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winter

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Winter doesn't just mean freezing temperatures  – it's also a time when we are more likely to get sick. Which leads us to our next question: Do you vaccinate your kids?

It seems for more and more Michigan parents, the answer is no. 

When it comes to kids not getting vaccinated because their parents claim some personal or religious exemption, Michigan ranks number four in the nation. 

But resistance to vaccinations didn't just start with Jenny McCarthy or the study by British doctor Andrew Wakefield that alleged a link between vaccines and autism – a study that has since been discredited as being based on faulty science. 

It goes back long before that.

Gender and medical historian Jacqueline Antonovich has studied and written about the history of our relationship with vaccinations. 

Antonovich recently wrote in the blog nursingclio.org about this topic, and it was pretty personal for her, as someone who has had whooping cough.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A new round of harsh winter weather is on the way. Snow, rain, and freezing rain are all part of the forecast for the Lower Peninsula, and the Upper Peninsula could be in for a blizzard.

Dealing with this year’s record and near-record cold and snow is already busting budgets as overtime, equipment, and supply costs are going higher than planned.

“This is a record winter in terms of cold, snow and we still have more to come,” said Gov. Rick Snyder.  

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Temperatures are expected to hit 40 degrees in the coming week in Michigan.

The warm up should begin to melt off some of the snow that has built up over the past few months.

But the melting snow is also expected to reveal mounds of fallen tree branches, discarded Christmas trees and garbage that has been entombed in mounds of snow and ice since December.

Paul Dykema is the assistant superintendent in the city of Lansing’s Public Service Department.  He says cleaning that mess up will take some time.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan wildlife is struggling this winter, just like the state’s human population.

State wildlife officials say the next few weeks will be critical for Michigan deer, pheasants, and other animals.

As the days grow longer, animals become more active. Their metabolisms pick up and they need to forage for more food.

But when the snow is several feet deep, and a layer of ice coats normal food sources, finding enough food can be a problem.

Consumers Energy

Consumers Energy and DTE are waiting to hear from electric utilities in the south and east that are bearing the brunt of a strong winter storm this week.

Tens of thousands of people in the Deep South have already lost power from the storm that is raining down large amounts of ice and snow in places that rarely see either.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

HOWELL, Mich. (AP) - Michigan's weather-prognosticating woodchuck has called for six more weeks of winter.

The Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News report that Woody stayed put in her home at the Howell Conference and Nature Center on Sunday morning, taken to mean there won't be an early end to the state's cold, white winter.

Nature center Executive Director Dick Grant tells the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus that Woody is 11-4 in weather predictions.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - State officials say they are processing credits to help low-income customers with their winter energy bills.

The Michigan Public Service Commission said this week that state treasury officials have mailed instruction booklets and forms pertaining to the Michigan Home Heating Credits for the 2013 tax year.

The materials also are available online and at many libraries, post offices and Department of Human Services' branch offices.

The average credit for last year was $124.

Bill Brinkman / NASA

Michigan may be “warming up” (31 degree heat wave, anyone?), but evidence of the latest snowpocalypse is still abundant.  

Over at MLive, meteorologist Mark Torregrossa reports that “mile for mile, Michigan has more snow cover than any other U.S. state.”

And as for ice, the Great Lakes are under the largest ice cover in 20 years. Sixty percent of all five lakes are now iced over.

user kajeburns / Twitter

It's similar to a 100-year flood event. It just doesn't happen that often.

So when it does, students celebrate. That's what happened last night when the University of Michigan called off classes for the first time in 36 years. 

The student journalists over at the Michigan Daily collected the best reactions on Twitter to the news.

Here are the best stunned faces, celebratory waffles, and trips to the liquor store:

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

ALPENA, Mich. (AP) — Bitterly cold weather is lingering across Michigan, with readings below zero and more snow in the forecast for parts of the state.

The National Weather Service reports Wednesday morning it was 18 degrees below zero in Alpena in the northeastern Lower Peninsula. Frigid readings came in throughout Michigan, including 17 below in Ann Arbor and 15 below in Port Huron in the southern Lower Peninsula.

In Detroit, a reading of zero degrees was reported. And it dipped to 3 degrees below zero at Detroit Metropolitan airport in Romulus.

The bitter cold is expected to continue for several more days. In western Michigan, 3 to 5 inches of snow is forecast Wednesday and into Thursday morning. And more lake-effect snow is expected along parts of Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. (AP) - Another round of frigid air is making its way into Michigan, leaving roads slippery as dangerously cold temperatures are expected in places this week.

In suburban Detroit, state police reported multiple crashes on the freeway system.

In the Upper Peninsula community of Sault Ste. Marie, it's 5 degrees below zero on Monday morning.

A hazardous weather outlook was issued for much of the state, with wind chill readings of 10 to 20 degrees below expected late Monday and early Tuesday in the southern Lower Peninsula.

user GlenArborArtisans / YouTube

While temperatures are (finally) starting to climb out of subzeros across Michigan, signs of the so-called polar vortex – a low-pressure system that brought arctic temperatures across the country – are still lingering throughout the state.

For instance, boulder-sized ice balls have taken hold of the shores of Lake Michigan. Here’s a video captured on the lake’s coast in Glen Arbor, Michigan:

As MLive’s Heidi Fenton reported, the chunks form when large ice sheets break off into smaller pieces of ice. When waves hit the ice sheets, the ice chunks form into perfectly round, frigid spheres, with some estimated to weigh about 75 pounds.

If temperatures stay low enough, the ice balls – which our webmaster claims look exactly like chocolate truffles he has at home – may continue to grow, AccuWeather.com reported:

"It's possible that the ice is accreting like a snowball or like a hailstone, and that they keep growing," said AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Jim Andrews.

www.parkwhiz.com

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - Snow and ice are creating hazardous driving conditions in Michigan.

MLive.com reports 10 slide-offs and minor crashes Monday morning across parts of western Michigan.

No serious injuries were immediately reported. Much of western Michigan is fresh off of seeing anywhere from 1 to 4 inches of snow on Sunday. Slippery roads also were reported in other parts of the state, including the Detroit and Kalamazoo areas.

The National Weather Service says the most snow is forecast in parts of Michigan's Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula, where advisories urging caution were issued. By the time the snow wraps up Monday, a total of 3 to 8 inches is expected in Chippewa and Mackinac counties.

user Cseeman / Flickr

As I grabbed my gloves and heavy coat this morning, I noted that the thermometer was 33. Just ten days ago, it was 79 degrees. That’s Michigan's weather for you — always keeping us on our toes.

With talk of snowflakes in Flint and friends in Northern Michigan grumbling on Facebook about predictions of snow on October 22, we wondered: Is Michigan facing an early winter?

Meteorologist Mark Torregrossa joins us to discuss what’s ahead for Michigan weather.

Listen to the full interview above.

user Explore the Bruce / Flickr

Frida Waara is an instructor in the upcoming Becoming an Outdoors Woman event this weekend in the Upper Peninsula's Big Bay, sponsored by the Department of Natural Resources.

The event will help women - even the most devoted Netflixers - develop skills that encourage and maintain an active lifestyle during a Michigan winter.

So, how does Waara get women to be active outdoors when the weather drops below zero?

Michigan Radio's Cynthia Canty spoke with Waara about the program and the importance for women to be active year round.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

COMMERCE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - Southeastern Michigan residents are making the best of the region's first big snowstorm of the season, which peaked during the evening rush hour and snarled road traffic and air travel.

The fringe of the storm pushed into populous metropolitan Detroit on Wednesday afternoon, and the National Weather Service says it should taper off Thursday.

Snowfalls were topping half a foot by late Wednesday, with 6.5 inches already on the ground in Ann Arbor.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A website is launching just in time to help parents monitor and improve winter driving skills for teen drivers.

The University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute created the site called - "safer driving for teens dot org".

“This promotes parents and teens communication with each other and clarity and what it is that’s expected. And some consequences…what will happen if the restrictions are not met,” says Jean Shope.  She’s with the Institute.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

TROY, Mich. (AP) - Northern Michigan has had its first big snowstorm of the season, and the South is awaiting its introduction to winter this week.

Most Michiganians awoke to a white Christmas after a moderate snowfall on Christmas Eve made travel risky and caused dozens of spinout accidents around the state.

The Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula got up to 20 inches of snow in a storm that hit last Thursday, and the weather service says a storm expected to push across southeastern Michigan will bring four to seven inches on Wednesday and Thursday.

(http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:AndrewHorne)

The National Hockey League tomorrow will make official that Michigan Stadium will host next year’s Winter Classic matchup between the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Today,  the University of Michigan Board of Regents agreed to lease the college football stadium for a pro hockey game for three million dollars.

Big time hockey in the open air is rare, but not unheard of.    For example, this won’t be the first hockey game at the Big House.  More than 104 thousand fans watched U of M defeat MSU on a specially built ice rink on the Michigan Stadium field in 2010.  The NHL matchup is expected to draw as many fans, and possibly more,  to Ann Arbor.

The largest crowd ever to see an NHL hockey game was 71 thousand at Buffalo’s Ralph Wilson Stadium in 2008. 

This will be the second time the Red Wings have skated in the National Hockey League’s Winter Classic.  

Since its inception in 2008,  the Winter Classic has become a popular event on the NHL schedule.  

Mark Grant / wikimedia commons

Today is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year.

The BBC reports that "more than 1,000 people" gathered at Stonehenge in Wiltshire County, England to mark the occasion.

And Arch druid Rollo Maughfling remarked  "the solstice celebration had been 'a very jolly occasion.'"

So in Ann Arbor, the sunset tonight is at 5:05 p.m... tomorrow night it will come at 5:06 p.m.

But weirdly, the winter solstice does not coincide with earliest sunset times.

Justin Grieser explains why in the Washington Post. Grieser says it has to do with the sun's declination and the shifting time of solar noon:

In late November, the effect of a later-shifting solar noon begins to counteract the effect that the sun’s lowering declination has on pushing sunset earlier. Eventually, sunset reaches a minimum during the first week of December. While we would expect the earliest sunset to occur closer to the winter solstice, the rapid forward shift in solar noon causes sunset to creep later more than a week before then.

Michigan lawmakers are debating this week how to help low-income families pay their heating bills. It’s turned into an urgent problem because of federal budget cuts... and a court decision that has tied up millions of dollars. Here’s how it works: there’s a program called the Low-Income Energy Efficiency Fund. If you get your power from DTE or Consumers Energy, you pay into that fund when you pay your energy bills... somewhere between one and two dollars a month. There’s been about $90 million dollars in that fund annually.

Jane Doughnut / Creative Commons

Carl Rizzuto sells his own sausage and meatballs at the summer farmer’s market in Kalamazoo. He tried coordinating a winter market ten years ago but he says there wasn’t enough interest. Now he says business is so good during the summer market vendors agreed a the Kalamazoo Winter Market would be worth the effort.

Blue Flame Gas inc.

Consumers Energy says its natural gas customers will be paying less this winter to heat their homes.  

Dan Bishop is a Consumers spokesman.   He says more plentiful supplies are leading to a 3 percent cut in natural gas prices.   

“In recent years there’s been a large amount of new natural gas discoveries in the United States and in Canada.  And that extra increase of supply has really put downward pressure on prices," says Bishop.  

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

 Lansing’s ordinance requiring people to shovel snow from their sidewalks might get a tweak before the snow flies this winter.   

Last night, the Lansing City Council voted to allow four people off the hook for failing to shovel snow from their sidewalks last winter.  The reason?  They either didn’t actually own the property last winter or there was an administrative mistake.  

Wacky Weather

Mar 11, 2011

You don’t need me to tell you this, but we’ve had a rough winter. Not nearly as tough as they’ve had in New York, or almost anywhere on the eastern seaboard. But it’s been cold and snowy.

How snowy? Well, in Detroit, we are already in the top dozen winters of all time, with more than sixty inches. Last month was the third snowiest February in recorded history.

But it could always be worse. If you have any interest in the weather, by the way, there’s a fascinating little book that just came out last year: Extreme Michigan Weather: The Wild World of the Great Lakes State, published by the University of Michigan Press.

Author Paul Gross is a longtime meteorologist who now works for WDIV-TV in Detroit.  His book looks at the strange and constantly changing weather we have in this state, or, as he puts it, everything from heat waves to bitter snows, ice storms to tornadoes to floods.

We don’t, however, have hurricanes, and his book will tell you why. (Not having any tropical ocean waters around here is a big part of it.)  Ice we do have -- in abundance.

Ice and snow. But if you are feeling so tired of snow you can’t stand it, consider this. We lucked out today. Grand Rapids once got almost seven inches of snow on March 11. In Flint, it’s been as cold as seven below zero this day, which I found in Paul Gross’s book.

He includes all these tables for fun in Extreme Michigan Weather. So, just in case you were burning to know, it was once twenty below zero on this date in Ironwood.

LisaW123 / Flickr

A winter storm has brought a few inches of snow and dangerous early-morning driving conditions to parts of the state. The Associated Press reports:

The National Weather Service says southeast Michigan was feeling the effects of the storm Friday morning, with an inch or more on the ground as the morning commute began. The snow left slippery driving conditions in its wake and numerous weather-related spinouts and crashes were reported.

The state's Thumb area and Port Huron were expected to get the most snow. The weather service says 5 to 7 inches could fall in that area. Winds contributed to hazardous conditions.

The Detroit News reports:

As much as 4 inches of snow fell overnight as a fast-moving system heads from the Ohio Valley into Canada, with Metro Detroit on the outer edge of the system.

The snow is expected to taper off this morning, but not before some parts of the region see a total of as much as 7 inches snow, said meteorologist Steve Considine of the National Weather Service reporting station in White Lake Township.

"It is winding down now," he said about 6:15 a.m. today. "About 2-4 inches will fall in much of Metro Detroit and higher in Macomb County."

St. Clair and Sanilac counties could see a total of 5-7 inches, Considine said, because of how the storm is moving.

Blowing snow could be a problem this morning because winds are blowing at 25-30 mph, Considine said.

Temperatures were in the 20s this morning but expected to climb near 40 degrees this afternoon, Considine said. A snowy rain is expected later this evening.

LisaW123 / Flickr

Freezing rain has closed portions of some southeast Michigan freeways and made driving conditions dangerous for commuters.

The Associated Press reports:

...portions of Interstate 94, Interstate 75 and the Lodge Freeway (M-10) were closed early Friday morning in Detroit, while portions of the Southfield Freeway (M-39) in Dearborn and Interstate 96 in Howell also have been shut down... Several accidents have been reported.

The National Weather Service in White Lake Township says freezing rain is expected to change to rain by noon. High temperatures in the low 40s are expected.

The Michigan State Police has confirmed to Michigan Radio that as of 6:57 a.m. parts of Northbound 23 were closed as were parts of Northbound I-475.

Photo by Matt Grocoff

In the winter... there’s a quick and easy way to find out where your house is leaking energy... just by looking at your roof a day or two after a good snow. Greenovation.tv’s Matt Grocoff invited me along on what he calls a drive-by energy audit.

Here's what to look for:

  1. Icicles are pretty... but they're a sign that your attic needs more insulation. Heat from your house is escaping and melting the snow.
  2. If you have ice clogging your gutter, it can cause damage to the gutter... and ice can get underneath your roof shingles and damage your roof.
  3. You can use a roof rake to clear snow from your roof... but it's just a short-term fix. A better solution is to check out the non-profit group Michigan Saves to find a qualified contractor, who can come out and perform an energy audit and find your home's leaks and advise you on how to fix them so you can save energy and money.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Wayne County has fired the head of its roads division after getting deluged with complaints about unplowed roads.

Metro Detroit has as much as ten inches of snow on the ground after a storm earlier this week.

Michelle Smart commutes to her job at Ford in Dearborn using the Southfield Freeway. She says on Monday’s drive, people were trying to make lanes where they could through the snow.

"The plows had not come through. It was extremely slippery and dangerous."

Road crews across the state have been struggling to keep up with this winter’s near-record snowfall with budgets that are much smaller than in years past.

Ten years ago, Wayne County had more than 700 people working for the roads division during the winter months. This year it has a little more than 300.

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