NWS Media Seminar Focuses On Some West Michigan Changes

Posted at 4:51 PM, May 04, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-04 16:51:05-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The National Weather Service held their semi-annual media seminar on Saturday. This is a time when many of the broadcast meteorologists from around the area brainstorm ideas, thoughts, and suggestions on how we can all work together collectively to streamline things and communicate information to the public.

While I’ve been attending these seminars for the past 12 years, many great things have come out of them. There was extensive talk about the recent flooding West Michigan just dealt with and how we (collectively) handled the plethora of information (and sometimes the lack thereof) filtering in to all outlets. It’s interesting to note that while we also had major to record flooding in 1904 – 1905, 1947 – 1948, 1985 – 1986, that history could repeat itself with record flooding in BOTH 2013 and perhaps again in 2014? Preliminary numbers reveal the flood of 2013 will cost about 30 million dollars statewide.

For those of us that pay attention to the buoys on Lake Michigan, the Holland buoy will be moved to Port Sheldon in the next week for the next three years. The goal is better observation of varying flows on the lake. We also learned that Michigan Tech will deploy a doppler radar on wheels to either Grand Haven or Holland to help study and observe currents this summer. The program is being referred to as the Beach Hazard Detection Project.

Perhaps something a bit more exciting that hits closer to home is the NWS Beach Hazard Forecast that came out last year by our local (Grand Rapids) weather service. You’ve also seen these on FOX 17 all last summer highlighting wave height, currents, water temperature, and specific beach hazards along the lakeshore. The program is now being adopted by NWS offices like Chicago, North Webster – Indiana, Gaylord, and Marquette. Again…the expansion is based on the Grand Rapids product (developed in 2012) that generally runs between the biggest holidays of Memorial Day and Labor Day. The effort is to highlight swimming/boating/beach risks such as structural currents, breaking waves, long-shore currents, rip currents, and wave motion. The idea is to keep people better informed and save lives. FOX 17 will, once again, continue the trend of helping to keep everyone safe and informed with these Beach Hazard Forecasts!

Make sure to click over to for the complete West Michigan forecast! Enjoy the weekend.