Planting Time!

Bill's Blog

For much of West Michigan, I believe we’re past the threat of a freeze and probably even a frost at this point. There are exceptions…the low spots that are typically 5 or 6 degrees colder than surrounding areas on a calm, clear night (Baldwin, Leota), but for most of us, it’s planting time! Time to get to your local greenhouse or garden store and let’s start summer!

Frost Advisory and Freeze Warning

Here’s a list of low temperatures last night. Some of the cold spots: Leota 25, Baldwin 27, Paw Paw 28, Plainwell 29. Other low temps: 32 East G.R., Jackson, 34 Kalamazoo, 35 Muskegon and Battle Creek, 36 Grand Rapids (airport), Sparta (Kraft Orchards).

Keep in mind that these temperatures are taken at the five foot level (eye level) and it was probably a touch colder right at the ground. Also, on a calm, clear night, you can have a lot of variation over a short distance. It can be 37 on a hilltop and 32 in a nearby valley.

Lake Michigan satellite picture Thursday PM May 13 2021

Here’s the Lake Michigan satellite picture from Thursday PM. Skies were clear over West Michigan and over Lake Michigan, with partly cloudy skies in E. Wisconsin and N. Illinois. Those clouds are fluffy cumulus clouds a little less than a mile above the Earth’s surface. The air continues to be very dry in W. Michigan – at 4 pm, the dew point was 24 in G.R. with a relative humidity of 19% and at Kalamazoo there was a 20 dew point with a relative humidity of 16%.

Shortly after sunset at Michigan City, Indiana

Again we had onshore lake breezes. At 4 pm EDT – Muskegon MI had a west wind at 12 mph, South Haven was west at 9 pm. Across the lake at Milwaukee WI, the wind was ESE at 9 mph and Kenosha WI was east at 10 mph. At the south end of the lake, the wind was north coming off the lake at both Gary IN and Michigan City IN (see pic. above from Michigan City shortly after sunset – the wind and the water had gone calm). At the north end of the lake, there was a south wind at 13 mph at Manistique and Escanaba had a SSE wind at 9 mph.

With wind diverging around that lake, that means that the air was sinking over Lake Michigan. At 4 pm, the wind at the S. Haven buoy was 2 mph and the waves were only 4″ high.

There will be widely scattered frost, mostly in normally cold, low spots this Friday AM. There should be a weak inversion, so if frost preventative measures are required in fruit growing areas (fans, helicopter) they should be taken. However, most fruit farms are located on ridges or areas where cold air can drain to lower elevations and I do not anticipate any significant frost damage tonight. Bottom line, if you made it through the last several nights, you’ll make it through tonight.

I am not personally bringing my plants in – I live on a hill and am usually a warmer spot on a calm, night. Low temps. should be similar or a degree or two warmer than last night in most areas. Being the old man that I am – I’ll wake up on my own and when I do, I’ll check the temperature to see how we compare to last night.

Wed. night, G.R. (Ford Airport) had a low of 33, Kent City stopped at 33 and Sparta had a low of 36. The usual cold spot of Baldwin (Lake Co.) had low temps. of 20 and 21 Tue. and Wed. nights. In Baldwin, you generally don’t plant sensitive vegetation until Memorial Day….before Memorial Day you go fishin’.

Another sunny, warm day this Friday with light winds – highs inland around 70 and 50s at Lake Michigan. It’ll be another good day to watch for dust devils.

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