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Arctic Air Grips West Michigan; Fun Stats & Side Effects

Posted at 8:08 AM, Jan 28, 2014
and last updated 2014-01-28 08:08:59-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Grand Rapids set a record low temperature Tuesday morning, with Arctic air forecast to keep control of the region through early Wednesday.

The temperature just after 2:00 A.M. dipped to -9° at the Ford Airport, beating the old record low of -8° set way back in 1966.  With winds from the west/southwest, wind chills made it feel more like the teens below zero in G.R.

Further to the south, air temperatures dropping to -10° to -15° caused wind chill readings of -30° or colder south of I-94 at times.  Here are some of the morning lows officially recorded around the area:

  • Grand Rapids: -9°
  • Muskegon: 4°
  • Holland: 3°
  • Kalamazoo: -13°
  • Battle Creek: -11°
  • Fremont: -9°
  • South Haven: 3°
  • Three Rivers: -14°
  • Big Rapids: -9°
  • Leota (Clare County): -25°

Wind chills will stay below zero throughout the day Tuesday, with air temperatures that likely won’t get back into the double digits until at least midday Wednesday.  Some light lake-effect snow flurries may increase a bit in the afternoon and evening, and continue through early Wednesday with accumulations staying at most an inch or two along the lakeshore.

The bitterly cold air does have a couple of interesting side effects — many people in West Michigan reported seeing light pillars, a phenomenon that made some think there were UFOs coming!  And in some areas, rising smoke or steam from houses was hitting a strong temperature inversion just above the surface and flattening out, creating a thin layer of haze just above the rooftops.

As of Monday, Grand Rapids officially measured 18″ of snow on the ground at the airport, a mark that is reached only rarely.  The last time it happened was February of 2011; before then, it hadn’t occurred since January of 1999.  In fact, this is only the 7th time in the last 50 years that we’ve seen a snow depth 18″ or more:

  • January 27-31, 1978
  • January 13-30, 1979
  • February 12-20, 1985
  • January 6-8, 1999
  • January 12-15, 1999
  • February 2-4, 2011
  • January 27-?, 2014

A bit more snow is in the forecast for Thursday; you can see that and the rest of the 7 Day Forecast on the Weather page.