snow

Sami / Flickr

Those of us who lived through last winter are now familiar with the term "polar vortex." But are we using that phrase correctly? Sara Schultz is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in White Lake. Exactly what IS the polar vortex? And what is it not?

Listen to Sara Schultz above

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Lansing City Council last night approved an ordinance that will require home and business owners to shovel snow from sidewalks faster. 

The capitol city’s old ordinance, which involved mailing citations to property owners, sometimes took so long the snow would melt before the property owner received the notice.    

The new ordinance speeds up the process to 48 hours. 

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero says one death last year can be blamed on city residents not shoveling their sidewalks after a snowstorm.

“Life and limb is what’s at stake," says Bernero. 

Early snowfall and cold temperatures are causing a hold up on dog sled training in the Upper Peninsula.
User Frank Kovalchek / flickr.com

Though seemingly counterintuitive, early snowfall and cold temperatures are causing a hold up on dog sled training in the Upper Peninsula.

The dogs at Team Evergreen Kennel in Skandia Township were excited when the first snow fell, as Tim Wood, Lead Handler, explained to Jennifer Perez from WLUC-TV:

You will let [the dogs] out into the backyard that first snow fall and they just tear around like demons because they know what this time of year means and they get really excited.

Last week, a several-day storm brought up to 42.5 inches of snow to parts of the Upper Peninsula. The dog teams need packed snow to travel on, so they rely on groomed trails for training. Musher Lisa Dietzen explains why trails haven't been groomed yet:

"Some of the trails that we have to use are opened from the snowmobile trail and our snowmobile trail won't open until after gun season, which is another two weeks. So, some of those trails that we rely on to be groomed out aren't going to be groomed out any time soon."

The mushers at Team Evergreen say they're limited as to where they can run their dogs without these groomed trails. For right now, they're running them on a small track on their property.

Michigan's big dog sled race, The UP 200, is scheduled to take place from February 12 - 16.

-Ari Sandberg, Michigan Radio Newsroom

=Paul / Flickr

This week we're exploring stories from writers in the Upper Peninsula. Today we have a poem from Marquette resident Russell Thornburn, the first Upper Peninsula poet laureate.

This poem is from a series called "Burden of Place," about surviving the cold UP winters.

This poem is called, "When One Tugs at a Single Thing in Nature, He Finds It Attached to the Rest of the World." It's about a man who is stuck in the cold after his car breaks down.  

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

All-time snowfall records could be broken this week in Michigan.

A storm blowing through the state tonight is expected to dump two to eight inches of snow.

What’s on the line this week may very well be bragging rights for generations of people in Flint and Detroit.

Flint is just about five inches short of its all-time snowiest winter. 82.9 inches fell during the winter of 1974-75. So far this winter, Flint has been buried under 77.3 inches of snow. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Lansing is stepping up enforcement of its snow removal ordinance.

About 5% of Lansing sidewalks, roughly 22 miles, are still covered in snow in violation of city ordinance

Beginning today, Lansing police officers are ticketing homeowners and businesses that haven’t shoveled their sidewalks clean of snow.

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero says this is a safety issue for school children and the elderly.

“This winter….these difficult winter conditions are harder on nobody more than the walker,” says Bernero.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

JACKSON – A fresh wave of snow has fallen on much of Michigan over the weekend, but for once the worst of the weather is elsewhere in the region as CMS Energy Corp. dispatches dozens of its employees to help with a severe ice storm expected to hit Kentucky.

Slippery streets and highways have caused numerous accidents in Michigan, including one in which a car hit a state police patrol car handling an earlier accident on Interstate 696 in Southfield.

WWJ-AM says the trooper escaped injury in the crash. Traffic was halted on eastbound I-696.

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.

Morguefile

Michigan's record snowfalls and cold are inconvenient for everyone, but they are especially difficult for people with disabilities.

The snow and ice still on Michigan sidewalks can trap people with disabilities at home or even put them in danger. Just getting to work or to a doctor's appointment can be daunting.

Outdoor Power Equipment Institute

If you ask just about anyone in Michigan about the weather this winter, chances are he or she will swear there has never been this much snow.

Well, yes and no. Some cities shattered their snowfall records in January, but in some parts of the state, January snowfall was pretty much business as usual.

Let's see who has legit bragging rights when it comes to snowfall.

MLive meteorologist Mark Torregrossa, who also runs the site farmerweather.com, joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

Cold temps cover 79 percent of Great Lakes in ice

Feb 9, 2014
National Park Service

CHICAGO (AP) - This winter's bitter cold temperatures in the Midwest have covered a stunning 79 percent of the Great Lakes in ice.

It's not a record, but it's well above the long-term average of about 51 percent.

Lake Michigan is about 63 percent frozen. And the second largest lake in the system, Huron, is about 85 percent covered.

Lake Erie, at 93 percent, has the most ice cover.

The data comes from the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory.

Rachel Kramer / Creative Commons

It was a snowy January in Michigan; the snowiest on record for Flint and Detroit, according the the National Weather Service.

“We’ve had our fair share too, that’s for sure,” said Jared Sanders, assistant district supervisor of the Kalamazoo district’s water resources division. The division is a part of Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality.

I can vouch for it; huge piles of plowed snow are filling up the parking lots of many businesses here in Grand Rapids too.

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.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - The weather outside continues to be frightful for parts of Michigan even after some areas experienced their snowiest Januaries.

The National Weather Service says up to seven inches of snow is expected to cover the Detroit area Saturday, a day after the region ended January with 39.1 inches of snow -- its snowiest month ever.

Meteorologist Steven Freitag says the previous record was 38.4 in February 1908.

Flint's 32.9 inches of snow also was a January record.

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.

Virginia Gordan

Michigan faces dangerously cold wind chill conditions this week, according to the National Weather Service.

Nancy Cain is a spokesperson for AAA Michigan. She says they've responded to 25,000 calls since the snow and cold began on New Year's Day.

Cain says motorists have called for help with spinouts, fender benders, crashes, "out of gas," and "can't starts."

She expects even more road problems in the next few days because people who had previously stayed home will be returning to work.

Cain says even when the snow has stopped, the combination of extreme cold and wind makes driving dangerous.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

This time the forecasters did not cry wolf. We got slammed by snow.

Now that the snow has fallen, we’re looking at winds and dangerous cold.

What's ahead and when will we see something resembling a more "typical" Michigan winter?

For the answers we turned to MLive meteorologist Mark Torregrossa, who also runs farmerweather.com.

I just got back yesterday from nearly two weeks in Ireland, and we were checking on Torregrossa’s reports as we got ready to fly back yesterday -- wondering if we were going to beat the snow and be able to land. The answer was "yes." He was spot-on in calling what was going to happen and when.

*Listen to the audio above.

Taryn Nitz / Instagram

People are digging out from the snowstorm in much of Michigan today. 

So did this snowstorm break records in Michigan?

In Detroit, 10.6 inches fell during the storm, not enough to crack the top-10 list for snowstorms in this area.

Here are the biggest snowfalls recorded in the Detroit area according to the National Weather Service. Most of these storms occurred prior to 1930.

If you haven’t noticed that much of our state has been semi-paralyzed by the snowstorm, then I assume you are reading from Florida. That actually happened yesterday. Someone called while I was shoveling to ask if we had any snow. When I sputtered with amazement, it turned out my caller was in Naples, where it was 82 degrees.

He had once been in politics, and while my hands froze, we talked briefly about politics and the weather and a man few remember today, Michael Bilandic. He had been elected mayor of Chicago in 1977, after the legendary first Mayor Daley dropped dead.

He was at first very popular, and his political future seemed assured. But exactly 35 years ago this month, Chicago was hit by a record blizzard. Think what we’ve got is bad?

Chicago was hit with more than 20 inches in less than two days, and the city wasn’t up for the challenge. Snow wasn’t cleared, people couldn’t get to work, and the mayor couldn’t keep his promises to clear parking lots and keep the airports open. Unfortunately for him, he had to face an election that spring, and with the weather disaster as the main issue, he lost.

I thought of him because Gov. Rick Snyder also mishandled a weather situation last month, when hundreds of thousands of people lost power, light and heat. The governor was nowhere to be seen.

Sami / Flickr

Snow has covered the state.

Up to 16 inches of snow was on the ground in Flint last night.

Even more snow is expected today in addition to extreme wind chills.

The wind chill could drop to 15 below to 30 degrees below zero today.

On top of that, more snow is in the forecast today for the region.

In West Michigan, 6 to 8 inches of snow could fall by tomorrow morning.  

Classes have been canceled at Michigan State University, Western Michigan University, Eastern Michigan University and Wayne State University.

Hundreds of schools and many state offices are closed today.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder says Michigan has put out every available road crew and has increased state police patrols in response to the heavy snowfall and the deep freeze forecast to follow it.

Snyder says Michigan residents can help, too, by looking in on friends and neighbors while staying off roads as much as possible.

A foot of snow was on the ground already by Sunday evening in parts of the Lower Peninsula, with more on the way.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - The harshest winter conditions in 20 years are heading for Michigan's Lower Peninsula, with up to 15 inches of snow forecast for parts of the state followed by temperatures diving as low as minus 15.

The National Weather Service predicts "the coldest temperatures Southeast Michigan has experienced in about 20 years."

It says snowfall will total 8-15 inches by late Sunday and a drop in temperatures of up to 45 degrees by Monday.

Michigan residents have been crowding stores seeking supplies.

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.

Driverless cars might just be a futurist's dream-no longer. The University of Michigan has announced its plans to bring a fleet of networked, driverless cars to Ann Arbor by the year 2021. We have the details on today's show.

And the temperatures are falling and parts of Michigan have snow on the ground. We asked if winter has already arrived.

Also, the Farm Bill passed last January took an important subsidy away from organic farmers. What does the loss of this subsidy mean to organic farmers in Michigan? And does a farm have to go through the trouble and expense of getting certified to be organic?

First on the show, it's been less than a week since voters in three very different Michigan cities all approved ballot initiatives allowing small amounts of marijuana for personal use on private property.

And that has pro-marijuana advocates hoping those votes will boost pressure on state lawmakers to legalize or decriminalize pot.

Michigan Public Radio Network's Lansing correspondent Jake Neher joined us today to give an overview of what efforts are underway.

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Time for a little "Told ya so!" from MLive Meteorologist Mark Torregrossa. Back on Halloween, he predicted a very early dose of lake-effect snow and  temps that feel more like Christmas than mid-November.

And, looking at the weather around the state for this November 11th, it does seem that he called it.

Meteorologist Mark Torregrossa joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Michigan veterans get little benefits compared to other states

"This Veterans Day, Michigan has the dubious distinction of having its military veterans among those receiving the least government benefits of any in the 50 states. Michigan’s more than 650,000 veterans get about $3,400 on average in benefits. That's compared with a national average of nearly $5,000 a year," Steve Carmody reports.

Click here to see what Michigan lawmakers are doing to help veterans

Senate committee will investigate if teachers are following right to work laws

A new state Senate committee will look at how teacher unions are complying with Michigan’s controversial right-to-work law this week. As the Detroit Free Press reports,

The right-to-work laws prohibit the financial contribution to a union as a condition of employment. . . Democrats and officials with the Michigan Education Association call the committee a politically motivated exercise meant to beat up on unions. . . . The Mackinac Center has filed suit with the Michigan Employment Relations Commission on behalf of eight teachers who say they have been unable to leave their union because they didn’t withdraw in August.
 

UP could get 6 inches of snow

"A cold weather system is bearing down on Lake Superior. . .  The weather service forecasts some of the heaviest snow near Munising along the Upper Peninsula's Lake Superior shoreline, with about 4 to 6 inches accumulating by Monday afternoon. One to 3 inches could fall in parts of northern Lower Michigan," the Associated Press reports.

If you are in a part of Michigan that gets lake effect snow, you might want to get your snow shovel out from the back of the garage.

 MLive Meteorologist Mark Torregrossa thinks we could be in for an early dose of lake effect snow.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Storm dumps at least 6 inches on Michigan

A wet snow storm dropped at least 6 inches of snow on part of Michigan. As the Associated Press reports,

"The National Weather Service says as of Wednesday morning 6 inches fell in the Grand Haven and Muskegon areas, while 5 inches fell between Lansing and Jackson. Four to 5 inches fell in Grand Rapids. Four inches fell in some Detroit suburbs and Saginaw," the Associated Press reports.

Low income earners could see bigger tax refunds under bill

"Low-income Michiganders would see bigger state income tax refunds under a bill in the state Legislature. Governor Rick Snyder and lawmakers aggressively cut the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit in recent years. The legislation would raise the credit to 20 percent of what the federal government offers. Right now, it’s at six percent," Jake Neher reports.

Mike Duggan announces run for Detroit mayor

The former Detroit Medical Center executive and Wayne County prosecutor, Mike Duggan has officially announced that he will be running for Detroit mayor. According to the Associated Press, "[Duggan] says he'll use his managerial and government experience to help turn around Detroit's finances and improve poor public services."

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

ALLEGAN, Mich. (AP) - Western Michigan is cleaning up after a winter storm that brought 15 inches or more of snow in some areas, and the National Weather Service says up to 10 inches of fresh snow is possible through Monday night.

The weather service says parts of Allegan, Kent, Ottawa and Van Buren counties got more than 15 inches between Wednesday night and Saturday night. It says fresh snow will start falling Sunday, bringing two to four inches inland and localized accumulations of up to 10 inches along Lake Michigan.

Ingham County

U.S. 23 was shut down in both directions just south of Flint after a multi-vehicle accident was caused by a snow squall. At least 20 vehicles were involved. The Detroit News reports traffic is back up and running on northbound 23 :

A dispatcher at the Flint post of the Michigan State Police said traffic was moving again on northbound U.S. 23 as of 2 p.m., and that southbound would be reopened as soon as several cars were towed from the roadway.

Crews from the Genesee County Road Commission were also called in to erect barricades to move traffic away from the area.

And WOOD-TV reports that weather conditions caused a shut down on I-94 westbound near Paw Paw, Michigan just before 2 p.m. when two semi-trucks collided.

The National Weather Service reports that snow is expected to continue to fall across much of the state into tomorrow.

As a strong cold front moves offshore over the Atlantic, the cold air behind it will help produce lake effect snow across the Great Lakes region on Thursday and Friday. As much as 5-10 inches of lake effect snow is possible through Thursday night, with additional accumulation expected on Friday. In addition, temperatures 20-40 degrees below normal are forecast for the Upper Midwest.

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