I dusted off my Skywarn ‘Go’ bag yesterday which includes all the instruments I use should severe weather move into the area. I would generally go south and west of of the Otsego/Plainwell area or head northwest on M-89 towards Allegan where there is flat land and fields where the visibility is unobstructed by trees and buildings. I have a handheld scanner to keep track of weather, EMS, Ham and police reports, a lightning detector which can track lightning strength and movement, an anemometer to record wind speed, a high definition video camera and off course my cell phone which has Radarscope to track storm locations and to report to the NWS. I won’t go out after dark or, if I do it won’t be far from home base, just far enough to get out of the valley I live in. Bittersweet is a good location if the gates are open and I can get up the hill.
We haven’t had much in the way of severe weather the past couple years, just a few thunderstorms with heavy rain and a bit of small hail.
I will be at the Skywarn session in Shelbyville with my brother on Saturday. Over the past month I have been talking to a lot of people at various area businesses in the Otsego/Plainwell area which have shown a lot of interest in attending.
Here are the latest SPC graphics for today and an explanation of what the colors mean.
Overview: Convective outlooks for days 1, 2, and 3 consist of categorical and probabilistic graphics that depict severe and general thunderstorm threats across the continental United States, along with a text narrative.
Graphical categorical risk: Using numbers, words, and colors, the categorical graphic depicts general thunderstorm areas (TSTM-light green) and up to five risk types (1-MRGL-dark green, 2-SLGT-yellow, 3-ENH-orange, 4-MDT-red, and 5-HIGH-magenta) based on the coverage and intensity of organized severe weather such as supercells, squall lines, and multicell thunderstorm complexes. Pulse type thunderstorms, consisting primarily of solitary brief severe updrafts (often found in weakly sheared environments), are not considered organized.
The TSTM area encloses where a 10% or higher probability of thunderstorms is forecast during the valid period. A 1-MRGL-dark green risk area includes severe storms of either limited organization and longevity, or very low coverage and marginal intensity. A 2-SLGT-yellow risk area implies organized severe thunderstorms are expected, but usually in low coverage with varying levels of intensity. A 3-ENH-orange risk area depicts a greater concentration of organized severe thunderstorms with varying levels of intensity. A 4-MDT-red risk indicates potential for widespread severe weather with several tornadoes and/or numerous severe thunderstorms, some of which may be intense. A 5-HIGH-magenta risk area suggests a severe weather outbreak is expected from either numerous intense and long-track tornadoes, or a long-lived derecho system with hurricane-force wind gusts producing widespread damage.
Graphical probabilistic risk: The probability of severe weather drives the outlook categories, with the tables below showing the conversion for each threshold. On day 1, the outlook contains individual severe probabilities for tornadoes, wind, and hail. With greater uncertainty about severe-storm type into the future, the outlooks on day 2 and 3 only forecast the combined probability of all three types of severe weather. For all outlooks, the probability values represent the chance of severe weather occurring within 25 miles of any point, which is about the size of a major metropolitan area.
As an example, if you have a 15% probability for tornadoes, this means you have a 15% chance of a tornado occurring within 25 miles of your location. This may seem like a low number, but a tornado is very uncommon at any one location. Normally, your chances of getting hit by a tornado or other severe weather are small, purely based on statistical average. Let’s say you have a 1% statistical (climatology) history of tornadoes within 25 miles on this day, which still is large. Having a 15% probability means 15 times the normal odds of a tornado nearby, meaning it should be taken seriously. The probabilities for severe thunderstorm wind and hail also have the same meaning as they do for tornadoes, but typically will be higher numbers than for tornadoes, since they are much more common.
Sometimes, a black hatched area will be overlaid with the severe probabilities. Black hatching means a 10% or higher probability for significant severe events within 25 miles of any point. “Significant” is defined as: tornadoes rated EF2 or greater, thunderstorm wind gusts of hurricane force (74 mph) or higher, or hail 2 inches or larger in diameter.
The outlooks on day 2 and 3 combine all forms (tornado, wind, and hail) into a single black hatched area for a 10% or higher significant-severe risk. In addition, for tropical cyclones (hurricanes, tropical storms and depressions), the outlooks on day 2 and 3 allow a 5% total severe probability to be a SLGT risk because they are specifically tornado-driven.
The U.S. map has been colorful the past couple days with a wide range of hazards. There are multiple reports in eastern Colorado of wind speeds of over 80mph with snow up to 13 inches. Kansas has also reported wind gusts over 80mph. Storm reports can be found here.
We have flood watches for most of northern lower Michigan through tomorrow evening. We will remain in an unsettle pattern until Monday when we will finally have a calm pattern setting up for a good portion of next week.
The threat for strong/severe storms this afternoon/evening looks lower than previously thought with areas south/east of Lower Michigan most at risk. You can find the latest area forecast discussion here.
Below is the NAM forecast for today:
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