Weather

Wikimedia Commons / Wikimedia Commons

This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of one of the most devastating weather events in Michigan history: the Palm Sunday tornado outbreak.

It happened with virtually no warning on April 11, 1965. Killer tornadoes smashed through the Midwest over a 12-hour span, killing 271. Michigan was one of the hardest-hit states with 53 deaths.

Flickr user Mike Gifford / Flickr

One of the realities of spring in Michigan is dicey weather, and May marks the beginning of tornado season in the state. But there's a way for authorities to let us know if severe weather threatens.

It's right there on your smartphone: Wireless Emergency Alerts, or WEA.

This service came about through an agreement between cell phone providers who voluntarily signed up for this service, the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security, and a few other federal agencies.

wikimedia

Consumers Energy says the winter of "Polar Vortex 2" broke some natural gas records. 

The utility broke its 1994 record for most natural gas delivered to homes and businesses in a 24 hour period. 

That was on February 19 and 20, when temperatures dropped to 20 below zero overnight. 

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Next week’s thaw is not expected to result in flooding in Michigan. 

Forecasters predict temperatures to rise into the 40s next week. 

“With the semi-warm temperatures and the cool nights, it doesn’t look like we’re going to see significant flooding across the state of Michigan,” says Michigan State Police spokesman Ron Leix. “Our flood risk is really low this year.”

FLICKR USER MARGARETROSE4 / FLICKR

Mother Nature, with her cold temperatures, is turning out diamond dust in Northern Michigan.

Justin Arnott, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gaylord, described diamond dust as “the wintertime version of fog.”

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

GRAND HAVEN, Mich.  - Another round of winter weather is expected to make travel difficult in parts of Michigan as bitterly cold temperatures moderate somewhat.

Temperatures on Tuesday morning ranged from just above zero to the low 20s. It was 6 in Detroit, 7 in Grand Rapids and 17 in Traverse City.

NOAA

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) - For the second consecutive winter, bitter weather threatens to turn the surface of the Great Lakes into a vast frozen plain.

The federal Great Lakes research laboratory in Ann Arbor reports Friday that nearly 81 percent of the five lakes' surface area is ice-covered. On Thursday, the ice cover exceeded 85 percent.

  The lab's George Leshkevich says the small drop-off probably happened because winds broke apart some ice, creating open spots.

Snowflake.
user RachelEllen / Flickr

DETROIT - Bitterly cold weather is expected to persist across Michigan into the weekend.

Temperatures moderated from Sunday and Monday's deep freeze, with readings Tuesday morning ranging from 8 below zero in Monroe to 18 above in Ludington. Highs were expected in the low 20s.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

NEWBERRY, Mich. (AP) - An Arctic cold front has settled over Michigan, sending temperatures plunging to minus 27 in the Upper Peninsula and minus 22 in the northern Lower Peninsula.

The deep freeze Sunday came with an easing of the blowing snow that forced a number of Upper Peninsula roads to close Saturday.

FLICKR USER SHUTTERSPARKS/FLICKR

Metro Detroit is digging out from under the third biggest snowstorm in recorded history. Officially, 16.7 inches of snow have fallen.

Dr. Jeff Masters of Weather Underground joined us today. He said 1974 marked the last single-day snowfall of this magnitude.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - A winter storm has unloaded up to a foot of snow as it passed across Michigan's Lower Peninsula, snarling traffic, stranding thousands of air travelers and extending the weekend for hundreds of schools.

The storm has made driving slow and dangerous throughout the region.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

WHITE LAKE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) - This winter has yet to wallop the Detroit area, but that could change as what may be the first major snowstorm of the season heads toward southern Michigan.

  The National Weather Service in White Lake Township says snow is expected to start falling around midnight Sunday and continue for about 24 hours.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - Michigan utilities are bracing for extremely strong winds, a year after a storm put thousands of people in the dark at Christmas.

  DTE Energy spokeswoman Randi Berris says crews are on standby Wednesday in case weather forecasters are right in predicting gusts of 45 mph or higher in southeastern Michigan. Consumers Energy says it also will be ready.

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.

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