30 inches were common in the western half of the Upper Peninsula, which was a pretty significant snowfall even for those hardy folks. This was the same storm that earlier in the week produced wind gusts measuring over 100 mph in three western states. The highest gust of 116 mph hit White Sands, N.M. The Deer Valley Airport in Phoenix, Ariz., reported a wind gust to 75 mph. Wolf Creek Pass, Colo., received 5 feet of new snow from the storm. As bad as this system was, it wasn’t […]