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.

Read more
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.

Auto/Economy
6:14 pm
Mon January 31, 2011

General Motors gets back into Superbowl advertising

General Motors is jumping back into advertising during the Superbowl.  GM will likely spend $15,000,000  on ads focusing on its Chevrolet brand.

Many car companies like Ford Motor Company are using social media and Internet-based advertising more and more.  But analyst Ed Kim of AutoPacific says Superbowl ads still generate a lot more buzz.

"Any automaker advertising during the Superbowl is certainly going to have a whole lot of exposure to a whole lot of people all across America," says Kim.

Kim says GM's current marketing czar, Joel Ewanick, used to work for Hyundai, so he has experience using the Superbowl to improve a car company's image and sales.   At the peak of the recession, Hyundai began a highly successful campaign which allowed people to return Hyundai cars if they lost their jobs.  Kim says Hyundai used the campaign to good effect in its Superbowl ads.

GM did not advertise during the Superbowl last year and the year before.  The automaker does plan a social media campaign in conjunction with the Superbowl.  GM will release its Superbowl ads early to its Facebook fans.

Kim says that will generate some extra buzz for GM.

The ads will focus on the Chevrolet brand.   Chevy generates about 70% of GM's sales in the U.S.

Auto/Economy
6:04 pm
Mon January 31, 2011

Chrysler loses money in 2010 but gives performance bonuses anyway

Chrysler lost $650 million in 2010, primarily as a result of high interest payments on its government loans.

It's a far different result from the other automaker that received federal bailout loans, General Motors, which posted a healthy profit in 2010.  And GM paid back a significant portion of its loans from cash reserves and proceeds from its Initial Public Stock Offering.

But Chrysler is a much smaller company than GM, and its sales were still weak last year.  That means less revenue to lower the debt burden.   

Chrysler's CEO Sergio Marchionne says, "We’ve got more than a billion in interest costs a year, which are effectively chewing up the operating profits that we’ve got."

Marchionne  says he hopes to secure private loans to pay off the federal loans by the end of this year.

On the plus side, Chrysler has entered the new year with 16 new or significantly remodeled vehicles, just as U.S. auto sales are improving.

Despite not being able to turn a profit, Marchionne says the company met or exceeded all of its targets last year.  He says everyone pitched in to help Chrysler refresh its vehicle lineup in record time, and implement a new cost-saving manufacturing system. 

"I think it would been absolutely inexcusable on our part not to recognize what our people have done," he said during an earnings conference call with analysts and media.

The publication Automotive News reports Chrysler UAW workers will get payments of $750 each.

GM workers are expected to get actual profit-sharing checks.  GM releases its fourth quarter and full 2010 year results later in February.

Ford workers will get an average $5,000 each after the company posted its best profit in 11 years.

Read more
Politics
5:48 pm
Mon January 31, 2011

Michigan Egyptians voice support for protestors

Egyptians in Michigan are voicing their support for anti-government protestors in that country.

Members of the newly-formed American Egyptian Muslim Society issued a statement of support Monday for continued demonstrations against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

The group says it affirms the “non-violent” portions of the movement for “political and social reform” in Egypt.

Shereef Akeel, an Egyptian-American civil rights lawyer, says the protesters come from all segments of Egyptian society.

“We’re witnessing a collaborative effort by a people of different religions, different persuasions, different economic classes…poor, rich…different worshippers from different denominations, all in the streets together.”

Akeel says he never dreamed the Egyptian protests would turn into a possible revolution.

He says it’s understandable the U.S. would be concerned about a potential “vacuum of power” if Mubarak is overthrown. But he maintains the diversity of the demonstrators shows it’s possible the country has a moderate, secular future.

Medicine
5:43 pm
Mon January 31, 2011

Michigan Attorney General praises 'unconstitutional' ruling of nation's health care reform law

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette
(courtesy Michigan Attorney General's office)

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is praising Monday’s ruling by a federal judge calling the health care reform law unconstitutional.

Michigan is among 26 states which sued to stop the law from taking effect.

Schuette says the law’s mandate that all Americans buy health insurance is an overreach by the federal government. 

"This is a big decision to protect the Constitution and to defend the rights of Michigan taxpayers."

 Schuette expects the U.S. Supreme Court will eventually have to step in to decide whether the federal Health Care Reform law is constitutional.

Politics
5:30 pm
Mon January 31, 2011

Snyder report: state workers making more than twice their private sector counterparts

Legislators are looking for places to trim the budget as they stare at a $1.8 billion budget hole.

Reducing state employee compensation is on the list.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder released a report today that says public employees are making more than twice their private sector counterparts.

The Detroit Free Press says the "Citizen’s Guide to Michigan’s Financial Health," may be sending a signal about "one way the new governor expects to address...the budget shortfall." From the Freep:

He said the overall compensation of the average private sector workers fell 13% from 2000-09 while rising 19% for state employees and 13% for local government workers. For state workers, the average annual compensation -- $53,453 in salary, $31,623 in fringes and $13,000 for insurance-- was more than twice that of the private sector, the report said.

The governor was quoted as saying, "I'd be careful about over generalizing on this data but it does show an important trend that needs to be addressed."

Rick Pluta from the Michigan Public Radio Network reports:

Public employee unions and advocates for human services question some of the data used in the report. They also say they’d like to see Snyder’s plans for investing in schools and infrastructure, as well as protecting people hurt by the economy.

Education
4:48 pm
Mon January 31, 2011

Detroit Public Schools looks to open boarding school in 2012

A new DPS public boarding school could open in 2012
Sarah Hulett Michigan Radio

The Detroit Public Schools wants to open a public boarding school for the 2012-13 academic year.  But first the district  needs to find a charter operator to run the school.

Jennifer Mrozowski, a spokeswoman for the district, says the boarding school will serve high school students:

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Domestic terrorism
4:22 pm
Mon January 31, 2011

Details emerge about attempted attack at Dearborn mosque

Suspect Roger Stockham

Dearborn Police have released more details about an attempted terrorist attack at one of the country’s largest mosques.
 
Police arrested 63-year-old Roger Stockham at the Islamic Center of America last Monday. The trunk of Stockham’s car was packed with high-powered fireworks.
 

Read more
Politics
3:56 pm
Mon January 31, 2011

Pure Michigan campaign heads for a House hearing

The Pure Michigan campaign will run out of money mid-year without an infusion of more funds.

A state House committee will hold its first hearing tomorrow on a plan to tap into a state-operated venture capital fund to keep the Pure Michigan campaign on the air for the rest of 2011.

Earlier efforts to come up with an acceptable fee or tax to pay for the campaign have failed.

Read more

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