HOUGHTON – Even with advances in technology, it’s important to get weather reports from people on the ground.

Matt Zika, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Negaunee, spoke with about 20 people interested in providing weather updates at a conference in Houghton on Tuesday.

Locally, radar reports may be incomplete due to “Shadow of Keweenaw.” The radar beam should be directed over the Huron Mountains, northwest of the Negaunee office. As a result, it will rise above the snow cloud tops.

A storm depositing 2 or 3 inches of snow per hour may not show up on radar. This is where the observers come in.

“We take that information, we compare it to what we see on radar, we include the reports in one of our successive weather warnings, and people are more likely to respond to those weather warnings when they hear something. something is already happening with the storm,” he said.

When providing weather reports, the most important information is what, when and where – for example, a quarter-sized hail at 8:25 p.m. in Houghton.

“A lot of times we get real time, people take pictures of hail falling on their patio, and they give a location where they are,” Zika said. “Nothing is more valuable than actually seeing what the person is actually going through.”

As the climate warms, more extreme weather events are becoming more frequent, Zika said. The upper peninsula is increasingly hot and humid. Of the 12 hottest years recorded at the station since 1960, nine have occurred since 2000, Zika said.

This does not apply to all months at all levels. In 19 of the past 20 months of September, temperatures have been above normal, Zika said. During the same period, April or May temperatures were below normal 15 times.

“I think we can all remember here over the last 10 or 15 years, a couple of crazy April snowstorms and a couple of lousy Aprils in terms of temperature,” Zika said.

Although there wasn’t much snow accumulation in April, there was measurable snowfall for 15 of the 30 days, Zika said.

Growing seasons, measured by the distance between the last spring frost and the first fall frost, are also getting longer.

Precipitation has rebounded from drought conditions seen in the early 2000s. From 2000 to 2011, the bureau experienced a precipitation deficit of approximately 14 to 15 inches combined. Over the past decade, he’s seen 52 inches accumulated above the normal amount.

Although not usually at Father’s Day flood level, intense rains become more frequent in the summer.

“It’s not just a local trend that only happens here on the Upper Peninsula or the upper Great Lakes,” Zika said. “It’s all over the country. So we have more instances of these thunderstorms occurring during the summer that produce these 2 to 5 inch rain events over a two to three hour period, which then cause problems.

In a recent example in Marquette County, 4 inches of rain in the space of an hour caused a washout on County Road 510 between Negaunee and Big Bay.

For about 10 years, the NWS has sent wireless emergency alerts of severe weather events. Until two years ago, only tornado or flash flood warnings generated an automatic advisory. Since then, they’ve also added a top-tier category for severe thunderstorms that have 80 mph winds and/or baseball-sized hail.

A marginal flash flood does not generate an automatic alert. This is reserved for situations where the NWS anticipates “considerable or catastrophic damage” like the one seen at Houghton in 2018, Zika said.

With winter finally over (assuming it does no harm), Zika also presented snowfall totals for the region. The Delaware measuring station recorded the UP high at 326.6 inches, followed by Painesdale at 282.6 and Hancock-Quincy at 193.4. The NWS office in Negaunee recorded 204.7 inches, while downtown Marquette only received 106.

They measure every six hours and clean their snowboard after each measurement. Many weather watchers get readings once a day, when the snow is compacting, Zika said.

Even weather professionals can be stymied by strong winds.

“In these cases, we’re walking around the parking lot trying to figure out when the plow last came and, and some areas that would maybe give us a representative measure of what happened,” Zika said.

Reports can be submitted to the National Weather Service in several different ways:

By phone at 1-800-828-8002

On the web at weather.gov/mqt

On Facebook at NWSMarquette

Using the mPING app

On Twitter @NWSMarquette

By emailing [email protected]

By amateur radio at WX8MQT

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