WUOMFM

weather

Wikipedia.org

If you grew up in Michigan, chances are when you thought of the very first signs of spring you thought of crocuses and robins. 

But have you noticed that in recent years, something has changed– that robins are pretty much with us all through the winter?

Why has this happened, and do we have any reason to worry about robins in this exceptionally harsh winter?

Julie Craves, director of the Rouge River Bird Observatory in Dearborn, joined us. 

Listen to the full interview above.

The Detroit automakers are moving into their fifth year of recovery after the disastrous bottoming-out of 2009 when General Motors and Chrysler filed for bankruptcy. Half a decade later, however, sales are brisk and auto loans are available. But is the future that bright? On today's show: Are there warning signs of another auto downturn? And, if so, what needs to happen to stop it?

Then, what will our rivers and roads look like once spring hits and the snow melts? We spoke with meteorologist Jim Maczko to find out.

Lake Erie is full of blooms of cyanobacteria (sometimes referred to as blue-green algae) and dead zones, and a new report is asking us to take action. What can be done to improve the health of this lake?

Also, how about adding smell to food advertising? 

First on the show, are Michigan veterans getting what they deserve in terms of benefits and support?

The Veterans' Administration says when it comes to per-capita spending on veterans, Michigan checks in at an average of just over $3,400 per vet. The national average is over $4,800. That places Michigan last in the nation.

What is the state doing about this and to make sure that veterans get all the benefits to which they're entitled?

The director of Michigan's Veterans Affairs Agency, Jeff Barnes, joined us today.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

We've all kept rather busy this winter tracking the seemingly never-ending snowfall. And, with nobody's friend – the polar vortex – hanging around all winter, nothing has melted. So there's a sizeable snow pack just waiting for the spring melt.

What are forecasters predicting in terms of river and road flooding this spring?

Jim Maczko is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service based in Grand Rapids. He joined us today to give us an idea of what to look out for as temperatures warm up.

Listen to the full interview above.

NOAA

My neighbors and I officially had our last "pond hockey" game over the weekend. We moved everything off the ice as things started to melt.

So the ice in the region has reached its peak, right? No one thinks we're going to be hit with another prolonged polar vortex, do they? 

Let's hope not.

With the most frigid part of this winter over, let's look at the record books for ice cover on the Great Lakes.

Here's what we know.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

As our long, cold, snowy winter has dragged on, one result can be seen with stunning clarity from outer space. Satellite photos prove that the Great Lakes are nearly totally covered with ice, and we're close to setting a record for the most ice cover in 34 years.

We wondered if we might break that record, and we wondered what this will mean for the Great Lakes once spring finally gets here and that ice melts.

Alan Steinman, director of the Annis Water Resources Institute at Grand Valley State University joined us today.

user woodleywonderworks / Flickr

Across parts of Michigan, you might have heard this during the torrent of snow this morning:

Marcin Szczepanski with the University of Michigan College of Engineering shot that video while on campus today.

So what is this "thundersnow" stuff?

One theory is that winter has just been partying too much:

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

With many Michigan schools racking up snow days, what's the best way to make up lost time? Adding minutes onto the school day? Or adding days at the end of the school year? Should local districts be allowed to decide for themselves or should Lansing make the decision for them?

Bridge Magazine contributing writer Ted Roelofs dug into these questions for his story in this week's Bridge.

Listen to the full interview above.

LisaW123 / Flickr

 Lots of us have made the rueful observation that it's pretty sad when we think of 28 degrees as warm weather.But that's what we've come to in this cold winter.

What caused this relative warm-up? And will the deep freeze come back?

Here to tell us more is MLive and farmerweather.com meteorologist Mark Torregrossa.

Listen to the full interview above.

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.

User / Flickr

The Livingston County chapter of the Salvation Army is out of food.

Brighton Ford is organizing an emergency food drive called "Fill-A-Ford Full of Food" Saturday with the goal of restocking the food pantry of the Salvation Army. It will run from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at Brighton VG's Fresh Market.

In recent weeks the food pantry was pulling money from a summer children's fund to purchase food from Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeast Michigan, according to Karen Swieczkowski, community relations director at Brighton Ford. Brighton Ford is spearheading tomorrow's food drive.

user kajeburns / Twitter

It's similar to a 100-year flood event. It just doesn't happen that often.

So when it does, students celebrate. That's what happened last night when the University of Michigan called off classes for the first time in 36 years. 

The student journalists over at the Michigan Daily collected the best reactions on Twitter to the news.

Here are the best stunned faces, celebratory waffles, and trips to the liquor store:

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Extreme cold temperatures are coming our way again.

The National Weather Service says this round of cold air, which will be with us through midday Wednesday, is coming from a very cold place.

The air mass and the associated surface high pressure with it is literally coming from the North Pole and heading nearly due south into the central U.S. by Tuesday. Widespread subzero lows are expected north of the Ohio River by this time, and subfreezing highs are expected well into the Deep South.

And with cold temperatures, comes snow.

We normally get around a foot of snow in southeast Michigan for the month of January. But this year the Flint and Detroit areas set snowfall records for the month.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

ALPENA, Mich. (AP) — Bitterly cold weather is lingering across Michigan, with readings below zero and more snow in the forecast for parts of the state.

The National Weather Service reports Wednesday morning it was 18 degrees below zero in Alpena in the northeastern Lower Peninsula. Frigid readings came in throughout Michigan, including 17 below in Ann Arbor and 15 below in Port Huron in the southern Lower Peninsula.

In Detroit, a reading of zero degrees was reported. And it dipped to 3 degrees below zero at Detroit Metropolitan airport in Romulus.

The bitter cold is expected to continue for several more days. In western Michigan, 3 to 5 inches of snow is forecast Wednesday and into Thursday morning. And more lake-effect snow is expected along parts of Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula.

Michigan State Police

Local goverments in southern Michigan are bracing for possible flooding.

William Byl is Kent County's Drain Commissioner.  He said how serious it becomes depends on the temperature swing and on the amount of rain.

"These kind of conditions are really the perfect storm because what you have is snowmelt combined with rain on top of the snowmelt, all falling on frozen ground. And you have no place for the water to go," Byl explained.

Purple signifies the extreme cold in the U.S.
NWS

The temperatures certainly are extreme. Last night, it was colder in Michigan than it was at the South Pole.

Parts of the state saw temperatures reach 16 below zero with wind chills exceeding 40 below zero.

The "polar vortex" has brought air to the Midwest that normally stays way up in the arctic.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

If you haven't been online in the last 24 hours, or you didn't watch it being done on Anderson Cooper's show over and over last night, then you're in for a treat.

It used to be a something kids in Alaska or in Canada's Northern Territories did for fun.

But with the combination of cold weather and social media, those of us in the Lower 48 can play too (and some of us are burning ourselves).

Life in the polar vortex allows you to do this:

So why does the boiling water suddenly turn into what appears to be a cloud of steam?

Well, it's not steam. They're just tiny ice crystals. LiveScience had Mark Seeley, a climatologist at the University of Minnesota, explains:

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.

Update: Ice storms knock out power to 294,000 in Michigan

Dec 22, 2013
weather.gov

JACKSON, Mich. (AP) - Winter has arrived in Michigan with an icy blast, sending freezing rain across a wide section of the Lower Peninsula and knocking out electrical service to 294,000 homes and businesses.

The state's largest utilities say it will be days before most of those blacked out get their power back because of the difficulty of working around ice-broken lines.

NWS

Cold temperatures and snow were expected in Michigan into next week. The lowest readings Friday morning were in the Upper Peninsula, including zero degrees in Ironwood and 1 degree in Iron Mountain.

Forecasters said lake-effect snow was possible in the U.P. and parts of western Michigan. Snow and freezing rain could make travel difficult.

Gale warnings were in effect Friday for Lake Superior, with waves expected to be 18 feet to as high as 27 feet.

NWS

IRONWOOD, Mich. (AP) — Cold temperatures are expected across Michigan after an arctic blast swept across the Northern Plains and made its way east.

In Michigan's western Upper Peninsula, temperatures in the teens were reported Thursday morning in Ironwood. In much of the rest of the state, temperatures were in the 30s to 50s, but they were expected to be in the 30s or below by Thursday evening.

A mix of snow and freezing rain is expected in places, making travel difficult. Cold weather is to continue through the weekend.

Gale warnings are in effect Thursday for Lake Superior and parts of northern Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, with high waves expected. In Lake Superior, the National Weather Service says waves of 18 feet are likely with maximum heights of up to 26 feet.

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.

Twitter

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 Cseeman / Flickr

As I grabbed my gloves and heavy coat this morning, I noted that the thermometer was 33. Just ten days ago, it was 79 degrees. That’s Michigan's weather for you — always keeping us on our toes.

With talk of snowflakes in Flint and friends in Northern Michigan grumbling on Facebook about predictions of snow on October 22, we wondered: Is Michigan facing an early winter?

Meteorologist Mark Torregrossa joins us to discuss what’s ahead for Michigan weather.

Listen to the full interview above.

User: Caneles / Flickr

It sounds like the plot of an apocalyptic Hollywood blockbuster:  the poles on the Sun are flipping.

But why is this polar flip happening? And, what does changing polarity mean for us Earthlings? We talk to MLive Meteorologist Mark Torregrossa about the sun's latest flip-flop. 

user tami.vroma / Flickr

The end of summer is at hand and we wanted to find out how the year treated Michigan farmers so far.

They were slammed in 2012 by a cold, wet spring and a hot, dry summer.

Earlier this summer we spoke with Macomb Township farmer Ken DeCock to see how things were going for him and got mixed reviews. So we wanted to check in with him to get an end-of-summer view.

He joined us today from Boyka's Farm Market in Macomb Township. Tree fruit specialist William Shane with the Southwest Michigan Research and Extension Center also joined us.

Listen to the full interview above.

It's getting close to back-to-school time. So today, we took a look at teachers -- in particular, teacher turnover, and what it can do a student's academic achievement. Teachers leaving their profession costs the nation billions of dollars each year. We ask what can be done to keep teachers teaching.

And, there have been some complaints about the cooler, rainier summer we've been having, but it turns out it's been good for our Great Lakes. Meteorologist Mark Torregrossa joined us today to tell us why.

Also, the historic Packard Plant in Detroit may be converted into a commercial, housing and entertainment complex, but is this feasible?

First on the show, it's Thursday, which means it's time for our weekly check-in with Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes.

And today he's got his eye fixed on the storm clouds that are gathering for the Detroit Institute of Arts. This particular growing cloud comes from Oakland County. 

Daniel Howes joined us today to talk about the troubles the DIA faces.

satellite map of Michigan, the Great Lakes
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

There has been a healthy degree of grousing this year by lovers of hot weather.

We had a cool and rainy spring, and certainly this summer has not been a replay of last year's hot, dry season.

But here's something to think about: the cooler, wetter weather is "good medicine" for our Great Lakes and those all-important water levels.

MLive meteorologist Mark Torregrossa joined us today to talk about why.

Listen to the full interview above.

Twitter

Where were you ten years ago when the power died?

That's what many of us in the Midwest are asking each other today.

It was ten years ago this day when the largest blackout in North America left 55 million people in 8 states and Canada in the dark.

The cost of the Blackout of 2003? Anywhere from $4-10 billion.

What changes have been made to the grid in that decade? Could a blackout like that happen again?

Maggie Koerth-Baker is a science columnist for the New York Times Magazine, the science editor at BoingBoing.net, and the author of "Before the Lights Go Out."

She joined us today from Minneapolis. 

Listen to the full interview above.

Pages