Tornado Bob: A very snowy March and skiing border to border in Finland
Bob Conzemius is a meterologist working in the field of wind energy who talks about the science of weather on KAXE.
GRAND RAPIDS — Some people love the snow so much they travel over 4,000 miles to cross-country ski and sauna.
Tornado Bob is that kind of guy. Sure, he knows the science of weather, wind energy, tornadoes and storm chasing and northern lights — but who knew he would head to nearly the Arctic Circle and take part in the Border to Border Ski event covering 400 kilometers in northern Finland?
Conzemius is a meteorologist and works in the field of wind energy. He talks with Heidi Holtan and John Latimer on most editions of the Tuesday Morning Show.
This week, the big topic was another dump of snow.
“March is making me eat my words. Typically, historically within the past 17 years since I’ve lived in the Grand Rapids area, it hasn’t been a snowy month," Conzemius said. "But this year is kind of an exception."
A total of 17-20 inches of snow fell this March so far, making it snowier than usual.
"The shapes of the snow crystals are dynamic, even if there's no melting going on. With time, you have vapor, sublimation off of the ice crystals and re-deposition. It looks static, just like it is sitting there, but on a molecular level it's actually fairly dynamic.”Tornado Bob
Conzemius went on to answer a listener’s question about why we’ve had 7 feet of snow but only 16 inches are left on the ground.
“There are a couple of things going on — it does melt a little bit. From time to time, we get thaw with temperatures above freezing. And although that doesn’t necessarily make it melt and run off, it’ll oftentimes just melt.
"And the stuff that melts on top will seep into the snow pack and it'll get to ground level and refreeze, and you'll see if you dig down into the snow, as you get down closer to ground, you get more of this ice icy layer.
“The other is just the shapes of the snow crystals are dynamic, even if there's no melting going on. With time, you have vapor, sublimation off of the ice crystals and re-deposition. It looks static, just like it is sitting there, but on a molecular level it's actually fairly dynamic."
According to Conzemius, the shape of snow crystals changes, which results in compaction.
“A lot of our snow often falls as dendritic flakes because of the temperature of the clouds. They tend to have a very high snow to liquid ratio. So we can get ratios as high as 50 to 1 in extreme cases. Typically in Minnesota they average about 15 to 1 or something like that. And those then compact with time.”
Conzemius also talked about participating in the Border to Border ski close to the Arctic Circle in Finland recently, where he skied 40-42 kilometers per day, or about 25-26 miles. Conditions were good, according to Conzemius, with temperatures in the 20s.