Great Lakes Storms

Words on Weather & Climate — November 4, 2010

November 4, 2010 // 0 Comments

The Great Lakes Storm of 2010 by CRAIG JAMES  The major storm that affected much of the United States the last week of October was certainly one for the record books, but given its intensity, I think it produced far less damage than was expected. The storm first impacted the West Coast with very heavy rain and high winds, and this may be a prevalent pattern over the upcoming winter for that area of the country. Coastal areas received four to eight inches of rain from the system and a lot of 40-50 mph winds. Waves reached 22 feet off the Washington Coast, none of which is all that uncommon for a strong Pacific system. The strong jet stream did help produce wind gusts to 132 mph at Squaw Peak northwest of Lake Tahoe, but that was at an elevation of 8,700 feet. The weather computer models did a very good job of forecasting how the storm would reorganize over the central plains and become a huge and very intense system as it headed toward the western Great Lakes. Barometer readings were forecast to fall to record low levels in the center of the system and that is exactly what happened. On Tuesday afternoon, Oct. 27, a barometer reading of 28.21 inches was reported in north central Minnesota, making it the lowest pressure reading on record for any storm in the interior of the country. Hurricanes and nor’easters have had lower pressure readings, but no storms over land in the center of the country have had readings this low. The blizzard of 1978 had a slightly lower reading of 28.05 inches when it was over Lake Huron but not when it was over land. Since a barometer reading this low is usually associated with a category three hurricane capable of steady winds of 111 to 130 mph with gusts to 150 mph, it was surprising the winds were not stronger with this system. Peak winds throughout the Plains and Great Lakes were generally around 40 mph with gusts to 50-60 mph. There were a few gusts between 70 and 80 mph but not many. In Michigan, a gust to 71 mph was reported near Ludington, a gust to 74 just northwest of Traverse City and […]