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      U.P. severe weather pictures gone viral

      Mesocyclone in Bark River, 7-25-13
      Happy Saturday, everyone! I decided to write more informally this weekend and address some severe weather questions. Below, I discuss the Bark River mesocyclone, Iron Mountain mammatus clouds, and the tornado warnings. It's not short, so I won't be offended if you jump to the paragraphs of interest, but I promise it's educational and interesting. :)Your basic forecast is at the bottom.The United States of America reports more tornadoes annually than any other nation in the world by a long shot. From NOAA's National Climatic Data Center: "In terms of absolute tornado counts, the United States leads the list, with an average of over 1,000 tornadoes recorded each year. A distant second is Canada, with around 100 per year."So why is this relevant? The U.P. has seen a great deal of severe weather lately, but no tornadoes despite many unreliable reports of damage that seem tornadic in origin to some. The Marquette National Weather Service office says we receive an average of one tornado per year in Upper Michigan. The last confirmed tornado was in June of 2012. Despite recent severe weather, and tornado warnings, reports say there have been no confirmed tornadoes so far this year. Let's clear the air a bit...On Thursday, the U.P. saw a mesocyclone rip through parts of Dickinson, Menominee, and Delta counties. A mesocyclone, or "meso" for short, is a rotating portion of a severe thunderstorm and is the trademark of a supercell. Mesos sometimes produce tornadoes. See the pictures for examples of what it looks like. Or just Google it. You'll find some amazing pictures out of the Great Plains. Anyways, the center of the mesocyclone is an intense area of rain and winds known as the "bear's cage." It sometimes contains a rain-wrapped, and possibly violent, tornado. It's a no-chase zone, unless you're crazy in my opinion. I believe Thursday's meso was well-warned by our local NWS meteorologists. For the record, for those who don't now, broadcast meteorologists like myself have zero power in issuing warnings or watches. That is a government responsibility.

      Reports identify a funnel cloud in Bark River, but no touchdown. Pictures from Casey Hyslop and David Tovar, and other viewers, from Bark River have gone moderately viral receiving thousands of shares and some retweets from around the country.Another note of interest is Monday July 22nd's mammatus (pronounced muh-MAH-tis) clouds in the Iron Mountain area. Sheila Annear of Custom Creations Photography took some good pictures and video of the clouds. The reactions in the video are interesting. Another video from Jason Asselin of the clouds has received close to 300,000 hits as of Saturday. Most importantly, these clouds are harmless. There is some debate as to their meteorological origins as they appear in many different conditions, but they are not unusual with severe thunderstorms. They may be a precursor to severe weather, but are most commonly seen after the fact. Bottom line: relax and enjoy the show when you see them. They're beautiful and mesmerizing. I like to describe them as bubble wrap in the sky. Upper Michigan has seen several severe weather events lately (it's summer, it happens), and I have heard many viewers and commenters jump to conclusions about tornadoes. I have surveyed some of the wind damage myself along with the local NWS meteorologists. While some wind damage has been undeniably intense, there has been no real evidence of tornadoes. Tornado damage is chaotic with wind damage blowing in all directions in an unmistakable line across an area. Tornadoes do not shift directions easily. The evidence indicates recent damage has been the result of strong straight-line winds from severe thunderstorms. If EVER you have a clear report of a tornado, call 911 (or local police department numbers) or the NWS office in Negaunee Township. We'd love to hear the reports as well, and see pictures and video, but the important part is to pass out your spotter information so others may be warned. In the meantime, it's best not to assume that every bit of severe wind damage is tornado damage, but when the storm is happening, please heed tornado and severe thunderstorm warnings and seek shelter until storms pass. Pictures from the severe weather this week have been AMAZING, so thank you! I'll be sharing some as Pride of the U.P. photos. Please continue to send them to us on our website or through Facebook and Twitter. ___________Now as for your forecast... We've received some HEAVY rain lately in some parts of the U.P. We may see more this weekend, but the worst is behind us. Saturday will be downright cold for late July. I like to describe it as "hoody weather," not quite cold enough for a thick jacket. Look for highs around 50, over 20 degrees below average, with overcast skies, northwest winds, and possible rain west. Lows drop into the 40s. Chances for rain continue, and fog is again possible. Sunday will be only a few degrees warmer with highs still cool in the 50s. Expect overcast skies and more chances for rain. Lows will sink into the 40s to low 50s east. Monday will see warmer and near normal conditions with highs around 70.