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Joel’s Weather Corner

Graphics & posts made by LHS senior & future meteorologist Joel Fritsma.

12-13-2017 Snow Day Predictions

The Kent County Road Commission should make their way out overnight and plow all the main roads. No question our back roads will remain unplowed, which is why I gave us a 55% of no school for tomorrow. It will be a very close call, but I believe most Kent ISD schools will find a way to remain open for tomorrow. Be ready for a sudden change though. Tune in to our local TV stations for the latest closings!

Prediction: 55% chance of snow day.

Result: NO SCHOOL for 12/14 for LAS.

12-10-2017 – First Snow Day Prediction of the Year

With a chance of freezing drizzle overnight, I’m predicting icy roads for the morning commute but school will remain open tomorrow for the majority of districts in green. However, a snow event bringing another 2-4” of those heavy flakes will move in during school tomorrow!

11-27-2017 Weather Update

Our seasonably average temperatures will continue through the end of the month. At the current moment, the future forecast calls for high temperatures to remain between 40 and 55 degrees between the next ten days. Here is the current forecast by day for the next week:

Tuesday 11-28: A mix of clouds and sun in the morning followed by cloudy skies in the afternoon. Slight chance of a rain shower. Winds SW at 15 to 25 mph. High/Low: 55/33

Wednesday 11-29: Mainly sunny, with winds ENE at 5 to 10 mph. High/Low: 43/32

Thursday 11-30: Rain ending earlier. Breaks of sun expected in the afternoon. Winds WSW at 15 to 25 mph, with a chance of rain near 90%. High/Low: 45/30

Friday 12-1: Mostly sunny skies during the morning hours will become overcast in the afternoon. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph. High/Low: 46/33

Saturday 12-2: Some sun in the morning with increasing clouds during the afternoon. Winds SW at 10 to 15 mph. High/Low: 49/32

Sunday 12-3: Intervals of clouds and sunshine. Winds will remain light and variable. High/Low: 45/37

Monday 12-4: Cloudy skies and breezy conditions. Winds S at 10 to 20 mph. High/Low: 50/42

Chance of a snow day within the next 8-10 days: 0%

Chance of an ice day within the next 8-10 days: 5%

Chance of a miscellaneous closing within the next 8-10 days: < 5%

Stay tuned for another update within the next two weeks, as our wintry weather soon approaches!

11-9-2017 Snowfall Prediction

{BLOG} Severe Thunderstorms & Snow? A crazy November ahead! – 11/2/2017

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  • Washington, IL 2013 – Jessica Koscielniak

Wouldn’t you think I’m crazy if I were to tell you that there’s a chance of severe weather including tornadoes, followed a week later by a snowstorm that could close school for a day or two? Well, actually, you’re probably not thinking that because it’s happened before. You live in Michigan, we’ve experienced as much as a 50 degree drop in a 24 hour span within the past five years. It’s looking to be one of those types of months again.

First off, let me apologize for my absence. School work and fall sports have been my top priorities, but when I heard the words, senioritis my freshman year, I thought I would never catch it. Unfortunately, I did, but don’t fear, I’m here.

To begin, we must look at the weekend ahead. Temperatures will hover around 45 to 50 degrees the next two days, with lows dropping down near freezing overnight. Sunday will be quite a different story. Severe weather is expected to make one last push into Michigan for the year of 2017. Because of the sharp drop off of temperatures that follow fronts during these fall months, this system is expected to be amplified. On top of that, you have lift, instability, and the 50 kt low-level jet over the region this weekend, thus increasing our chances for super cells, and isolated tornadoes. In fact, local weather icon and chief meteorologist Bill Steffen noted that Sunday is shaping up to be like the November tornado outbreak of 2013. This was the fourth largest outbreak on record for the state of Illinois in terms of the number of tornadoes (25). In the next state over, Indiana had their fair share of tornadoes too! On the day, the NWS survey teams ended up identifying 30 tornadoes in the state, which is the second largest amount on any day in Indiana weather history. Overall, between Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee, Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan, there were 70 tornadoes total. The most iconic tornado of that day happened in Illinois. It was known as the Coal City/Washington/Pekin/Dana/Manhattan/Frankfort tornado. The reason why? Well, the super cell that was associated with the system produced not one, not two, but FIVE tornadoes, in it’s lifespan before the storm eventually fizzled out over Lake Michigan… thankfully! All historic information is from the NWS, and if you’d like to read more, the link to the page can be found here: h

Overall, 101 tornado warnings were issued in the state of Illinois by the National Weather Service that day. Closer to home, a weak tornado made it’s way through Newaygo County. Does this mean, it will happen again?!

To be honest, it could. However, the meteorologist at the national weather service in Norman added onto their forecast that there is a chance for morning showers and storms, which, as you may know, kills off the instability for redevelopment in the afternoon. I shall keep my eyes open, especially since I’ll know what categorical outlook range we will be placed in.

As for our snow, it could be here as soon as nine days… well legit snowfall amounts anyways. We’ve seen our lake effect snow already start to kick up, but pretty soon, the low pressure systems will make their rounds across the north hemisphere. This winter overall is expected to be very active. It won’t be as cold, but from time to time we could see the occasional stretch of days where the temperatures drop near zero. Earlier this week, I took the opportunity to create the template for this years snow day predictions. When the predictions begin, you can find them here, on my Snapchat story, or on Twitter which is my name, but with an underscore between it. They are usually released around 9 at night, but can be earlier or later depending on what winter sports are happening.

On average, each winter we usually receive around 40-60 inches of snow, but that amount usually varies because of the lake effect snow bands. This winter, however, will be different. Local news outlets are pointing to signs that some people could see up to 100 inches of snow this winter season. This is more likely for the lakeshore counties, but not rare for us who are further inland. Stay tuned! Our first snow days are just around the corner, but first… a November outbreak.

Friday Night Football Forecast – 10/27/2017

Friday Night Football Forecast – 10/20/2017

Friday Night Football Forecast – 10/13/2017

Red Arrow Forecast – 10/9/2017

Thanks to School News Network for this piece on the Red Arrow report!

Friday Football Forecast – 10/6/2017

Chance of rain for tonight as the Red Arrows head to FHC for an OK White matchup. Go Arrows!

Friday Football Forecast – 9/29/2017


Friday Football Forecast – 9/22/2017

Red Arrow Video Forecast – 9/18/2017

Friday Football Forecast – 9/15/2017

Pink Arrow Forecast – 9-07-2017

Red Arrow Forecast – 9-04-2017

With the cold front that passed through today, expect temperatures to sit in the mid-60’s through the end of the week. A bit of a warming trend is on the way into next week, so stay tuned if you want to keep the warmth a little while longer. Pink Arrow should stay clear, but a slight chance for a rain shower is not out of the question yet.

Football Forecast Graphic – 9-01-2017

Football Forecast Graphic – 8-25-2017

Red Arrow Forecast – 8-21-2017

Have a great first week of school LHS!

Severe Weather Outlook for Today | 8-17-2017 Blog

Graphic Credit – NWS

An official word from the Storm Prediction Center in Norman on tomorrow.

“Showers and thunderstorms will likely be ongoing at the beginning of the period within the WAA zone near the surface low across northern WI and upper MI. However, farther south, general expectation is for the portion of the front moving across the middle MS Valley to be mostly void of thunderstorm activity, largely a result of being displaced south of the strongest forcing for ascent but north of the better instability. A reinvigoration of thunderstorms is expected across lower MI and the central OH Valley as the cold front encounters the moist and diurnally destabilized airmass across the region. A predominately multicell mode is anticipated with possible embedded bowing structures contributing to occasional damaging wind gusts. Some isolated hail is also possible within the more organized storms. Relatively higher coverage is possible across lower MI and adjacent portions of northeast IN/northwest OH where slightly stronger shear supports a more favorable environment for storm organization/higher potential for a supercell or two. Given the amount of low-level moisture and relatively strong 850mb flow, a tornado or two is also possible. As a result, a Slight Risk has been introduced across these areas.”

What this means in a nutshell is that storm will come in waves starting right off the bat in the morning, with a chance of severe storms producing lightning, heavy downpours, and possibly hazards such as damaging winds, large hail, and a tornado or two in the afternoon at anytime. Stay tuned for more updates from the National Weather Service in either Grand Rapids, Detroit/Pontiac, or Gaylord if you live in the northern half of the lower peninsula.

3 Weeks From Eclipse & Looking At The Week Ahead


These past couple of weeks have been abnormally dry, and it looks like this minimal rain threat continues for at least a few more days until we fall into a much cooler and wetter weather pattern. We will end this fairly warm month of July on the hotter side of things with temperature excepted to reach between 86-89 degrees tomorrow!

Then the heat continues into Wednesday, but that’s when we could see the stormy weather build back in. At the current time, it appears that a stationary front that is hovering over the Canada/U.S. border will slowly dip down into the northern Great Plains and Mississippi Valley region bringing what could be, the start of more severe weather. August is known to be our best month for storms according to these past few summers. Just this past August, we had a rather unusual day where eight separate tornadoes touched down on a single day.

The most famous one being the Bangor to Grand Rapids tornado, which was actually determined to be four or five separates tornadoes along an almost straight path. Along the stationary front, the NWS Storm Prediction Center is forecasting a shortwave trough (trôf) to develop which will more-or-less be the fuel for storms for the next six to eight days. A cold front will also sweep through the region shortly after the storms exit to the east, bringing in some very below average temperatures. On Friday and Saturday, we could see high temperatures only in the high 60’s! It is a sigh of relief for some but just remember, you’ll want the 80’s back come mid-January when we’re buried in three feet of snow. Don’t worry though, temperatures will slowly rise back to near average by the middle of the following week.

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Picture from the American Astronomical Society – The path of the total solar eclipse is south of us.


Then, as mid-August rolls around, it will be about that time for the total solar eclipse! The date of the eclipse is scheduled to be August 21, the day before we return to school. Timing on the eclipse will be tough to tell, especially since Michiganders are expected to only see between 75%-90% of the sun covered. Looking at multiple images online, they all are calling for the event to last between 1pm and 4pm. The eclipse is projected to peak in the 49331 area code at 2:22pm, where the moon will block approximately 80% of the sun. Hopefully, it’ll live up to it’s hype and we will get quite a show. During the eclipse the sun will disappear behind the moon. This will cause a drop in temperature. This will be the first total eclipse visible in the contiguous United States since 1979.

Just remember to wear solar glasses or use a solar telescope when looking up. You can find all you need online for a reasonable cost. Normal sunglasses do not provide sufficient protection, and eclipses can cause blindness if you do not have adequate eye


Forecast from the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center, graphic from Joel Fritsma.


Slight risk for severe weather for the Lowell area today (updated from marginal around 12:00pm). Forecast from the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center, graphic from Joel Fritsma.

7-4-2017 – {LATEST} Landspout Touches Down in Allegan County

Last night’s land spout near Grand Junction, Michigan twirling up some plastic sheeting used on farm fields. (Slyvia Medina) @spann

It’s not an every day thing to see a tornado in Michigan, but from time to time, one usually makes the news. That was the case on Friday June 30th when an unusual back-building cell put down a weak tornado just north of Grand Junction, MI. In fact, it wasn’t technically referred to as a tornado at all. Because it wasn’t associated with the mesocyclone of a thunderstorm, the National Weather Service in Grand Rapids coined the video evidence shared, as a landspout. Think of a landspout as a waterspout or strong dust devil. They don’t do much damage at all. That was the case on Friday, however, there was some loss in crops. In a twitter video by Sylvia Medina, you can see the landspout picking up what appears to be ribbons of sheet metal. Those ribbons were identified as plastic mulch, which is known to keep methyl bromide (pesticide control) out of the crops. With plastic mulch ribbons of 100 feet going for sale on amazon for $26, this will be a minor setback for one local farmer. Shared below is the radar image, velocity scan (inbound vs outbound wind speeds), correlation coefficient (blue shows debris), and spectrum scan (overall turbulence within the cell). Hopefully this is the closest to a scare we have received for now, but an unsteady weather pattern appears to continue through the end of this week. The next chance for severe weather arrives Thursday evening into Friday.

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6-5-2017 – Red Arrow Forecast

From this week’s Red Arrow Report

6-4-2017 – Graduation Forecast

5-30-2017 – Red Arrow Forecast

Our first ever video of the Red Arrow Forecast. Thanks to Mr. Phillips and the rest of the Red Arrow Report class for helping make this possible!

5-22-2017 – Red Arrow Forecast

Plenty of exciting things in store for the weather website here next year. Can’t wait to tell you all about it!

5-15-2017 – Red Arrow Forecast

5-8-2017 – Red Arrow Forecast

Have a great week Red Arrows! – Joel

5-1-2017 – Red Arrow Forecast

4-24-2017 – Red Arrow Forecast

4-17-2017 – Red Arrow Forecast

 4-10-2017 – Severe Weather

This warning has now expired. As has the tornado warning for the far southeastern portion of the county. The tornado warning remains in effect for parts of Ionia County. Stay safe! A severe thunderstorm watch remains in effect until 11:00pm for the area.

Graphic from the NWS. Updated as of 1:30pm


Radar for the Southeast –

Current Watches and Warnings –

Lowell Baseball is down in Gulf Shores currently keeping a close eye on the weather.

We are currently delayed due to the Tornado watch. MHSAA and our school policy do not allow us to practice. @Lowellredarrows

Monday update (4/3) – For Red Arrows currently in Gulf Shores, Alabama and surrounding areas please be extra careful today as severe weather hits the southeast. Lowell Baseball has noted all practices for today are cancelled (the team is in Gulf Shores). Stay safe everyone! Embedded one of my tweets below this map showing some of the storms on radar.

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Graphic from the National Weather Service.

Here was the squall line that impacted the area Monday morning (below).

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

A huge squall line, producing tons of lightning, gusty winds over 60 mph & decent size hail is moving into the Gulf Shores area, be alert!

3-27-2017 – Red Arrow Forecast

This week’s weather forecast for Lowell. Have a great last week before Spring Break.

3-20-2017 – Red Arrow Forecast

Spring sports officially begin competition this week. Happy first day of spring!

3-13-2017 – Red Arrow Forecast

3-8-2017 – High Winds Continue

Updated at 12:00pm – Alert from the National Weather Service for Allegan; Barry; Calhoun; Clinton; Eaton; Ingham; Ionia; Jackson; Kalamazoo; Kent; Ottawa; Van Buren counties. This remains in effect until 7:00pm – “HIGH WIND WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 7 PM EST THIS EVENING… HAZARDOUS WEATHER…

  • Damaging wind gusts to around 65 mph expected.
  • Strongest winds expected through 500 PM.
  • Sustained winds of 30 to 40 mph. IMPACTS:
  • Widespread power outages expected today.
  • Power outages may last into Thursday.
  • High profile vehicles will need to exercise caution on north to south orientated roadways.
  • Tree branches and limbs will come down today with full trees toppled as well.”

3-7-2017 – High Wind Warning for Tomorrow

2-28-2017 – Current Watches and Warnings (10:05 PM)

Follow up… the Special Weather Statement affecting the northern counties here including Lowell around 8:30pm expired. Lot happening down south though. This will be the last update for tonight (school in the AM).




2-23-2017 – Severe Weather Outlook for Friday

Normally at this time in previous years, I’d be releasing a snow day prediction for tomorrow. However, it’s 2017… anything can happen, especially in Michigan which is known to experience all four seasons in the matter of a week or less. A huge low pressure system, amplified by an upper level trough will move in starting tonight bringing some heavy rain to the area. Areas further north could see some mixed precipitation if temperatures dip below freezing.

Then tomorrow comes around and things really start to ramp up. Within the past day, the greatest risk of severe weather has shifted just slightly southeast. Originally all of Kent County was listed under a slight risk but that has since changed. The main factors for tomorrow are for sure heavy rain and damaging winds! Some storms will fire up and produce some moderate hail and the ability to rotate. School districts located in the slight risk or higher (Lansing and southward) could see at least one tornado. However, the temperatures will be quite chilly tomorrow for a normal thunderstorm. Usually temperatures are in the mid 70s to low 80s when the instability spills over. Tomorrow? 55 degrees is the projected high.

Keep in mind it has been getting lower all week which is part of the reason why the risk zones have been moving ever so slightly south. Know your safety plans in case of an emergency tomorrow! Remember that on August 20 of this past year, temperatures were soaring and the NWS SPC had us listed under a slight risk. As the day went on, however, they decided to downgrade most of West Michigan to marginal! What happened after that? We had 4-5 tornadoes touch down. Just goes to show you that weather is very unpredictable, especially in Michigan… so it’s always good to expect the unexpected! Stay safe everyone!

2-20-17 – Red Arrow Forecast

Looking to be another crazy weather week in Michigan. 66 degrees on Wednesday then a chance of snow on Saturday. Enjoy the warm February temperatures while they last!

2-12-17 Blog Update – Job Shadow Opportunity

On February 2, 2017, Groundhog Day, I got the awesome opportunity to job shadow Mr. Kopecek from FOX 17. It was a very cold day! Lake effect snow was falling, and the winds blew fairly hard all across the area.

Me and Fox 17 Chief Meteorologist Joe Kopecek.


I arrived at the studio in the early afternoon hours. The lady at the front desk let me in, and a moment later, I was greeted by Mr. Kopecek. For those who aren’t aware, I job shadowed him back when I was in elementary school. Back then, he was employed at WZZM 13. Being united again after all these years felt great! We were both eager to ask each other questions right away. First of all, we went into the weather center. I saw others on a job shadow from a different school there too. They all grabbed a picture in front of the temperature map before leaving the studio for the day.

At that point, Kevin Craig, another meteorologist at the studio, had walked in. Mr. Kopecek introduced him to me, and vice versa. With the weather center vacant, the three of us started looking at the computer models for upcoming weather systems that could move in at the time. Joe looked on as he let Craig show me the one very specific model in particular that showed data for Grand Rapids only, straight from Grand Rapids. Typically, the model isn’t available to the public so I’d consider it a cool upside of the job shadow. After a little while, Kevin had to put some more details onto his forecast. This gave Joe and I the perfect opportunity to walk around and talk some more.

While touring the studio where the on-air news took place, we got to talking mainly about the tornadoes that occurred this past August. It was a very strange day! We all remember well the system was very odd shaped and included two converging storm lines. I told him about the one tornado in Ionia County, how the beginning stages of it passed right over my house. He seemed very surprised about that. Behind the scenes, I got to see how the production part of the newscast worked. The most surprising part about the entire newscast is actually how much is spoken during the couple hours. Thankfully, they have the entire production team to help type it all. I’m sure this is the same story at all other news stations too. Before going on air, Joe also showed me how the radio forecasts work.

Now a days, they are recorded and sent in files to the radio stations. Back even as short as a few years ago, everything use to be live. There were so many little things too that made the experience worthwhile, but to spare you time, I’ve decided to list some of my highlights above.

Overall, the time I spent at FOX 17 was very enlightening, both in the short run, and the long run. The short run would be the computer models I picked up on that will help me predict snow days better for the area. The long run? Just the entire process of being an on-air meteorologist. If I don’t make it to the ‘big stage’… I’ll always go for a job at the local NWS. Could be Grand Rapids, could be Norman, OK.

Overall, I would like to give Mr. Kopecek, and the rest of FOX 17 too, a huge thank you for letting me job shadow them this past Groundhogs Day. I was told I may be replacing Kevin Craig in 12 years, but we shall see about that. Anything can change between now and then. :)