December 9th, 2009

kate-winter-coat

The First We're All Going To Die Warnings Of The Winter

The Coming Storm(s)

Last Friday we got our first significant snow of the season here in West Michigan. Now we're in the middle of three days of Severe Weather Warnings. Tuesday night we got a little snow and some wind, and there were a lot of school closings, though not Grand Rapids or Allendale. Temps been up to around 36°F and rain. This has pretty much cleared the roads by midday, though it is turning the snow in the driveway into a slushy mess. From here we're expecting a drop down to around the 20s overnight, with another couple inches of snow and wind gusts up to 50mph, i.e. Blizzard Warnings for Ottawa, Kent, Allegan and Kalamazoo Counties. Just now the wind really began to pick up -- 3:30pm EST.

For the two storms back-to-back, we're in a band expecting to get a total of 8"-12" of snow, a couple of inches at a time. That's not all that much snow, but Grand Haven's forecast for Thursday is a high of 19°F and a low of 19°F -- and here it is expected to drop to around 15°F Thursday night. So it's not the snow so much as the wind, the drifting, the ice and the freezing solid of any snow ruts where the pavement meets the driveways and parking lots.

Don't Know What To Do

Of course Thursday is my last official class for the semester, 3:30pm-4:45pm, with Finals next week. Don't know how many students will be able to make it in -- or whether they even should. And from here, it is impossible to know how foolhardy it is for me to try to make the 77 mile trek down to Kalamazoo tomorrow, or the drive back.

Just now there was some banging along the back of the house -- the wind seems to be knocking off the last of the big icicles and chunks of ice that have been warmed up by the above freezing temps plus rain.

Officially we're in a Blizzard warning for Thursday. Kalamazoo Valley Community College (KVCC) is closing at 4:30pm today. But they're very exposed on the west side of town.

Not Good News

The Weather Underground link off the WMU home page says:
Blizzard Warning
Statement as of 11:56 am EST on December 9, 2009

... Blizzard Warning remains in effect until 4 PM EST Thursday...

Hazardous weather...

* snow will become heavier by early afternoon. Another 1 to 2
inches of snow can be expected through this evening. Periods
of heavy lake effect snow are expected to begin tonight.

* Winds will become southwest and increase to 25 to 35 mph will
develop by late afternoon with gusts of 40 to 50 mph. These
winds will last into Thursday and cause considerable blowing
and drifting of snow.

* Visibilities will frequently be reduced to near zero at times
this evening into Thursday.

* Gusty winds along with rapidly falling temperatures will
produce wind chills in the single digits by tonight.

* Expect additional snow accumulations of 6 to 10 inches
through Thursday afternoon.

Impacts...

* all travel should be completed as soon as possible.

* Travel will be most severely impacted late this afternoon as
snow... blowing snow... and rapidly falling temperatures occur
near the time of the afternoon commute. Blizzard conditions
are expected throughout the evening... especially along U.S.
Highway 131.


* Power outages will be possible tonight into Thursday morning
due to the strong gusty winds.

Precautionary/preparedness actions...

* it would be best not to travel tonight through Thursday. (emphasis mine)

* If you must travel... keep an extra flashlight... food... and
water in your vehicle in case of an emergency.

* A Blizzard Warning is issued when sustained wind speeds or
frequent gusts of over 35 mph are expected with considerable
falling and/or blowing and drifting snow. Visibilities will
become poor... with whiteout conditions at times. Those
venturing outdoors may become lost or disoriented... so
persons in the warning area are advised to stay indoors.


Now I know that a certain amount of this is boilerplate. But it's so early in the wintry season and so many people have forgotten how to drive in snow, the plow crews haven't gotten in a lot of time yet this year -- it seems increasingly stupid to tempt fate this close to Finals.

Another thump, this on the front porch. Oh, it's UPS -- the driver walked the 250 foot driveway rather than try out the icy/slushy mess.

Yeah, dithering over. I'm canceling class tomorrow. Dammit.

Dr. Phil