Weather and Climate


June 30, 2011 // 0 Comments

A Summary by CRAIG JAMES Over the past couple of months I have written several articles on why I am skeptical over the claim that increasing carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere will bring about catastrophic global warming. Al Gore and others have stated that human-induced global warming “is the most dangerous challenge mankind has ever faced.” Hogwash! That is nothing but a political statement. The correct view of the issue has been summed up nicely by Dr. Richard Lindzen from M.I.T. in his testimony before the House Committee on Science and Technology in November of last year when he stated, “It is not about whether CO2 is increasing; it clearly is. It is not about whether the increase in CO2, by itself, will lead to some warming; it should. The debate is simply over the matter of how much warming the increase in CO2 can lead to, and the connection of such warming to the innumerable claimed catastrophes.” I’ve written about how as CO2 increases in the atmosphere it has a smaller and smaller effect on the temperature—a fact indeed acknowledged even by the alarmists. The catastrophic claims arise from computer models. It has been shown by many in the science community that the models have made false assumptions about what would happen in a warmer world, which leads to forecasts of way too much warming. When we have been able to test those models, we find that the real world temperatures (even if we accept the faulty surface temperature record) are below all of the computer forecasts. The models are wrong. How many more years will be needed of cooler temperatures than forecast before the alarmists acknowledge this fact? Every instance of severe weather seems to send alarmists running to the national media to claim, “It’s even worse than we thought,” or as Time Magazine has headlined, “This is the new normal.” The alarmists seem to have no interest in actually going back through the weather records to find out whether these events have ever happened in the past. They have, and CO2 levels were lower at the time. Several university studies as well as NOAA’s climate science investigators have found no link between any of the recent severe weather events, from […]


June 16, 2011 // 0 Comments

by CRAIG JAMES We had our first Ozone Action Day of the season last week, except they are now called Clean Air Action Days. According to the website of the West Michigan Clean Air Coalition, they are just “thrilled to announce that its Ozone Action program has now become the Clean Air Action program.” I guess they really get excited by this stuff. The change means we will now be getting Clean Air Action Days, not only in the summer due to ozone levels, but year round when fine particulate matter exceeds certain levels. Fine particulate matter is defined as having a diameter of 2.5 micrometers or smaller. A single hair from your head is about 70 micrometers in diameter, which means a hair is 30 times larger than the largest fine particle. These particles are present in haze, smoke and pollution, and are small enough to enter the lungs, causing respiratory problems in some people. Thankfully, West Michigan doesn’t very often have a problem with fine particulate matter and ozone levels only reach unhealthy levels a few days each year. Actions to lower ozone or fine particulate matter are voluntary at the current time. These actions include things I’m sure you’ve heard many times before, such as not mowing the lawn, not filling up your gas tank, or using a grill during the heat of the day, as well as curtailing driving. If air quality standards, which keep being strengthened, are not achieved by voluntary action, then the government will step in and mandate certain actions such as automobile emission inspections, which will be a cost to everyone. We did set a record high temperature in Grand Rapids last week on June 7 at 94 degrees. It is the warmest temperature in June in the past two years but, more notably, it is the first time since 1953 that we have set a record high in June. Bill Steffen went back through the records and found out: “Most all of our summer season record high temperatures are old and not recent. If you take the months of June, July and August… those 92 days… only 14 days have record high temperatures that have been set or tied since 1959. The other 78 days all […]


June 2, 2011 // 0 Comments

The Not So Merry Month of May by CRAIG JAMES The month of May can be one of the most pleasant months of the year, but I don’t think this past month qualified as pleasant. It was quite wet and gloomy. At least a trace of rain fell on 21 of the 31 days and there was only one day with 100% of possible sunshine. It was also another windy month. Every day of the month but two had wind gusts of 20 mph or more and three days had wind gusts over 40 mph. I have heard many comments that this has been one of the windiest spring seasons in memory and I have to agree. On the plus side, it was certainly a great month for growing grass and the ornamental trees have looked beautiful. We are also now up to over 15 hours of daylight. The sun on the last day of the month climbed to 69 degrees above the horizon at solar noon. The highest it gets is 70 degrees from June 11 through July 1. The sun is up for 15 hours and 23 minutes June 20 through 24. By the way, solar noon, or the time when the sun is highest in the sky, occurs in Grand Rapids on June 21, the first day of summer, at 1:45 in the afternoon. That’s almost two hours later than noon local time because we are at the western end of the time zone and also because we are on Daylight Saving Time. You may notice that our high temperatures for the day usually occur as late as 6 p.m. at this time of year. Even though the wind made it feel cool much of the time, this past May was actually a little warmer than average thanks especially to the warm Memorial Day. The highest temperature of record for a Memorial Day in Grand Rapids was 92 degrees set way back in 1919. We just missed that reading by three degrees this year. The western states have had a very cool spring. In Aspen, Colorado, there was almost twice as much snow on the ground on Memorial Day as there was on New Year’s Day and the ski hills are still […]


March 31, 2011 // 0 Comments

What a Difference Snow Cover Makes by CRAIG JAMES We had a very bright and sunny weekend March 26 and 27 with 100% of possible sunshine both days, but it certainly was cold. In fact, from the 24th through the 28th, temperatures were more than 10 degrees below average even with all the sunshine each day. Temperatures at night those five days dipped well into the teens, but it would have been even colder if there had been snow on the ground. Take a look at this satellite image from Sunday afternoon, the 27th. You can see the sharp southern edge of the snow cover not far north of Rockford running from southern Oceana County to northern Montcalm County. This snow was from last week’s storm that gave Rockford and Grand Rapids mainly rain and freezing rain. You can also see a narrow band of lake effect clouds from near Ludington to near Milwaukee. This orientation from northeast to southwest is because the wind was from the northeast. Over the snow-covered areas to our north, many locations reported low temperatures near and even below zero. The thermometer dipped to -7 near Big Rapids on the morning of the 26th. It was -6 at Cadillac on the 26th, -7 on the 27th, and -4 on the 28th. We could have been nearly that cold here if the snow cover had been a few counties farther south. Will we see more snow? I would certainly suspect so. The average snowfall for the month of April is two inches. There hasn’t been any measurable snowfall in our area in April the past three years, so I guess we are due, especially with the cold pattern we are experiencing. There have actually been a couple of snowstorms this past week pass just to our south, which is a little unusual for this late in the season. In St. Louis, high temperatures climbed into the low 80s on the 17th, 20th and 21st. However, they have now had 7.5 inches of snow this month as of the 28th, with more on the way. In Washington, D.C., an inch of snow fell on the cherry blossoms on the 27th. There has only been a little over an inch of snow in […]


February 23, 2011 // 0 Comments

Don’t believe everything you hear or read by CRAIG JAMES My mother always used to tell me to believe almost nothing of what you hear and only half of what you read (except in The Rockford Squire, of course, where you can always believe what you read… right?). With the advent of the Internet, it is now getting even more difficult to believe some of the things you read. Once again this year, there are e-mails making the rounds showing some incredible winter weather, and I thought I’d address whether these e-mails are true or not. I’m sure many of you have received pictures like this first one in an e-mail stating that this iceberg occurred in Lake Michigan. It is indeed a true photo of an iceberg, but it certainly did not occur in Lake Michigan. However, icebergs occasionally do look like this in the Antarctic Ocean. Blue stripes can be created when a crevice in the ice sheet fills up with melt water and freezes so quickly that no bubbles form. Salty seawater can sometimes freeze to the underside of the iceberg and if it is rich in algae, it can form a green stripe. Brown, black or yellow lines are caused by sediment picked up when the ice sheet slides downhill toward the sea. They are truly beautiful but you won’t ever see them on Lake Michigan. The pictures making the e-mail rounds were taken by a Norwegian sailor about 1,700 miles south of Cape Town, South Africa. Another thing you won’t ever see in the Great Lakes, regardless of what your e-mail says, are frozen waves such as in this picture. Waves like this were reported to have formed when the water froze the instant it came in contact with very cold air in northern Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. It does get cold around there, but not that cold. Pictures like this one were taken in Antarctica and the apparent waves were actually formed by melting and not freezing. Melting produced the downward pointing spikes and the smoothly polished surfaces that look like a breaking wave. Pictures like this next one have been circulating since 2004. The first ones were claimed to be from Oswego, New York and another mailing […]

1 2 3