Weather

Michigan State Police

Big, often destructive storms are becoming much more frequent in Michigan.

Over the last 50 years, we've seen an 89% increase in storms that dump two or more inches of precipitation in a single day.

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

Christoper Sessums / Flickr

Almost 30,000 Michiganders still don't have power after yesterday's wind storms. The dark spots are concentrated in Wayne County, according to DTE.

Of their 180,000 customers who lost power yesterday, all but 22,000 have had it restored.

Meanwhile Consumers Energy says about 6,100 of its customers still don’t have power.

The Mackinac Bridge on a warmer day.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Strong winds are sweeping across the state today leading the Mackinac Bridge Authority to take some precautions. Workers will escort some larger vehicles across the bridge. 

From MDOT:

Currently we are experiencing winds of sufficient force in the Straits area to require an escort of certain "high profile" vehicles across the Mackinac Bridge.

Examples of high profile vehicles include pickup trucks with campers; cars with small boats, bicycles or luggage attached to the roof; Ryder or U-Haul trucks; any vehicle pulling a boat; semi-tractors with enclosed trailers and all trailers with side walls over two feet in height. High profile vehicles must be escorted.

Motorists are asked to reduce their speed to 20 miles per hour as they approach the bridge and be prepared to stop. Bridge personnel are stationed at both ends of the structure to provide instructions regarding how and when to proceed across the bridge.

Since the bridge first opened, only two vehicles have gone over the edge, according to the Associated Press and MLive's Fritz Klug. The strong winds can lead to accidents on the bridge. 

Check out the wind map for a visual on how the winds are blowing today.

The snowstorm hitting the UP on radar.
NWS

Winter is upon us and we barely had time to dig our mittens out of that box in the basement.

Our compatriots in the Northwoods are being hammered by an early snowstorm.

Officials from the National Weather Service say at least a foot of snow has fallen on parts of the Upper Peninsula and another foot or two could accumulate in some areas before the front passes through the region tomorrow.

Northern Michigan University in Marquette has closed.

More from the Associated Press:

Michigan State Police

DETROIT (AP) - A newspaper says nearly 10 billion gallons of sewer overflows were released into rivers and lakes in southeastern Michigan after a tremendous August storm.

  The Detroit Free Press says the number comes from reports to state regulators. The waste came from sanitary sewers that couldn't handle the rain and systems that combine stormwater and sewage.

  Untreated waste carries contaminants that can spoil Lake St. Clair beaches in Macomb County and put drinking water at risk. The Free Press says 10 billion gallons would equal about 20 million 50-gallon baths.

Salt trucks
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Advance word from forecasters: This winter could be a replay of the not-to-be-forgotten winter of 2013-2014.

That is not good news for counties still reeling from the costs of clearing record amounts of snow from the roads.

Roy Townsend, Managing Director of the Washtenaw County Road Commission, says the brutal winter last year cost the county nearly $1 million more than what a typical winter would cost. That's between the increased salt price, overtime pay for staff, and extra wear and tear on the equipment. 

user hyperboreal / Flickr

If you're not sure how long it's been since we've had 10 days in a row of gorgeous, sunny warm weather, MLive meterologist Mark Torregrossa has figured it out for you: four years.

Torregrossa was a guest on "Stateside with Cynthia Canty" today to talk about the gorgeous fall weather we're going to have.

He says this next stretch will see cooler mornings, with temperatures in the 40-50 degree range, with afternoons warming up into the 70s. 

As for fall foliage, you might want to move fast: Torregrossa says the leaves are about a week ahead of schedule, with peak color happening right now in the western Upper Peninsula. 

Morning storm damages Rochester Hills homes

Sep 21, 2014

ROCHESTER HILLS – The National Weather Service is reporting significant storm damage in one suburban Detroit neighborhood and is checking to see whether a tornado or a straight line wind burst is responsible.

The weather service says the storm hit the Rochester Hills neighborhood about 6 a.m. Sunday. It says the winds tore the roofs off some houses and knocked down mature trees.

The weather service says the damage happened in a six block area of the northern Detroit suburb. No injuries were reported.

Work being done on Orchard Lake Rd where a power pole fell.
DTE Energy

Three days after severe thunderstorms knocked out service to 462,000 customers, utility companies are reporting that tens of thousands of Michigan homes and businesses are still without power. More from the Associated Press: 

Detroit-based DTE Energy Co. says 89,000 of its customers were without power late Monday morning, down from 375,000 hit by Friday's storms. Some schools that lost power were closed Monday. DTE says full restoration probably will take until Tuesday or Wednesday. Wayne County has 53,000 outages and Oakland County has 19,000. Crews from Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, New York and Tennessee are helping. Jackson-based CMS Energy Corp.'s Consumers Energy unit says about 580 customers were without power Monday morning, down from more than 87,000 affected.

DTE said the storms were among "the most damaging in the companies' history."  

Wind gusts of more than 75 miles per hour caused more than 2,000 downed power lines across DTE’s Southeast Michigan service area. 

 

DETROIT – DTE Energy says it could take a few more days before electricity is restored to thousands of people who lost power in southeastern Michigan during a storm that carried 75 mph winds that killed a suburban Detroit man.

DTE says 206,000 customers still had no electricity Sunday morning, down from a peak of 375,000 following the Friday night storm. About 95,000 were in Wayne County, followed by 47,000 in Oakland County, 25,000 in Macomb County and 20,000 in Washtenaw County.

DTE says full restoration may take until Tuesday or Wednesday.

Strong storms battered parts of  Michigan Friday.  

On the southeast side of the state, 385,000 DTE Energy customers lost electric service last night; about 365,000 customers remain without power.  

Wind gusts of more than 75 miles per hour caused more than 2,000 downed power lines across DTE’s service area. The utility is bringing in crews from Ohio, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania to repair the damage.

Consumers Energy says about 55,000 of their customers are waiting for power restoration. Spokeswoman Debra Dodd says Kalamazoo was particularly hard hit.

Michigan Radio

More than a week after massive flooding ravaged parts of metro Detroit, emergency  crews and residents are still working around the clock, clearing roads and cleaning up flooded basements. 

Gov. Rick Snyder says he's asking the Federal Emergency Management Agency to do a preliminary damage assessment. That's the first step to potentially getting major federal disaster aid.   

Meanwhile, suburbs like St. Clair Shores are just now digging out from all the leftover trash and debris. Doug Haag is the city's financial director.  

Wikimedia Commons

We can't prevent an extreme weather event like the deluge that flooded some streets in Metro Detroit last week. However, we can prepare for them. But how?

Crain’s Detroit Business Lansing reporter Chris Gautz did some research, and found that green infrastructure could be the answer. By using sustainable methods, he says we could keep water from getting to storm drains.

Some examples:

·         Pervious concrete - allows water to drain through the concrete into the ground

·         Gray water recycling systems -  water can be reused in sprinkler systems.

·         Green roofs or rain gardens - the water is used instead of going down the drain

Guatz wrote in his article that the inherent weakness in our current storm system is the amount of concrete covering the ground.

When parking lots were developed, the idea was to get the water off the parking lot as fast as possible. So they're designed to force the water into the drains.

“Go look out at a big parking lot and think when it rains, that rain can’t go into that concrete,” Gautz said. “It’s got to go somewhere, and it’s going into your basements.”

Gautz quoted a 2001 report from SEMCOG that found between $14 billion and $26 billion would be needed by 2030 to maintain and improve the sewer infrastructure.

Gautz said that now is the time to implement new strategies for future weather events.

“You know these pipes are getting older and the system is getting older, and you keep putting that much pressure on it and eventually something could break,” Gautz said.

*Listen to the full interview with Chris Gautz above. 

user:yooperann / Flickr

Early bursts of autumn color have been seen across Michigan. Are the leaves trying to tell us something?

MLive and farmerweather.com meteorologist Mark Torregrossa said what we are really seeing is the stress in trees. Torregrossa spoke with some experts about it. Though dryness can cause early autumn colors, experts say the wetness we’ve experienced can cause stress in trees.

“Basically, what I’m hearing from the tree experts is that the early color we are seeing is the stress caused from a drought a couple of years ago, the heavy flooding we’ve had, and maybe even the cold snowy winters,” Torregrossa said.

Torregrossa said, as he looks at weather patterns, he is seeing an early autumn and winter.

He added that the progression of El Nino will have a big implication for what's to come for our winter, but we still have to wait about a month or two.

*Listen to the full story above. 

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) - Officials in Oakland County have estimated flood damage from Monday's rain storm at $337 million, but warn the amount could increase as more assessments are received.

Communities in Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties are trying to determine how much the final costs will be after more than 6 inches of rain fell in some areas.

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson says Friday that "the damage estimate does not reflect the magnitude of the task that lies ahead" for residents.

MDOT / via Facebook

Metro Detroit got hit with a record-breaking burst of rain Monday night—up to six inches in some spots.

The deluge left highways flooded, motorists stranded and thousands of basements swamped.

As the waters receded, it was time to clean up and assess the damage. Here’s a report from one of the hardest-hit areas: southeast Oakland County.

The state's busiest interchange, underwater

The I-75/696 interchange is the right at the heart of Metro Detroit’s freeway system—the busiest interchange in the state.

Lex Dodson / via Instagram

Late yesterday afternoon, it started raining hard over much of southeast Michigan.

When it finally let up over 3 hours later, a record-breaking 4.57 inches of rain had fallen at Detroit Metro Airport. Some spots got even more.

According to WDIV meteorologist Paul Gross, it was “one of the heaviest single rainfall totals in Detroit weather history.”

The National Weather Service had anticipated heavy afternoon showers, and warned of possible flooding in some areas.

WHITE LAKE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - A series of severe thunderstorms has hit Michigan's Lower Peninsula, packing winds of up to 50 miles per hour that knocked down trees, ripped roofs off buildings and blacked out at least 150,000 homes and businesses.

The National Weather Service says a trained spotter reports 1.75-inch hail struck Oakland County's White Lake Township in suburban Detroit on Sunday afternoon. It reports 50 mph wind gusts in neighboring Macomb County.

A farm in southeast Michigan.
Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says Michigan and other northern states planted a record amount of corn, wheat, and soybeans this year, and the primary reason is climate change.

"We are clearly seeing more growing degree days and a longer growing season in the state of Michigan," says Jim Byrum, President of the Michigan Agri-Business Association, "which means some of those crops can be produced further north."

Wikimedia Commons

MLive and farmerweather.com meteorologist Mark Torregrossa’s report on lightning shows that Michigan is one of the most dangerous areas in America during a storm, ranking 13th in lightning fatalities by state.

More than 100 people in Michigan have been killed by lightning since 1959.

Torregrossa says the reason for the high number is that storms often occur when Michiganders are outdoors.

“It’s boating. It’s fishing. It’s camping. And then it’s playing outdoor sports,” Torregrossa says.

The sports that have most lightning fatalities are soccer and golf.

Torregrossa says if you hear thunder or see lightning, you should be inside.

“Lightning can travel quite a distance from a storm,” Torregrossa says. “In fact, 90% of all lightning injuries and deaths happen outside of the thunderstorm.”

So the moments before and after storms are dangerous times as well.

Torregrossa adds that counting the time between lightning and thunder is very accurate.

“About every five seconds, the lightning is about a mile to maybe two miles away,” Torregrossa says.

And that, he says, is too close for you to be outside.

*Listen to full interview above.

sun rays shining through clouds
Piccolo Namek / Creative Commons

Summer will officially arrive Saturday.  

MLive and Farmerweather.com meteorologist Mark Torregrossa says the coming summer looks really nice, despite the thunder and rain we've been seeing.

Torregrossa says there is a hot dome of air creating a stationary front over Michigan, which is bringing in the storm system that spawned tornados in Nebraska, and he says the storms could continue over  the weekend.

He also says El Nino may have an effect on our summer.

El Nino is when a large part of the Pacific over South America and Australia begins to warm up more than normal – which could help the second half of our summer stay cooler and lead to a warmer and drier winter.

Torregrossa predicts overall precipitation this summer will likely be normal.

*Listen to full interview above. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Lansing residents will get some additional help next time a massive ice storm knocks out their electricity.

Last December, about 40,000 Lansing Board of Water and Light customers lost their power during a pre-Christmas ice storm. Thousands spent the holiday in the dark as utility crews tried to restore power.   

The heavy ice yanked the wiring out of about 1,000 homes and businesses. Homeowners had to track down electricians during the holidays to reconnect homes to electric meters before power could be restored. Many had to wait 11 to 12 days.

User jen-the-librarian / Flickr

OK, maybe you’ve seen the picture: sunny, 80-degree weather and people lying out in the sand – maybe even getting sunburned on the shores of Lake Superior. And maybe, there in the background, huge pieces of ice still floating around in the lake.

John Lenters is a climatologist at Ann Arbor-based LimnoTech, an environmental consulting firm.

Lenters says says because of the size and depth of the lakes, it will take a while for them to warm up after the extremely cold winter.

The ice is melting, but Lake Superior warms up slowly before it hits 39 degrees Fahrenheit.

*Listen to the interview above. 

youtube

The record-setting cold that gripped Michigan last winter continues to leave its mark. There are still ice floes showing up on the shore of Lake Superior.  

Maybe you’ve seen the pictures on social media and wondered if they were even real.

But it’s true.

Some of the warmest temperatures of the year are drawing people to the beach in the Upper Peninsula, where over the weekend they found abundant ice floating just offshore at Marquette.

imgr

Spring is here and warmer air has finally come to the region, but we're still surrounded by five refrigerators – the five Great Lakes.

Lake Michigan broke a record this past winter for total ice coverage, so you know there won't be many people swimming in the lake over Memorial Day weekend.

The lakes will, however, have plenty of fisherman on them. And with the cold water and warm air, they might experience fog.

But have you ever seen a fog bank like this?

user doodlepress / creative commons

Emergency sirens sounded across much of Southeast Michigan during thunderstorm and tornado warnings yesterday, just as many schools were letting students out for the day. This caused  some parents to wonder: What’s being done with my kid?

We talked with Greg Gray, the superintendent of Brighton Area Schools, about how the district dealt with Monday's severe weather.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Lansing Board of Water and Light plans to hire someone to handle planning for future emergencies.

One of the biggest criticisms BWL received after last December’s major power outage was that the utility wasn't communicating well with those most affected.

About 40,000 people lost power during the Dec. 21 ice storm. Many had to wait 10 days or more to get their lights turned back on.

A recent report claims the utility also failed to keep in touch with local governments, which were also struggling to recover from a major pre-Christmas ice storm.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Climate change is making Michigan farmers more vulnerable to dramatic weather shifts, according to a new report.

The U.S. Global Change Research Program released a report this morning claiming climate change is no longer a future threat but is a reality now.

Helium weather balloon being launched in a field
Wolke Benutzer

It feels like we've finally emerged from the record-setting cold winter, doesn't it? So, as we look ahead to spring and summer what's in store? Mark Torregrossa is MLive meteorologist and he joined us today.

*Listen to the full interview above.

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