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Powerful Storm Departs Michigan On The Solstice

Posted at 9:35 PM, Dec 21, 2012
and last updated 2012-12-21 21:40:48-05

A powerful winter storm that tore through most of the Midwest and through the Great Lakes continue to press off into the Northeast United States. The system produced blizzard conditions and 10 to 20 inches of snow from Nebraska, to Iowa, to Wisconsin. Most locations around West Michigan only tabulated one to three inches, with some slightly higher amounts occurring across our extreme northern counties. In fact, the highest snow total in our immediate area was in Big Rapids with 4.2 inches.

The real threat was the powerful winds that filtered in behind the low pressure system Thursday night into Friday. Our forecast models were showing 50 to 60 mile per hour wind gusts days in advance, and that’s exactly what we saw. The highest wind speed actually occurred in South Haven at 71 mph. Holland had a gust of 63 mph. Muskegon 61 mph, St. Joseph/Benton Harbor 60 mph, and most other locations between 40 and 55 mph. Remember, a 74 mph wind is hurricane strength…so these were indeed very strong with highs waves on Lake Michigan. The attached photo was posted on our FOX 17 Facebook page by Sara Simmons at Holland State Park.

Breezy conditions will remain Through Saturday, but the winds will not be nearly as strong. A cooler, more seasonable airmass will settle into the region with highs the next several days in the low to mid 30s at best. This weekend looks great with plenty of sunshine and quiet, uneventful conditions. Get the complete forecast at www.fox17online.com/weather.

For those of us that may not have realized it, December 21 is the shortest day of the year. Only nine hours in length, compare that to one of the longest days of more than 15 hours in June. The 21st is commonly referred to as the winter solstice…the point at which the sun is farthest south of the equator as it gets all year. This is the start of the summer season for the southern hemisphere, and the start of our winter season here in the northern hemisphere. It’s nice to know the sun now begins its track back to the north and the days will begin getting longer. We’ll add a minute or so each day over the next couple months. You can click here for more information on the solstice.

Have a great weekend and a very enjoyable holiday season. Meteorologist Kevin Craig!