What a Difference a Year Makes

Bill's Blog

One year ago (11/11/19), Grand Rapids got 5.5″ of new snow and the temperature didn’t get above freezing. The plows and salt trucks were out (pic. from Kent Co. Road Commission). From Nov. 6-14, 2019 (9 days), there was only one day when it didn’t snow. Last year Nov. 4-10 was 9° colder than average. The warmest temperature in the entire month of November was 54°, and only 7 of 30 days were warmer than average. The month ended 5.5° cooler than average.

Above is a nice summary of the recent November “heat wave” from the G.r. NWS. This year in G.R., we had a week (4th-10th) with the temperature a whopping 18° warmer than average. That was 27° warmer than the same week last year. The entire state of Michigan got in on the warm air. Traverse City had their warmest day ever in November with a 78° on Nov. 9 and the combination high/low of 78°/63° made the day 31° warmer than average. Traverse City also had 6 days out of 7 above 70°. S. Ste. Marie had 4 days of +70° with the 75° on the 9th the warmer reading ever in November. Marquette had four 70-degree days plus a day that was 30° warmer than average. That came after an October record 22.1″ of snow and another 3.2″ of snow on Nov. 1.

Comparing the heat waves of March 2012, Sept. 2017 and Nov. 2020

The top-of-the list “heat wave” in West Michigan was the warm spell that occurred in March 2012. Over a stretch of 10 days from the 14th-23rd, the temperature was 30° warmer than average. The high temp of 87° on March 21 was 40° warmer than average – the warmest day ever relative to average in G.R. That day I took my kayak to Gun Lake and actually jumped in the water and swam around for a few minutes. The water temp. was 64° (I keep a thermometer in my car). During that stretch there were 8 record high temperatures.

The heat wave of September 2017 gave us 6 consecutive days in the low-mid 90s from the 21st to the 26th. Those six days had 93% of possible sunshine. That following winter we had a very cold period from Dec. 24 – Jan. 6 that was 18° colder than average.

The strongest cold period in Grand Rapids occurred in Feb. 1899. We had 5 consecutive mornings with low temps. from -21° to -24° from Feb. 10-14. The high temperature of -6° on 2/10/1899 remains the coldest high temp. ever in G.R.

The hottest stretch of weather in West Michigan and in the U.S. occurred in July 1936. For seven days, Grand Rapids had an AVERAGE high temperature of 102° and that included our two hottest days ever, 106° and 108° on 7/13-4. Mio had the state’s hottest temperature ever at 112° and Newaygo was right behind at 111°

Thunder Bay Island – Nov. 11, 2020

This pic. was taken at 9:03 am on 11/11. This is the Thunder Bay Island Lighthouse. Note the ship in the background to the left of the lighthouse.

North American Snow and Ice Cover

While the east has been warm, the Northern Plains and West have been cold and snowy. On Veterans Day, much of the state of Minnesota awoke to 6″ of snow on the ground. In Canada, smaller lakes north of Lake Winnipeg are frozen already and ice has starting forming on the west shore of Hudson Bay.

Forecast High Temperatures for Thursday Nov. 12

Here’s forecast high temperatures for today (Thu.). It’s relatively warm in the East and in the Gulf States and cool in the Upper Midwest and Rockies.

Also: The temperature at the Muskegon Airport rose from 34° to 42° last hour as the west shifted to the west and started coming off the 52° water of Lake Michigan. Severe flooding in the Philippines.

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