Weather
7:58 am
Wed February 2, 2011

Storm leaves 'relatively few' without power

Energy companies across the state say the winter storm left 'relatively few' powerless
LisaW123 Flickr

While the snow has been heavy across the state over the past 12 hours, the freezing rain that was forecasted missed much of the state.

That’s good news for DTE Energy and Consumer’s Energy, who are reporting relatively few power outages, according to the Associated Press.

Consumer’s Energy reports roughly 3,700 customers without power, with most of the outages occurring in Gratiot County.

Meanwhile, DTE Energy is reporting only 1,000 residential outages, which the company says is in line with the average number of outages during a typical day.

Weather
7:45 am
Wed February 2, 2011

Flights canceled as storm moves across state

Steve McFarland Flickr

Hundreds of flights in and out of Michigan airports have been canceled due to the winter weather, according to the Associated Press.

The AP reports:

Detroit Metropolitan Airport spokesman Mike Conway says... many cancelations were made by airlines in advance of the storm. Conway says runways at the airport in Romulus and nearby Willow Run Airport have been kept open despite the snow, thanks to constant work from plow crews.

The Grand Rapids Press reports most early Wednesday departures were canceled at Gerald R. Ford International Airport in southwestern Michigan. And The Flint Journal reports that some flights at Flint's Bishop International Airport had been canceled.

The Detroit Free Press reports:

Out of 600 departures and 622 arrivals scheduled for today at Metro Airport, 254 departures and 263 arrivals have been canceled, airport spokesman Scott Wintner said.

As of 6:30 a.m., Southwest stopped all operations at the airport through noon and United has canceled all flights in and out of Detroit for today, not including United Express flights to Newark and Houston, he said.

Delta Air Lines canceled 800 flight systemwide today. Customers traveling through areas impacted by the storm can change flights without fees, Delta’s Web site says.

Politics
5:27 pm
Tue February 1, 2011

Pure Michigan campaign seeking public and private dollars

Screen grab from Pure Michigan ad
Pure Michigan

A measure to fully fund the Pure Michigan advertising campaign for the rest of the year appears poised for a vote next week in a state House committee.

Tourism officials and travel-related business owners showed up at the first hearing to support the legislation.

Dan Musser’s family owns the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. He says the national ad campaign has helped draw a growing number of out-of-state visitors to the island.

"Our potential is even greater than our success at this point, but if the campaign is not fully funded, we’ve wasted the opportunity for the Pure Michigan brand to reach its full potential. That potential brings tax revenues to the state, supports and creates jobs for Michigan residents."

Musser also says Mackinac Island is splitting the cost of a $1 million nationwide Pure Michigan ad purchase with the state’s tourism agency, Travel Michigan.

The ad will use the Pure Michigan brand to specifically promote Mackinac Island to travelers.

The Henry Ford in Dearborn will also share the costs of national campaign promoting the museum and the Pure Michigan brand.

Travel Michigan says about 30 other resorts and regional tourism offices  are also forming Pure Michigan ad partnerships with the state.

Weather
5:18 pm
Tue February 1, 2011

Gov. Snyder activates the State Emergency Operations Center

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder
(courtesy of the Michigan governor's office)

Governor Rick Snyder has ordered the State Emergency Operations Center to be activated to track events related to the coming winter storm.

The governor says he's also ordered the Michigan National Guard to be ready to help local governments deal with emergencies that may arise.

The governor says he's also instructed state agencies to make sure hospitals, prisons, and other essential facilities are adequately staffed.

Auto/Economy
5:12 pm
Tue February 1, 2011

January car sales strong...but storm threatens February sales.

David Erickson Flickr

Most car companies had a better January than the same month last year, led by Chrysler and GM, which improved their sales 23%.

Ford sales improved 13%.  The company had a stronger January a year ago than Chrysler and GM, which were both struggling to rebuild inventories, so Ford's percentage improvement is not as great.

Ford also terminated its Mercury brand in December, and officials say the company is deliberately reducing sales to fleets like rental car companies.  A high volume of fleet sales can lower the residual value of a company's vehicles.

Read more
Science/Medicine
5:08 pm
Tue February 1, 2011

New housing complex to serve Detroit's senior citizens

Rendering of the East Jefferson Neighborhood Project
Hooker DeJong Architects and Engineers

Henry Ford Health Systems and two non-profit partners will team up to offer more long-term care options to Detroit’s senior citizens.

 

Henry Ford, Presbyterian Villages of Michigan, and United Methodist Retirement Communities are involved in the $35 million project on the city’s east side.

 

The complex will include affordable senior housing, assisted living units, and a Center for Senior Independence.

 

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Politics
5:02 pm
Tue February 1, 2011

Pete Hoekstra joins law firm - lobbying group

Pete Hoekstra will join former republican colleagues at the law firm
from Hoekstra's former congressional website

Update 5:02 p.m.:

A representative from Dickstein Shapiro LLP spoke with Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith. The rep. told Smith that Hoekstra plans to continue living in Holland. Hoekstra will apparently split his time (50/50) between home and Washington D.C. for now.

No word yet on whether Hoekstra is looking for a couch to crash on in D.C.

3:39 p.m.:

Former West Michigan Congressman Pete Hoekstra has a new job.

He'll be working as a senior advisor to Dickstein Shapiro LLP, a law firm and lobbying group with offices in Washington D.C., California, Connecticut, and New York.

Going from a member on Capitol Hill to a member of a group that lobbies Capitol Hill is a common path for many former members of Congress.

Hoekstra will join former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert and former Senator Tom Hutchinson at the firm.

In the firm's press release, Hoekstra said he looks forward to collaborating with Hutchinson and Hastert on a "daily basis," and using his expertise in "strategic and contingency planning":

"National security—from homegrown terrorism to cyberwarfare —continues, by necessity, to be a governmental imperative at all levels, and lawmakers in Washington make crucial decisions every day that impact corporations across America. As the Republican leadership in the U.S. House seeks to rein in federal spending, and as these important issues continue to loom large, there are few things more important than seasoned strategic counsel who understand the nuanced interworkings of government. Dickstein Shapiro has what it takes."

Before he left, Hoekstra was the ranking Republican and a former chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

medical marijuana
4:38 pm
Tue February 1, 2011

Decision to release medical marijuana records now in hands of judge

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

A federal judge in Grand Rapids heard arguments Tuesday in a case involving who has access to patient information under Michigan’s Medical Marijuana Act.

Read more
Weather
4:37 pm
Tue February 1, 2011

Winter storm approaching

It's almost here. A NOAA infared image showing water vapor - the brighter the colors, the more dense the water vapor
NOAA

Update - 4:37 p.m.:

Tonight's chance of snow 100%.

Be careful and have fun if you venture outside.

From the NWS for southeast Michigan:

Very strong northeast winds will develop overnight and continue through Wednesday morning. Strong winds in excess of 35 mph will combine with the heavy snow to create blizzard conditions across all of southeastern Michigan. Significant blowing and drifting of snow will occur...helping to create whiteout conditions. Snowfall and wind gusts will decrease in intensity Wednesday afternoon...with snow diminishing by the early evening. Storm total snow accumulations of between 7 and 12 inches will be possible across much of southeastern Michigan...with 10 to 15 inches possible between the I 69 and m 46 corridors.

And for West Michigan:

As of 400 pm heavy snow was crossing the Michigan and Indiana border. Steady snow will continue to develop across the warning area late this afternoon. The heaviest snow will fall between midnight and mid morning on Wednesday. One to two inch per hour snow rates can be expected during this time. Storm total accumulations of 10 to 16 inches can be expected by Wednesday evening. By around 8 pm north to northeast winds will increase to 15 to 30 mph with higher gusts to 40 mph. These winds will continue into Wednesday morning before gradually diminishing. Considerable blowing and drifting snow is expected... Producing blizzard conditions and visibilities down to near zero.

 

Update - 12:00 p.m.:

The latest from the National Weather Service. Much of southern Michigan is under a blizzard warning (red in the map above) and the middle and upper part of the lower peninsula are under a winter storm watch (pink).

Poor folks in the UP. They're going to miss all the fun.

The National Weather Service says the Blizzard Warning will be in effect from 7pm tonight until 7am tomorrow for southeastern Michigan, and for West Michigan the warning will start around 5 p.m.

From the NWS:

This is a dangerous storm. Travel and commerce across the warning area are expected to be severely impacted by heavy snow and significant blowing and drifting snow late this afternoon through Wednesday.

Heavy snow and blowing and drifting snow will make clearing of roads difficult tonight into Wednesday. Conditions will improve late Wednesday afternoon into Wednesday evening as the snow diminishes and winds die down.

 

Monday, January 31st - 1:02 p.m.:

The winter storm is approaching. Here are some weather links to keep you up to date:

An animated radar from NOAA.gov

Forecasts for your part of the state

Watches, Warnings or Advisories for Michigan

This from NOAA's website:

A major winter storm is expected to impact the central United States over the next several days. Snow possible from the Northern and Central Plains into the Upper Midwest. Ice and snow possible across the Central and Southern Plains, central Mississippi Valley and Ohio Valley beginning early Tuesday. Blizzard Warnings are in effect over parts of Illinois and Indiana. Winter Storm Warnings, Winter Storm Watches, and Winter Weather Advisories are in effect from most of the central United States through the Midwest and into the Northeast.

WEATHER
4:10 pm
Tue February 1, 2011

Michigan's homeless shelters prepare for overflow

Homeless shelters from Grand Rapids to Detroit are gearing up for a busy couple of days this week.

The major winter storm that's headed our way is expected to dump around a foot of snow across the state, and temperatures will be around 20 degrees for the next several days.

The city of Lansing is coordinating with its homeless shelters to make sure no one is turned away. Joan Jackson Johnson directs the city’s Community Services department: 

"What we’re doing is providing any extra resources the shelters may need -  from food to blankets. We’ve authorized one shelter to go out and purchase some emergency air mattresses for their shelter because this is their first time expanding for the overflow population."

Johnson says they’re prepared to house people in a hotel if they run out of room at the shelters.

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Arts/Culture
3:03 pm
Tue February 1, 2011

Artpod: Cost of Creativity, part 1

Michigan spends more on prison in 11 hours than it does on arts & culture in an entire year.
Danis Davis

The Cost of Creativity

We put together our stories about arts and the economy in the state to create an hour-long documentary called The Cost of Creativity. On today's podcast, we'll hear the first installment of the doc.

And because Artpod is about all things Michigan, all the music you'll hear on The Cost of Creativity is by Michigan artists. The musicians featured on today's podcast: Ben Benjamin and Luke Winslow-King.

Read more
Auto/Economy
2:31 pm
Tue February 1, 2011

Congressman Upton: power grid not ready for electric vehicles

Is the grid ready for electirc vehicles?
user citizenofthedeep Flickr

Michigan Congressman Fred Upton met with the Kalamazoo Regional Chamber of Commerce this morning during its "Legislative Connection Series" (tickets for the event went for $25 to $50).

The Kalamazoo Gazette reported that Upton talked about the future of energy in the country.

According to the report, Upton said gas prices might hit $4 a gallon by Memorial Day because of political instability and a moratorium on new off-shore drilling.

Higher gas prices, said Upton, will lead to more people buying up plug-in hybrid electric and fully electric cars. Something Upton feels the power grid is not ready for. From the article:

"We're going to need 30 to 40 percent more electricity by the end of the next decade, and we're not prepared," said Upton, Republican of St. Joseph.

Upton said he favors the development of more nuclear power plants and is going to look into why it takes so long to build a nuclear power plant in this country.

Read more
Weather
12:32 pm
Tue February 1, 2011

Flight cancellations mounting at Michigan airports

USA Today reports more than 7 thousand flights have been canceled across the nation due to the massive winter storm streaming north from Texas.  

Read more
Weather
11:33 am
Tue February 1, 2011

Michigan Legislature closes in advance of storm

The Michigan Legislature will close Wednesday
Lester Graham Michigan Radio

The announced closings continue. Now state government is getting in on the action.

From the Associated Press:

The expectation of a winter storm will close down the Michigan Legislature. The state Senate and House have canceled sessions and committee meetings previously scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday because of a snowstorm that's expected to dump more than a foot of snow in some parts of Michigan. Wind gusts of 20 to 30 mph also are expected Wednesday in some areas with temperatures around 20 degrees. Both chambers were open for business Tuesday. Legislative offices will be closed Wednesday but might be open Thursday depending on the weather.

Weather
11:08 am
Tue February 1, 2011

UM Flint closes for storm

The University of Michigan in Flint has announced it will close this evening and all day tomorrow. From their press release:

The University of Michigan-Flint campus will close today, Tuesday, February 1, 2011 at 4:00 PM in preparation for an approaching massive winter storm, and will remain closed for clean-up on Wednesday, February 2, 2011. All late afternoon and evening classes, activities, and events are canceled after 4pm today and through tomorrow. Critical personnel will report to work at their regularly scheduled shift time.

More than likely, there will be many more closings announced. WDIV's website has a pretty good roundup of announced closings. They say six closings have been announced so far.

Environment
10:56 am
Tue February 1, 2011

No rehab for mute swans?

A pair of mute swans.
Photo by Mary Hollinger, NESDIS/NODC biologist, NOAA

You've definitely seen mute swans: they're big, white birds with orange bills.  A lot of people love them.

But Michigan wildlife officials say there are too many mute swans in the state

So... the Department of Natural Resources and Environment is now proposing a change... one that’s making some people very angry.

Barbara Avers is a waterfowl specialist with the DNRE. She says mute swans are not native to the U.S. – they were brought over from Europe in the 1800's. Basically, because they’re pretty.

“They’ve grown exponentially in Michigan. They’re kind of many times the bullies of the marsh.”

Avers says mute swans eat a huge amount of vegetation in lakes. They can push out native birds, such as the trumpeter swan. And she says mute swans can snap and charge at people.

“Routinely each year we get reports of mute swan attacks on land, and kayakers, people on jet skis, people out fishing in a boat, and what we see is as mute swan population grows so do the number of conflicts we see.”

Read more
Snow
9:31 am
Tue February 1, 2011

Predicted snow storm brings new financial headache to Michigan cities

Forecasters say the snow is coming.  It’s expected to make travel hazardous on Michigan roads.

It’s also expected to cause another financial headache to many cash strapped Michigan cities and towns.

Anthony Minghine is the Associate Executive Director of the Michigan Municipal League.

"Budgets have become so incredibly tight that these events become more and more difficult to absorb.  And again, depending on the magnitude of the storm, if it’s as big as it says, it could be a two to three day event, and you know, getting everything cleared and back up to speed it will become very costly for folks." 

Minghine says money spent now on snow removal is money that won’t be spent on road repair and other projects this Spring.

Politics
8:43 am
Tue February 1, 2011

Snyder Report: a frank look at Michigan's finances? (audio)

The state spends more than it takes in.
Citizen's Guide to Michigan's Financial Health Michigan Governor's office

Governor Snyder says he wants you to understand the state's budget crisis. He's rolled out a guide to help you do that.

It's called the "Citizen's Guide to Michigan's Financial Health."

Michigan Radio's Morning Edition Host, Christina Shockley, spoke with Lester Graham this morning.

Graham heads up Michigan Watch, Michigan Radio's investigative unit.

Graham took a look at the Guide and gave us his first impressions. You can listen to the audio here:

News Roundup
8:15 am
Tue February 1, 2011

In this morning's news...

Big snow band headed our way.
National Weather Service

Gearing up for snow

People in the state are gearing up for the coming storm that's expected to dump around a foot of snow in the region in less than 24 hours. Survival instincts are kicking in as people flock to grocery stores, gas stations, and hardware stores. The Kalamazoo Gazette reports some plow drivers are getting their sleep now in anticipation of staying up for the next couple of days. Andy Northey, the owner of R & A Lawn Maintenance and Landscaping in Plainwell, said:

"We're not going to be able to keep up with all the snow that’s expected," said Northey, whose company clears snow from residential and commercial properties from Allegan to Kalamazoo to Battle Creek. "Absolutely no way."

The Detroit News reports that Delta airlines is allowing people to change their flight plans without charging an extra fee:

Delta and other airlines encouraged passengers to change their travel dates. Anyone scheduled to fly this week can switch their flight to a time through Feb. 8 without incurring a fee, said Delta. The waiver involved Michigan and 19 other states expected to be hammered by the storm. The states range from Nebraska to Maine, and Wisconsin to Oklahoma.

The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard warning for the southern part of Michigan as the dense snow band travels across the state. The warning takes effect around 5 p.m. for the western part of the state and around 7 p.m. for the eastern half. The warning will last through much of the day tomorrow.

Snyder releases report on state's finances

Governor Rick Snyder released the "Citizen's Guide to Financial Health" yesterday around 3 p.m. The Governor said the report is "a plain-English, easy-to-understand look at Michigan's financial situation and the challenges ahead."

One of the more controversial parts of the report said that state employees are over-compensated compared to their private sector counterparts. Many state employees and union members are disputing the numbers in the report. The Detroit Free Press said that Snyder called the report a 'call to action':

"Here are the facts; let's solve the problem," he told 430 people who attended the Business Leaders for Michigan Summit in Lansing. "Now we can have an intelligent discussion about what we need to have to put the state on the road to success."

Snyder is expected to release his budget proposal for the state's next fiscal year on February 17th.

Red Cross looking for blood

Bad winter weather has hampered the Red Cross' blood supply. They've made pleas before, and now with a big storm bearing down on the Midwest, they're renewing those pleas. Monica Stoneking, communications manager for the American Red Cross, was quoted in today's Bay City Times:

"Those who live in the path of the storm are asked to schedule a donation time when it is safe to travel," Stoneking said. "All blood types are needed, but there is a special need for donors with O-Negative and B-Negative blood."

The Red Cross says 18,000 expected blood donations have gone uncollected over the last several weeks due to bad winter weather.

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