They Didn't Ask Me (dr_phil_physics) wrote,
They Didn't Ask Me

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We Made It...

... across another rift in the space-time continuum (DW) on Sunday. We think we're all right, but by the evening it was clear that the sun had moved and was higher in the sky than it was on Saturday.


One thing about not teaching this semester, I don't have to deal with the vernal equinox. Or more specifically, the east-west sunrise/sunsets. Despite my working part-time, given nearly three hours of commuting, there are many semesters where I get to deal with heading east on roads dead into the rising sun. And some schedules I have had to also deal with heading west on roads dead into the setting sun. Oh, I have a clever system to defeat the sun from searing my eyeballs, using an old library catalog card stuck under the lid to the vanity mirror on the driver's sunshade to hang down as an extra shield, but there's a week or two of low sun to deal with in both the Spring and Fall semesters.

It always amazes me that (a) people still drive at full speed directly into the sun and (b) there aren't more terrible accidents.

But... there is sun today. In fact, we're in the middle of a week or more of sunny days. And over the weekend the highs hit 42°F. This week the highs will be from 45°F all the way up to 52°F -- actual temperatures will likely vary from forecasts. (grin) Realize that the low Thursday morning was 0°F and Friday was 8°F. We're likely to have lows than don't get below freezing Real Soon Now.

All this means that there is a great deal of melting going on. I haven't checked the snow totals between last winter and this, but the big difference between 2014 and 2015 was when the extreme cold and snow hit. This year it has been more February than January. So the snow totals have snuck up us. Same with the Great Lakes ice coverage. Subzero weather in February, especially a few nights below zero with little wind, has just sucked the heat out of the lakes. The percentage of ice coverage had jumped from 50% to over 80% in 2½ weeks. "The entire Great Lakes is at 88.8 percent ice coverage, with the highest totals coming from Lake Huron and Lake Erie at about 96 percent ice coverage, according to NOAA. Mar 1, 2015"

That was a week ago.

This week, you can really see how this warmup has affected Lake Michigan:
                  3/8/2015  3/8/2014
Great Lakes        78.5%     90.8%
Lake Superior      89.3%     91.8%
Lake Michigan      48.6% **  92.9%
Lake Huron         91.9%     94.7%
Lake Erie          93.3%     95.3%
Lake Ontario       44.9%     52.1%

** Two weeks ago they were talking about Lake Michigan 
freezing over completely.

Data: The NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory
It's too early to declare this Spring, for sure. And a few days of 40s and 50s do not mean we've seen the last of the weather. But compared to the incessant drubbing that places like Boston have gotten this winter -- or Buffalo when it was still called "autumn" -- West Michigan doesn't have the same level to complain about.

Certainly not the worst in Michigan. The Northern Lower Peninsula has seen lots of sub-zero temperatures. And MLive is circulating a story from the Lansing State Journal marveling about Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie:
You're the president of Lake Superior State University in the U.P., home of the mascot Fog Horn the Sailor. The thermometer outside your ivy tower office reads minus 40. Not wind chill. An actual number of 40 below zero.

Well, a normal person would send out an email blast to the 2,500 hearty souls on campus: Stay Home. No school today.

Not Tom Pleger, who is the president up there in Sault Ste. Marie. He kept the doors wide open open and he reports, with a smile, that students survived. In fact he attests that many of those students come there for the U.P. outdoor experience.

But 40 below? Are they that desperate for that kind of experience?

"Students safely made it to class. Business continued, and we're in the U.P. and we are tough." And that, he indicates, applies to students and faculty alike, including the president.

"I walk to work," the native of Wisconsin reveals, and after telling everyone to wear mittens and bundle up, he crossed the windblown campus and encountered a "student in shorts." Pleger figures it was an athlete just leaving the university gym.


In fact one of those students confided to the president that when he came home from spring break, the temp swing was 130 degrees.
Yeah. Almost forgot. It's Spring Break week for Western Michigan University. (grin)

Oh, and kids? Remember you don't have to specify the temperature scale at -40°. Same for Fahrenheit and Centigrade -- can't happen in the absolute scales of Kelvin and Rankine.

Dr. Phil
Posted on Dreamwidth
Crossposted on LiveJournal
Tags: dst2007, great lakes, weather, west michigan

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