Patrick Powell

Lake Enhanced Snowfall

February 27th, 2013 at 5:07 pm by under Weather

Lake Michigan played a huge role in burying the lakeshore in snow last night and early today. The computer models are called guidance and most of the time they guide you in the right direction, but it is the meteorologists that make the forecast. When I made this forecast I knew that there would be lake enhanced snow along the lakeshore, but I had under-forecast the intensity and amounts.

The graphic above is the NAM model snowfall forecast from yesterday. The greens indicate 4-6 inches.Above is the GFS model from yesterday. Again, the greens are indicating 4-6 inches.

Above is the Hi Resolution WRF snowfall forecast from yesterday. The blues and yellows are indicating only 2-4 inches along the lakeshore.


The occluded storm system that brought the snow to the area gave the computer models fits for days. Despite the large scale struggles the computer models did a good job for Green Bay and the Fox Cities. For most of us, wind was the main impact, but the snow was a huge issue right along the lakeshore.

This is my snowfall forecast from yesterday. I anticipated the models were under forecasting the snow along the lakeshore because of the RPM model that is produced by our weather product vendor. It is a high resolution model that we show on tv often.

This is the reality of what fell around the area from snow reports today. The computer models were all terrible on the location and intensity of the lake enhancement. The privately produced RPM model, significantly outperformed the standard US model suite. That is a regular occurrence so I wasn’t surprised by that. But even the RPM had the heaviest snow south of Sheboygan and mainly centered on Milwaukee.

Please understand that I know where the problem lies. I am going to start initializing and running our own in house microcast computer model that concentrates on Lake Michigan and the surrounding shoreline counties and the bayshore. The lake is a huge factor in the weather around here and the major computer models are not handling this feature well enough. A high resolution model might help us here at FOX 11 significantly improve our lakeside forecasting and the process of creating the model has already begun.



Winter Storm Denise Snowfall Totals

January 30th, 2013 at 9:06 pm by under Weather


This post is to give everyone an update on the snow reports around northeast Wisconsin from Winter Storm Denise and to compare the forecast with what actually occurred. Overall I feel that we did a good job of forecasting but there were areas that we could have done better. The first graphic is my forecast from yesterday at 5 PM. This was the first snowfall forecast that we made at FOX 11 for the storm. I think that we had the right idea, but I was reluctant to go any higher with amounts. With a transitional deformation type snow event that included a change from rain to sleet to snow and initially had a wet ground I felt that a little of the snow would melt on contact and the initial wet nature would allow some compacting.

As the snow intensity increased and the banding developed by late morning I updated the forecast to the second graphic, with the 8-11 inch band over the Fox Valley. With falling temperatures, not only did we get better snowflakes but also better snow ratios. For a 4 hour period this afternoon we pick up snow at 1 inch per hour! Pretty impressive snowfall rates. By lunchtime today we had a great idea of what was happening, but we were also half way through the snowfall. The banding with this storm was a little more intense and lasted a little longer than I thought it would.


Overall though, the forecast worked out well, and here are the specific snowfall totals from today.


Since posting this story we have had a few snow reports that need to be updated.

They are Sturgeon Bay 8.0″, Fond du Lac 6.0″, Clintonville 7.5″,  Gillett 8.0″,  New London 8.0″.






















Lack of Snow Along the Lakeshore

December 20th, 2012 at 7:35 pm by under Weather

I am sorry that it took a while to get this to social media but my television responsibilities come first. We have been numerous comments on my snow forecast from yesterday. Basically everyone away from Lake Michigan thinks we did an excellent job, while the people right along the Lakeshore think we were pretty bad. Before I try to explain what was good and bad, let me say that the Lakeshore counties will be getting snow overnight.

I have dropped the amounts I am forecasting, but there should be accumulation as the wind direction changes and the temperature drops a little. The temperature drop will also help lead to more blowing snow overnight. Most of the area will continue with accumulating snow and strong winds that will gust over 40 mph through about 1 AM for central sections and through 4 AM along the Lakeshore. This is the updated forecast for total snowfall.

I am expecting snow to continue early tonight and most of the area will get 2-4 additional inches after 7 PM tonight. Including the lakeshore, due to falling temps and changing wind direction. What had hurt the snowfall totals within a few miles of Lake Michigan was a combination of wind direction, warm lake waters, and temperatures that were close for snow already. With the storm center passing to our south, we had Northeast winds off the lake for much of the day. Lake Michigan is at roughly 44 degrees right now and with the winds over the lake it helps warm the lowest levels of the atmosphere a few degrees. From what I saw, temperatures along the lakeshore where about 2 degrees warmer than the rest of the area all day long. That 2 degrees was enough to keep the precipitation as a rainy mix. While it was heavy snow in Fond du Lac at 34 degrees, there was a rainy mix in Manitowoc at 36 degrees and a snowy mix in Sturgeon Bay and Marinette at 35 degrees. If the lowest few hundred feet of the atmosphere had not been slightly warmed by Lake Michigan, Manitowoc would have around 11 inches of snow. Obviously, Manitowoc doesn’t have much in the way of snow at all.


This is the temperature profile from this afternoon in Green Bay…..

I highlighted the Freezing line in blue, the temperature profile of the atmosphere is in red. You can easily tell that it was snow falling, but the snow was melting in the final few hundred feet along the lakeshore, below the black line I drew in. I thought that the lakeshore would mix at the start, at least the first few hours, then switch over as the intensity of the snow increased. This happens often enough that I was expecting it. Reality is that the warm lake waters kept the lakeshore as a mix, and that will not change until the wind direction turns to the north or northwest. That wind shift is already occuring, so please have a little patience. You will get some snow tonight, but more than half of my forecasted snow fell as a 35 degree rainy mix today.

December 8th, 2011 at 7:17 pm by under Weather

The last time the Oakland Raiders came to town was December 9, 2007. I remember this game clearly, because I was there and it was really, really cold! When talking the other day, Tom remembered how terribly cold it was for an Oakland game in the 1993 season. So I decided to do a little investigating. The Raiders have played Green Bay 11 times, the first time was Super Bowl II in 1968 and 10 times since. Only 2 of those times have been in the month of December and in Green Bay. The game in 2007 felt awful because of the wind, especially before the game. By game time the winds were subsiding but it was still cold with a temperature of 19° at kickoff and a Wind Chill of 8. The game on December 26, 1993 was even colder. Kickoff temperature was 1° and the Wind Chill was near -18. Both of these were Noon games. Luckily for Oakland the game Sunday will be much warmer than either of those games with a high around 37°. There are two more home games this year. On Christmas the Bears come to town for a Sunday night game, and on New Years Day the Lions come to Lambeau for the regular season finale. I would think that both of those games will be much colder than what the Raiders see this weekend, especially when we get a good snowcover around Green Bay!














Winter Storm Bella

January 17th, 2011 at 3:35 pm by under Weather

Snow around the area becoming more showery, less consistent. Look for Snow Showers from Winter Storm Bella through about 7 or 8 PM in Green Bay and Appleton, the snow will hang tough along the southern lakeshore. After the snow showers end we will see Mostly Cloudy skies with a few flurries and slippery streets during the overnight. About another 1/2 – 1 inch of snow expected in Green Bay and Appleton, maybe as much as another 2 inches around Sheboygan. Stay tuned for updates on FOX 11 and

December 10th, 2010 at 7:02 pm by under Weather

Snow will develop Saturday around the area. The intensity of the snow will increase in the afternoon and snow will continue Saturday night and into Sunday. As the snow weakens Sunday morning the winds will increase with gusts that could approach 45 or 50 mph. That combined with the fresh snow may cause near Blizzard conditions in portions of the area. This storm needs to be watched closely, because the amounts I have forecast here, may need to be tweaked upward especially if the storm slows at all. Keep it tuned to FOX 11 and follow me on Facebook. I will be working along with Andrew and Doug on Saturday to keep you informed.

Check out the Snow Forecast!

Very Wet Weather

September 22nd, 2010 at 4:46 pm by under Weather

Showers, Thunderstorms and very heavy rainfall will be moving through the area tonight, tomorrow, and tomorrow night. A vigorous fall storm system will be working toward the U.P. and pulling lots of moisture northward as it moves across Wisconsin. There are Flood Watches for the northern parts of our area through Friday Morning, as those locations could see between 2.00 and 4.00 inches of rain. Most of our area will see between 1.00 and 2.00 inches, much of that coming down tonight and tomorrow morning. The storm system moves out on Friday and windy, cooler weather returns.

July 26th, 2010 at 5:57 pm by under Weather

As most of you know we set a record for July rainfall in Green Bay last week. But with some more storms over the weekend we continue to add to that total. So far, for July we are about 3 times average and more than 7 times what we had last year. It didn’t just begin in July though, this pattern has been here all summer.

Since June 1st we have picked up more than double the average precipitation. Compared to last year we have had more than 4 times as much. The 15.00″ inches of rain we have received in the last 8 weeks, is more than half of our average for the whole year! WOW!

Two Dry Days!

July 12th, 2010 at 4:13 pm by under Weather


Clouds have been dissipating around the area this afternoon and Dew Points are starting to drop. Slightly cooler and less humid tomorrow with high pressure in control. We haven’t seen many streaches of dry weather this summer, but one is now here. We will still see some scattered thunderstorms this week on Wednesday night and Thursday morning, but the rest of the week will be dry! Since June 1st we have seen 10.53″ of rain in Green Bay and the average for that time is only 4.65″. That is more than double what we typically see, and we are about 4 inches above average for the year so far.

Mount Redoubt, Alaska

May 5th, 2009 at 8:45 pm by under Weather

Mount Redoubt Camera

Mount Redoubt in Alaska will likely erupt soon. To geologists, soon means in a few minutes or in the next few years. But judging by the wording used by the AVO (Alaskan Volcano Observatory) it could be the next few days.

Here is the latest update from the AVO this afternoon “Seismic activity remains at an elevated level at Redoubt Volcano, and the lava dome in the summit crater continues to grow. An explosive event due to dome collapse, from instability of the growing dome, or due to internal depressurization could occur at any time. An explosion may produce a high altitude (>30,000 ft ASL) ash plume, trace to minor ash fall in parts of south-central Alaska, lahars in the Drift River valley, and pyroclastic flows in the immediate vicinity of the volcano. AVO continues 24/7 operations and is monitoring the situation closely.”

The use of “explosive event” and “instabilaty of a growing lava dome” is pretty strong wording for volcanologists, and it appears they are anticipating something fairly intense and in short order. One of the webicorders (siesmigraphs) on the flank of the mountain has been showing nearly constant rumbling with some larger spikes. This is generally interpreted as magma (lava) moving up toward the surface, and the AVO has also been monitoring the growth of the lava dome. The AVO does an outstanding job of tracking the volcanoes across Alaska and this volcano is being extensively documented.

On a side note, volcanism especially in the high latitudes can have an impact on weather throughout the northern hemisphere. The size of the eruption will determine the amount of impact, but a VEI (Volcano Explosivity Index) 6 would have a definite cooling impact on Wisconsin for about a year and would likely create extrodinary sunsets through the summer. Mount Redoubt is a stratovolcano and has had a few major eruptions in the past. Smithsonian Weekly Volcano Report It is also worth noting that there are currently 26 Volcanoes worldwide in some state of eruption. Nearly all are weak at this time and that is not unusual, included in that list of 26 is Chaiten in Chile which initially erupted last year with an explosive outburst.