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!
Glad you got away with only as much damage/inconvenience as you got, Kathy. There are “micro-climates” like that around here, too, and I recall them in the Spokane area. Difference in proximity to water, differences in height, angle of valleys in relation to prevailing wind directions….. Life is never dull.
Here in the Seattle area we can drive an hour out of our legendary cold dark wet winter, and be on the other side of the Cascades in winter sun. In the summer, the temp difference east and west of the Cascades can be more than 20 degrees. So, we have a lot of choices, LOL!!!!
They are like micro-climates, OM. Like you say, difference in proximity to water, elevation, valleys, wind. It is always interesting that such a compressed area can have such differences. Would love to visit your Cascades, OM.
Oh, by height I meant elevation….
What an unsettling night you have been through! So pleased to hear that you have weathered the storm and the power has returned…weather is such a fickle things, we have similar extemes here at times (minus the snow!).
Take extra care when you decide to venture into the woods…we can all wait for the photos, your safety comes first!
It was an unsettling couple of days, Joanne. We weathered the storm and now it’s back to much calmer weather. I did venture out to take photos this morning. Wanted to show everyone the trees which fell.
Sending strength and courage as you find
what you find in the aftermath……
Holding on to you and your loved ones and your
We found many fallen trees, fountainpen. It’s not the first time this has happened. It is always sad to see all the fallen warriors.
If I knew back then what I know now, I would’ve become a meterologist (or perhaps a geologist) – it’s fascinating how all the varied pieces interlock and create such furious beauty!
A “furious” beauty! Cindy Lou, that is so true. We could have been meterologists…and maybe we might now more about the way this all fits together.
Oh how I wish I could see what the winds left for me in town. I don’t have nearly the amount of trees that you do, but there is more there than I can count. George Hite in Eagle Harbor said the gusts and waves on Keweenaw Bay were nothing compared to what the West side of the Peninsula saw. I have a feeling like the high ground in the middle of the peninsula shot the winds up and you ended up at the bottom of the roller coaster hill with the wind rushing through at full force. I think you have been awarded another stripe on you 30 year old Yooper uniform.
John, I don’t suspect you would see many downed trees in town. I drove to town this afternoon and didn’t see much disrupted in L’Anse. I heard the wind gusts were bad on Keweenaw, but the wind was mostly coming from the south and not the west–like it usually does. Do you think we should get another stripe? Laughing…we’ve been through a lot in 30+ years!
Storms are all that you describe, unpredictable and sometimes way too exciting! Our weatherman here in Connecticut was so preoccupied with telling us all the statistics from your storm that he didn’t get around to forecasting our weather! He also compared it to a hurricane.
Trees and people have a lot in common, we all weather life’s storms a little differently depending on our unique strengths and weaknesses. I enjoyed reading your storm reflections and I love the picture from last October. It reminds me of when we went on a hike once during a gentle October snowfall…
I’m glad you and your loved ones fared well!
Really? They compared our storm to a hurricane? The energy around here was amazing. It was so strong and wild and unpredictable.
I had a call last night from a neighbor–actually, the caretaker of a 90 year old neighbor–wondering when the power would come back on. I hope, for her sake, that she has electricity now.
It was spitting snow this morning. I think. Or else it was sleet. Wonder when that first snow will come? It often comes in October.
That was really, really interesting information, but oh-so-scary that you’re right in the middle of it – yowza! The sound of trees crashing to the ground all around you through the night would be extremely unsettling! We’ve got wind — big, bad, wind — but NOTHING compared to what you’re experiencing!
For some reason, Laurie, I wasn’t scared. At all. Isn’t that odd? You would think trees crashing to the ground would equate with fear. I guess I am confident that the big trees won’t crash on the house. Barry is really good at keeping the really big ones (that might hit the house) cut down.
I’m so grateful that I live on a barren hill, though the force of the winds were felt fiercely. I am terrifed of wind and tree mixes from all the years of living in Florida. During hurricanes and lightning storms, trees regularly fell in our back yard and landed on our roof. I used to stay awake all night watching them from my bedroom window, as if in the watching, I could prevent their falling.
Yet, the wind itself, I love, love! So cleansing.
I’m grateful that you are safe and that you took the time to write today, so beautifully … and, also, informatively. Here’s to a night of peace, Mother Nature resting ….
I wonder, Susan, if you would have been afraid if you were sleeping in Kiah’s bedroom at our house? I wasn’t scared at all. Don’t know if that is stupidity or what.
I guess I am confident that Barry prunes the big ones that would fall on the house. However, if the oak tree ever falls…yikes…that would not be good.
Glad to hear all is well for you.
I love the “wind” picture – great perspective.
Now I have that song in my head!
Gordon Lightfoot was a favorite of my mom’s when I was kid.
Karen, you know we were singing this yesterday, right? I guess the barometric pressure was lower this week than the week when the Edmund Fitzgerald sunk. Quite a low pressure system.
Upper Michigan: so would that be Um? Um the winds are up. Um snow is in the forecast. Sorry. Didn’t get a lot of sleep last night and I think it’s showing.
Seriously, I am glad you survived the storm without major problems.
Ha ha…Um? No one has ever called it Um before! It’s always the U.P. I’m glad the storm passed without major problems too, Carol.
Glad you’re all ok! No snow yet..?
Dawn, it does seem like the snow is a little late this year! Where is it?? I suspected that it was spitting snow yesterday. And then again this morning. But it was at that in-between stage and you really could not discern properly.
I’ll admit to being so relieved to hear that all was OK! There was something about that storm that felt very strange….even living on the other side of the country. Whatever that was all about 🙂
We also have a large number of different geographical and micro-climate variations where we live…..all smooshed together in a relatively small area. Our Bay and your Lakes seem to have many similarities in that way.
So glad that it is over and all is well….and that you had light!! I love that story.
Colleen, maybe I should have written it in an easier manner, not to alarm the readers? It WAS a strange storm. Spooky. At least where we and our poplars swayed in the wind… Thank you for caring!
Kathy I can so relate to weather being different just a few miles apart. This happens on our little island all the time because we are on the cusp of where the weather currents change direction. I am not a fan of high winds. When they get up to about 40 km an hour I am awake. At 70 – 80km my nerves could dance on the end of a pinhead. Glad you are okay even though you lost a few trees – which is always heartbreaking.
It is so fascinating, because we think weather in one little area should be the same. Yet even on one little island, it is different. I don’t know exactly how strong 40 km winds are…but 60 mph winds are scary. It is sad to lose those trees. Yet in some strange way it feels exhiliarating when you’re in the midst of the crashing trees.
The weather predictors were totally off for my area. We waited for the strong winds, falling trees and snow… but, they never came. Just lots of clouds and some rain. We spent the entire time in the eye of the cyclone (that is what it looked like on weather maps) … barometric pressures were never that low … ever. We have the new record low … 27.2 (I think that is accurate) … it was a strange time.
That is odd thinking about you in the eye of the cyclone. How calm it must have been versus for those of us out on the fringes. 27.2 is so very low for the barometric pressure. I am wondering if our bodies somehow registered the drop with strange moods or feelings? Hmmm….