June 9th, 2008


And Then The Rains Fell

Three Days

This entry is not a whine. A lot of other places have been getting pounded by storms this spring a lot worse than West Michigan. But we have seen quite a run of storms taking the exact same track several days in the row.

One of the big differences from even just a few years ago, the TV stations have much better technology than they used to. They can pick a point on a storm front and plot out minute by minute when it will reach different towns. Doppler radar is getting good at picking out rotations and other bits of interest.

Is this overkill? Well... taking phone calls at the news desk and hearing people say, "Yup it's raining." "Nope, not yet." "It's dark here." really isn't all that interesting. Really. On the other hand, people calling in to complain that they can't watch very much of "National Treasure" on NBC, or whatever channel 13 was showing on Saturday afternoon -- these people need to think about what they're saying as the station people are trying to warn people and report outages of power and roads.

On Saturday afternoon, I watched the screens of the lightning detectors showing this wall of lightning strikes crossing Lake Michigan and coming ashore from Gary IN around the bend and up through West Michigan. Peaked at over 20,000 strikes an hour. There was like no spacing between the lightning icons, just a solid mass of colored marks.

Torrential Downpours

Massive amounts of rain. Even at 1am last night, the rain hitting the roof just roared for a few minutes. Fortunately, we're built on sand, so it's pretty good drainage. Except, one does get some reminders about sand every now and then.

Lake Shore Drive near Saugatuk MI, just north of M-89. A 16-year-old kid and his mother were heading out on Sunday morning before 4am to pick up their load of Grand Rapids Presses to deliver. But rushing water undermined the sand and so the road ended and they drove off the road and fell thirty feet into the roaring creek bed, filled with a jumble of disrupted culvert pipes. The vehicle was located a hundred feet downstream, upsidedown, and though rescue people cut through the doors, it was far too late.

This morning US-31 between I-196 and Washington Street was cut off in both directions as the shoulders and part of the road were washed out. By the end of rush hour they had US-31 open in one direction, but it was still closed on the other side in the evening rush hour.


From Kalamazoo on a line to Lansing, they got nailed several times. And half-a-million lost power. In fact, after I left on Friday afternoon, with thunder sounding ominously to the west, and seeing a wall of rain advance and white out everything for half a minute on Main Street just before the expressway, I am told that a tornado warning was issued on campus and some of my students couldn't turn in their homework before 5pm because the staff was in the basement of Rood Hall -- the six-story office building Everett Tower doesn't have a basement.

I of course accepted the homework today.

And Then There's Indiana

Man, I cannot tell you how many times in the past six months we watched storms either miss us and stomp through Indiana, or if we got some, they got it worse. To hear the one weather guy, it sounds like there's not a cow or corn plant above water in the entire Hoosier state.

The Only Whine

Okay, I'll admit it. The one thing I really hate about all this is the cold clammy humid air. I hate trying to sleep when it's humid. But it's too cold to get the bedcovers quite right with the A.C. trying to dry it out.

Can we just have it cold? Or hot? This mix-and-match and inbetween stuff with the high humidity is for the birds. Ducks, that is, with webbed feet.

Dr. Phil
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