A storm is a strange creature. It blows into our lives, sometimes unexpectedly, sometimes creating tumultuous havoc as it roars through.
Its winds blow through the land without rhyme or reason. In one swath of forest it topples trees like matchsticks. In another woods–perhaps only five miles away–the trees stand steadfast, like rocky sentinels, refusing to buckle under the pounding winds. The roots hold firm. The storm passes with only a few fallen branches as collateral.
What heralds such a storm? Yesterday, the barometer dropped to a near-record low in these parts. The Edmund Fitzgerald sank in 1975 during a deep barometric pressure drop to 28.05. One Chicago newspaper predicted yesterday: The storm will be a cyclone, with projected central pressure, a measure of its strength, forecast to be 28.35 inches. That would make it the second most severe system to strike the Great Lakes, according to the weather service. National Weather Service meteorologist Chris Franks said that the area of lowest pressure is somewhat like the eye of a hurricane in that the winds are strongest some distance from it.
Yesterday the barometric pressure in Upper Michigan plummeted and the winds rose. The winds blew fiercely from the warm south, whipping trees and frothing the lake. Rain poured. Trees fell on electrical wires creating power outages for many. As of this morning, 6,400 were without power in Escanaba, Houghton, Iron River, Ishpeming and Munising. Click here to read the TV 6 story.
USA Today shares more information about barometric pressure:
The highest barometric pressure ever recorded on Earth was 32.01 inches, measured in Agata, U.S.S.R., on December 31, 1968. Agata is located in northern Siberia. The weather was clear and very cold at the time, with temperatures between -40° and -58°.
The lowest pressure ever measured was 25.69 inches, set on Oct. 12, 1979, during Typhoon Tip in the western Pacific Ocean. The measurement was based on an instrumental observation made from a reconnaissance aircraft.
When people listen to the national news, hearing stories about storm-related havoc, they automatically assume that everyone in the stormy area experiences similar circumstances.
Nothing can be farther from the truth!
Last night, Nancy, a friend and blog-reader, who lives five miles away read my blog to her husband. She couldn’t believe that the winds sounded so much stronger across the bay at our house. The winds were strong at her house, surely–but few trees fell in her woods all night.
We spoke of this today. She also lives in the woods, but her trees are primarily maple. Our 23 acres contains many poplar trees at their pinnacle of growth. These aspen are ready to snap or topple easily when the winds blow fiercely. They are big aspen: stretching 90 feet into the sky.
Thus, when storms blow through our area, those of us living with mature poplar trees experience the crashing and falling of our tree brethren. Maples, oaks, spruce, ash and other species are more likely to remain rooted and steadfast as the winds howl.
In winter, when lake-effect snow piles high outside our windows, huge differences in measurements can exist between locales. Areas in-land might experience two feet of heavy, wet snow while our shoreline receives six inches. Sometimes we burrow under a foot of snow, while Marquette (90 miles away) gets an inch. You never know.
Temperature experiences similar variations. In the springtime it’s common for L’Anse to shiver in 48 degree temperatures while we folks along the Huron Bay bask at 68 degrees. A ten degree temperature difference is not unusual. We drive to town in short sleeves–if we forget–and shiver in the wind off the lake while finishing our shopping.
It sounds like many areas of the country experienced crazy weather during the last couple of days. I hope everyone is safe. I hope we move more gently into autumn…that nature settles down and the barometric pressure arises.
No trick or treats now, Mother Nature!
P.S. Thanks again to all the commenters who left such thoughtful well-wishes yesterday! Our power was only out for twelve hours; it came back on about 12:30 a.m. Wind gusts blew up to 60 mph. We heard trees crashing to the ground all night. The winds are dying down this afternoon; hopefully the power will stay on.
Sorry no current storm photos. I am still nervous about going out in the woods to take photos of downed trees. Maybe tomorrow!