The meteorology behind Tuesday’s violent storms


Tuesday thunderstorm radar and warnings

Usually, when the weather is severe, we wait for it in the afternoon and evening. On Tuesday, the atmosphere was ready for severe weather at 9 a.m. Here, we break down the technical weather configuration.

An altitude wave moved across northern Michigan, creating an impressive dynamic and thermodynamic environment capable of withstanding long-lasting severe thunderstorms. The dynamics in place were typical of a single event that we see every year or two. But with a changing climate, these events are likely to become more frequent.

Thunderstorms began to move across the area around 8 to 9 a.m. These were our first severe thunderstorm warnings on a very active day (yellow boxes).

The storms continued to move east, with the first line around noon dropping quarter pea size hail along the M-55 area, including at 9 & 10 headquarters at Cadillac.

Past storm2

Past storm3

A line of secondary thunderstorms developed upstream of a cold front in a very unstable atmosphere leading to strong to severe thunderstorms. Check out the meteorology below for more detailed information on how the storms developed.

These storms not only brought strong winds, but the winds were turning. However, there have been NO confirmed tornadoes with this line. This was the first of three tornado warnings issued in your area on Tuesday (red box). The warnings were issued because the winds were changing and not because of a tornado spotted on the ground.

Past storm4

The second snapshot took place as the worst damage occurred from the Chase / Baldwin area to Evart. The damage was widespread with broken trees and power lines. Notice the backward “C” shape, which is evident in straight line destructive winds. This cell moved from County Mason to County Clare.

Past storm5

NO tornadoes touched the ground with the severe storms on Tuesday. All damage was associated with straight line winds. Wind reports from area airports came in between 40 and 55 mph. Between airports, winds likely exceeded 60 mph.

The largest hail on record from the event was 2.5 inches in diameter, roughly the size of a tennis ball to put that into perspective. Hail of tennis balls fell in Colfax (Mason County) and Baldwin (Lake County). Cadillac also had a 2 inch diameter hail a mile northeast of town.

Check out photos of Tuesday’s storms here.


Meteorology and synopsis – Data from 4:00 p.m. or 12:00 p.m.

The 500 mb (30,000 ft) jet plunged into lower northwest Michigan, providing improved upward motion to the surface. This led to the regeneration of thunderstorms upstream of a surface cold front and a surface depression. The brighter the blue, the stronger the wind.

16,500 MB

At 850 mb, a jet noticeable at low altitude (maximum wind) was heading towards central Michigan. Upper level data suggests a maximum wind at low altitude between 30 and 40 knots (34 to 46 mph). There was also an increase in humidity to the 850 mb (3000 ft) level. You can see the green will fill Michigan.

16,850 MB

At the surface, an area of ​​low pressure was developing, with a cold front extending south of the low. In front of the front was a very heavy, hot air in place.

Futureview Wide Tracking

The instability was not unusual, but the convective potential energy available (CAPE) rooted to the surface was 1000 to 2000 j / kg. This is sufficient to support organized storms given the good balance between CAPE and shear.

16 Sbcp

Another measure of instability is the mid-level lapse rate. It is the measure of how quickly the temperature changes with height. The higher the number, the faster the air will rise. Note that the mid-level lapse rates were not as impressive as in our west, but still sufficient for the lift and organized severe storms.

16 rounds

The balance of CAPE and shear was in place, this can be noted by the composite parameter Supercell. Notice west-central Michigan. The worst affected area on Tuesday was east of Bullseye.

16 Scp

All the necessary ingredients for inclement weather came together for a few hours late Tuesday morning and early afternoon. A much quieter time is coming! View your 7 day forecast here.

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