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Warmer Air Means Rain & Melting Snow

We’re starting off our workweek with mostly sunny skies Monday morning before increasing cloud cover takes hold this afternoon ahead of a cold front. Look for highs around freezing. A few showers are possible late Monday night into Tuesday morning as this cold front passes. Given the drier atmosphere in place, rainfall should be under 0.1”. Mostly cloudy skies will be in place for Tuesday once any lingering showers end. A bit of clearing is possible Wednesday. Highs both Tuesday and Wednesday will be in the 40s. As we approach the end of the week, a low pressure system forms in the south-central US and is forecast to move into the Great Lakes bringing gulf moisture with it. Model data points to the possibility of rainfall on the front end of this system starting Thursday morning. Gulf moisture means that near or above ½” of rainfall is possible by the time all is said and done. Currently it looks like this system will bring plenty of warm air with it meaning we’ll see rain for Thursday but we’re close enough to the cooler air we can’t rule out wintry precipitation near Mount Pleasant completely, especially at night. Highs will be in the low-40s.

While we enjoy the 40s for the first half of the week, winter creeps in once again for the weekend. On Friday, a second system looks to impact the area. There is a chance of snow associated with a low pressure system on Friday. While details on Friday’s snow chances are currently somewhat murky, there is more certainty when it comes to our temperatures. Highs on Friday will be in the low 30s, with the low temperature Friday dipping down into the teens. By Saturday, a cold front will have swept through the area, bringing our high temperature to the low 20s with lows once again in the teens. Temperature wise, look for more of the same on Sunday, with highs once again being in the low 20s and lows dipping down into the upper teens. Both Saturday and Sunday, partly to mostly cloudy conditions are expected.

Was Snow Lacking in January or was it just Warm?

As we look back at the statistics for the month of January, the results prove temperatures were much warmer than normal while snowfall was near normal. This snowfall stat may seem surprising, considering most of the month, there was no snow on the ground. In fact, between January 1st and 25th, there was either no snow on the ground or it melted very quickly. The snowfall event right at the end of the month allowed snow to pile up with only a few days to spare. On January 29th, the maximum snow depth for the month was reached at 6”. The total snow accumulation for the month ended up being 10.3”. All observed snowfall data comes from the south side of Central Michigan University’s campus, where a brand new manual precipitation measurement site was installed in late December directly next to the automated CMU weather station. Meteorology students stop by this location each morning to measure any rain and/or snow that has fallen during the prior 24 hours and report the data to The closest climate data site available on is Alma, MI, which reveals the normal snowfall during the month of January is 10.7”, so all things considered, snowfall amounts observed throughout the month as a whole were typical.

Staying in the local area and using this new data available on CMU’s campus, it has been discovered that 2.29” of liquid precipitation (rain and melted snow) fell during the month of January. Although a perfect observation for what would be “normal” during the month of January does not exist, we can fill in the gaps of limited observations by using nearby reliable observations and running the PRISM climate mapping system. This allows us to estimate a historical “normal” for any given location, even if there is not a rain gauge with daily measurements for 30 years straight available at that location. This is a neat feature available to CoCoRaHs observers. The result of this model reveals that an estimate of 2.09” of precipitation typically falls over CMU during the month of January, which further provides perspective that this year (January 2023) was 0.2” wetter than “normal.”

What the most substantial anomaly was during the month of January was the temperature departure from normal. Central Michigan was 8 to 9 degrees warmer than normal. As a result, there is no question that it was an unusually very warm month, which likely contributed to the difficulty in preventing snow from melting. Furthermore, with no snow on the ground because of the melting, temperatures can also stay warmer as well, since snow has a much higher albedo than grass or dirt. This high albedo means that snow reflects sunlight and does not absorb much warmth in general, which means it becomes colder outside when there is snow on the ground versus when the ground is bare. All in all, the month of January was much warmer than normal, while also experiencing generally near normal precipitation and snowfall.

What is the Wind Chill?

Overnight Friday, news broke that the Mount Washington Observatory experienced wind chills below -100°F, while here in Mount Pleasant, wind chills fell to -15°F. But what is the wind chill, and how is it measured? The wind chill, and its warm-weather equivalent, the heat index, are apparent temperatures, sometimes called “feels-like” temperatures. The wind chill value is based on two factors: the actual temperature and the wind speed. The human body produces heat, which, when the wind is calm, envelopes the body in a thin layer of warm air. When the wind blows, it moves this layer of warm air away from the body, replacing it with cooler air. This cooler air causes the body to cool as well. When the wind is faster and the temperature is colder, this process happens more quickly. This prevents the body from building its warm air layer and causes it to cool. Wearing cold-weather gear, like an insulated coat, prevents this from happening by trapping the body’s heat against the skin.

The Wind Chill Chart from the National Weather Service, included below, shows the wind chill based on how strong the winds are and how cold the air is. The NWS issues wind chill advisories when wind chills are expected to reach below -15°F and wind chill warnings when wind chills are below -25°F, where wind chills can become dangerous to people and animals. Wind chill watches are issued when wind chills are expected to reach -25°F but are not there yet. So, how did the wind chills at the Mount Washington Observatory get so low? It all comes down to wind speed and temperature! Temperatures at the summit of Mount Washington have been in the -40s, with winds near 100MPH, which caused the wind chill to fall past -100°F, making Mount Pleasant seem downright tropical in comparison.

Mt. Pleasant Almanac for This Week:

February 6th

Normal High/Low: 30°/15°

Record High: 49° 1991

Record Low: -11° 1899

Sunrise: 7:50AM

Sunset: 5:57PM

February 7th

Normal High/Low: 30°/15°

Record High: 49° 1904

Record Low: -21° 1899

Sunrise: 7:49AM

Sunset: 5:58PM

February 8th

Normal High/Low: 30°/15°

Record High: 60° 1900

Record Low: -19° 1908

Sunrise: 7:47AM

Sunset: 6:00PM

February 9th

Normal High/Low: 31°/15°

Record High: 57° 1990

Record Low: -26° 1912

Sunrise: 7:46AM

Sunset: 6:01PM

February 10th

Normal High/Low: 31°/16°

Record High: 49° 1966

Record Low: -29° 1899

Sunrise: 7:45AM

Sunset: 6:03PM

February 11th

Normal High/Low: 31°/16°

Record High: 60° 1932

Record Low: -29° 1899

Sunrise: 7:43AM

Sunset: 6:04PM

February 12th

Normal High/Low: 31°/16°

Record High: 67° 1999

Record Low: -26° 1899

Sunrise: 7:42AM

Sunset: 6:05PM

Mid-Mitten Weather View’s Mission is to serve people by providing timely information to help keep you safe and make decisions based on the weather. We are passionate about educating both our forecasters and our followers about how weather forecasting works and how we can be best prepared when impactful weather threatens. Our team consists of both CMU alumni degreed meteorologists and current student forecasters from the University. For daily updates, we welcome you to check out our Facebook Page! We look forward to catching you back here next week for another weekly 7-Day forecast update.

-Weather Forecast by CMU Student Forecasters Isaac Cleland, Scott Thomas, Lauren Harvey, and John Jones.

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