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Still not sure what the Affordable Care Act means or what it does or doesn’t do? You’re not alone. Politics aside, we took a closer look at Obamacare and what it all means for you. And, the unseasonable cool weather in Michigan is probably good for you, but not so good for the crops. Meteorologist Mark Torregrossa joined us today to talk about what is causing it. And, a Detroit native joined us today to tell us how he sees the city's bankruptcy as a new opportunity. Also, the fourth annual Upper Peninsula book tour is about to begin. We spoke with a couple Michigan authors who will be participating. First on the show, by now you’ve heard a bit about Detroit’s Chapter 9 bankruptcy filing. About half of Detroit’s nearly $20 billion in debt is due to shortfalls in the funds for retiree benefits. According to emergency manager Kevyn Orr’s estimates, the pension funds are behind by about $3.5 billion. Unfunded health care obligations are pegged at about $5.7 billion. Detroit is not unique in its unfunded pension and retiree health care obligations. Other municipalities in the state are also behind. Anthony Minghine is the chief operating officer of Michigan municipal league. He joined us today.

Tony Brown

Right on cue, the Ann Arbor Art Fairs opened during the hottest week we’ve had yet this summer. According to the National Weather Service, an excessive heat warning is in effect this afternoon through Friday, with heat index values of 105 degrees in southeast Michigan today. There is a slight chance of severe thunderstorms today and tonight throughout southeast Michigan. Mark Torregrossa from MLive reports that severe weather is likely – strong winds and hail – in the Upper Peninsula today....

Flickr

No matter where you go in Michigan this week, it seems the hot weather is a prime topic of conversation. When you pop your head out of the door first thing in the morning and it's already 83 degrees and there's nowhere to go but up, that is some hot weather. We wondered how this week fit into Michigan's "hot weather history," so we turned to MLive meteorologist Mark Torregrossa. He also has the website farmerweather.com which will give you everything you want to know about the weather. Listen to the full interview above.

Jane Doughnut / Creative Commons

This has certainly been a wet and muggy summer. Michigan farmers endured a hot and dry summer in 2012, so we wondered what the soggy summer of 2013 is doing to crops and to farmers. Is it better than the scorcher of 2012? Ken DeCock is a third-generation farmer in Macomb Township where his family owns Boyka's Farm Market. He joined us today to give us the farmer's-eye view of our weather. Listen to the full interview above.

Flooding in Ann Arbor after last night's rain.
user gerbsumich / Twitter

Southeast Michigan was hit with torrential downpours last night and social media was abuzz with photos and videos. In Ann Arbor, the city turned into a bit of a water park: Other people water skiied behind cars. Roads basically turned into rivers for a time: http://youtu.be/kOt6bz2SMw0 As fast as the rains came, they moved on, and the water began to recede. Today, crews and residents are left to clean up downed trees and power lines. From the Associated Press: DTE Energy Co. says Friday...

@smartinWNTV
Susie Martin Wx / Twitter

The Associated Press reports that a derecho could create several storms in the Midwest with wind gusts reaching close to 100 mph: The National Weather Service says derechos occur once or twice a year in the central U.S. with winds of at least 75 mph. The storms maintain their intensity for hours as they sweep across vast distances, and can trigger tornadoes and large hail. Meteorologists project possible derechos in Milwaukee, Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland and Pittsburgh metro areas. That's the...

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

This post was updated as we learned news related to the rising waters in West and mid-Michigan. To see how events unfolded from Friday through Sunday night, scroll down and read up. To read about current news related to the flooding, see this new post . Sunday, April 21st, 9:30 p.m. At nearly 22 feet, Michigan’s longest river is very near where the National Weather Service is predicting it will crest in Grand Rapids. The Grand River’s flood stage there is 18 feet. City officials were confident the waste water treatment plant (that serves around a dozen other neighboring communities) will make it through the night, thanks in part to a massive sandbag wall lining the perimeter. Over the weekend the city moved around $3 million dollars in equipment that’s not needed for the emergency to drier locations, just in case. The flooding means the plant is processing more than triple the usual amount of water. Over the last three days, the city says the plant has treated 150 million gallons of water a day, compared to an average of 42 million gallons a day. People are still being asked to conserve water; take shorter showers, hold off on washing laundry and dishes. “We expect to be safe through the night,” the city’s Environmental Services Manager Mike Lunn said in a written statement . “The combined performance of our flood walls, our pumps, professional staff, and volunteers has been truly amazing. We must, however, continue to be diligent in monitoring the situation,” Lunn said. The city is no longer calling on people to help fill and move sandbags, for now. “I can’t possibly imagine what else we could do to react to this situation,” Mayor George Heartwell said, “We realize that things could change dramatically in the next few days with more rain or if issues associated with structures – such as buildings, walls, or bridges - arise.” The crest will head to Grandville soon, where the city library is now taking on some water in the basement. In Lowell, upstream from Grand Rapids, the water is already beginning to recede. There’s been very limited access into the city, with a number of bridges closed. But the barricades are predicted to move off Main Street before the Monday morning commute. Sunday 4:30 p.m. Electricity is being rerouted in Grand Rapids because of the flooded Grand River. Officials from Consumers Energy said Sunday there are four high voltage distribution lines that run just under the Fulton Street bridge. The water is high enough there's a concern that big trees or other debris floating down the river could snag the lines and cause safety concerns so they’ve de-energeized the lines. Electrical services have not been impacted because of the move. Once the river recedes they’ll reopen the bridge. But officials couldn’t estimate how long that will be. The Grand River is expected to crest Monday around 2 a.m. at 22.3 feet. At a press conference Sunday afternoon Mayor George Heartwell thanked the hundreds of volunteers who’ve been filling and stockpiling 6,000 sandbags an hour over the weekend. He called for more volunteers this afternoon and evening. “Even though we’re the most incredible volunteering city in the world, we need more,” Heartwell said, “Please help us protect our city.” City-owned buildings have already been lined with the bags. So the 50,000 that remain are primarily for residents and business owners who need then, “or the possibility that the skies open up again this week, we get a ton of rain and we get a resurgence of these levels.” Rain is in the forecast as early as Tuesday. Michigan’s second largest city remains under a state of emergency because of significant property damage to a number of buildings in the downtown area. It’s estimated that around a thousand residents in mid and west Michigan have been evacuated from their homes. Some have already been able to return. Sunday 11:10 a.m.

User: Brother O'Mara / Flickr

Snyder wants to lower auto insurance rates Governor Rick Snyder is asking lawmakers to make changes to Michigan's no-fault auto insurance system. The Governor says Michigan has the highest insurance rates in the Midwest and have the eighth highest rate in the county. "Right now, people critically injured in an auto accident can receive unlimited lifetime medical benefits. Under a plan announced yesterday, that amount would be capped at $1 million dollars," Jake Neher reports. Michigan House approves bill against indefinite detention "The Michigan House has approved legislation that would prohibit state and local law enforcement officials from helping the federal government indefinitely detain American citizens without charges," the Associated Press reports. Weather update More flooding and a return to wintry weather in places are being seen as spring storms prompt evacuations in parts of Michigan. More rain is expected today. We might even get some snow this afternoon in West, Mid Michigan and Flint. The Grand River in Grand Rapids is expected to crest on Sunday, just inches below the 100-year flood level.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Storms moved across Michigan this afternoon causing major flooding. Tornado watches are over. We updated this post today as we learned more. Scroll down and read up to see how the day unfolded. Update 4:30 p.m. We reported earlier in this post that the city of Chicago reversed the flow of the Chicago River to relieve flooding in upstream areas. Major flooding in the Chicago Metro region has been identified as a pathway for Asian carp to get into the Great Lakes. Adam Allington explained this concern in a series he did for the Environment Report last year. Michigan Radio's Rina Miller looked into that concern and reports: A spokeswoman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says crews are stationed along the 13-mile physical and electronic barrier along the Des Plaines River, which is experiencing record flooding. Felicia Kirksey no carp have been spotted so far, and that the Corps is confident electronic pulses will continue to deter the invasive fish. More rain is expected in that region tonight, but will taper off tomorrow. She'll have more for us in a separate post. 3:25 p.m. You can check the forecast for the river near you on the NWS Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service page. Click the dot nearest you and then click the "upstream gauge" or "downstream gauge" links to find the forecast nearest your area.

user thebridge / Michigan Radio

Why is it so cold this spring? Jeff Masters, PhD, Director of Meterology at Weather Underground, tried to shed some light on our slow seasons.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Michigan in for snow, sleet and rain today "Snow, sleet and freezing rain are expected across the region today as part of a strong winter storm bearing down on the nation's midsection. It's expected to fall this afternoon and evening, and into tomorrow. More than 6 inches could fall in some places, including southeast Michigan. West Michigan could get 2 to 6 inches," the Associated Press reports. Lawmakers talk roads funding "State business leaders say Michigan lawmakers need to boost funding for roads now. The group says the cost of fixing roads only gets higher as time passes and roads get worse. The group says lawmakers should raise the state’s gas tax and vehicle registration fees to boost road funding," Jake Neher reports. Mike Duggan to announce run for Detroit mayor The former Detroit Medical Center CEO, Mike Duggan is announcing his run for Detroit mayor today. As the Detroit News reports, "In an interview Monday, [Duggan] said his candidacy will be defined by the critical need for a strategy to fight violent crime and the case to limit (if not prevent) the tenure of an emergency manager in a long overdue turnaround of the city."

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Police say they're dealing with dozens of weather-related vehicle crashes around the state as a major storm hitting the Midwest brings snow to Michigan. In Lansing, police say Friday morning they've responded to 12 traffic accidents and eight requests for assistance from motorists. Police say all appear to be weather-related. In West Michigan, The Holland Sentinel reports a semi crashed in Holland and an ambulance en route to a call became briefly stuck in the snow in Allegan County. MLive.com reports about a dozen minor crashes in Saginaw County on Friday morning. Other crashes happened in Midland County. Fresh snow and icy roads made driving treacherous. Plows are on the road across the state. And some flights were delayed or canceled due to weather.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Snow blankets most of the state Most of the Lower Peninsula is blanketed in snow as an overnight storm brought up to 9 inches in some areas, creating a potentially treacherous morning commute and causing many school districts to cancel classes. Three to 7 inches of snow are expected in parts of mid and West Michigan, according to the Detroit Free Press . Areas of Southeast Michigan received up to 5 inches of snow. Parts of the northern Lower Peninsula could get up to 9 inches. Snow is expected to continue throughout the morning, and it should taper off by around noon, the paper reported. Gov. Snyder releases budget proposal Republican Gov. Rick Snyder released his annual budget proposal Thursday morning. "Sixty-one percent of the total investments we’re recommending are either for savings or education. This is a responsible budget. This is a budget to look to that long term, and learn from our past mistakes," Snyder said in his announcement. Among his priorities were increasing taxes to help pay for upkeep of the state's roads. Snyder proposed raising the gas tax to 33 cents a gallon for all types of fuel. He also wants to raise vehicle registration fees. Michigan Radio's Mark Brush has a run down of Snyder's other budget priorities, which include increasing funding for all levels of education and expanding medicaid as part of the Affordable Care Act. Detroit charter school teachers vote to unionize Teachers at Detroit's largest charter school voted overwhelmingly last night to be represented by a union. The teachers and staff at Cesar Chavez academy voted by a 2-1 margin to have the American Federation of Teachers represent them, Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody reports. Only a small number of Michigan’s charter schools have unionized employees. Nate Walker is with the AFT. He expects teachers in some other Michigan charter schools will also unionize this year. “I think in the future we can certainly expect more collective bargaining campaigns,” says Walker, “But we can also expect charter school teachers to engage in the policy discussions that impact them.” - Joseph Lichterman, Michigan Radio Newsroom

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Gov. Snyder releases his numbers today At 11 a.m., Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is expected to unveil his budget to the state Legislature. It'll then be up to those representatives to wrestle with the numbers and come up with a final budget for the state. Among the things he's expected to call for: After years of cuts, he'll call for a 2 percent increase in public education funding More funding for road construction And an expansion of Medicaid More details emerge on I-75 crash, trooper saves one girl More details came out yesterday on the deadly pileup on I-75 near Detroit the morning of Jan. 31. A whiteout caused 12 crashes involving 43 cars on the Interstate. There were 12 injuries and 3 fatalities. This morning, the Detroit News has more on Michigan State Trooper Seth Swanson's actions: After failing to find a pulse on the first two children, Swanson went to the other side of the car, broke out the rear window with a hammer and reached in to see if the third child, a 10-year-old girl, was still alive. She had a faint pulse. He cleared her airway and administered rescue breaths until she finally took a deep breath and regained consciousness. And more snow is on the way, so drive carefully Snow is expected for the entire state starting this evening. The middle of the state is expected to get the most snowfall. From the National Weather Service : This system has the potential to generate heavy snowfall. 7 to 11 inches is expected north of M 46 and near Lake Huron, while 3 to 8 inches is possible for areas across the rest of Southeast Lower Michigan. Mark Torregrossa from MLive says computer models for storms like this can predict higher snowfalls. His prediction is 4 to 9 inches for the middle of the state, and 1 to 4 inches for the rest of the state.

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.

Snow melt, rain could cause flooding this week

Jan 28, 2013
Tom Grundy / Flickr

Here’s the good news. The snow and ice that shut down many Michigan schools this morning are on their way out as temperatures are expected to rise to the mid-40s across much of the state. But the warming brings its own set of problems. Foremost among them is flooding. The National Weather Service explains it this way : A slow moving cold front and associated wave of low pressure is forecasted to cause heavy rain Tuesday night. A very moist airmass will be in place as the front pushes through....

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Governor Snyder addresses roads, schools and partisan divisions in State of the State "In his State of the State speech last night, Governor Rick Snyder asked lawmakers to fix roads, schools, and partisan divisions. Snyder wants them to find a way to increase spending on roads and transportation by more than a billion dollars a year. He says bad roads are a financial burden on drivers and the state alike," the Michigan Public Radio Network reports. Michigan foreclosure rate plummets "A new report suggests Michigan is becoming more of a home seller’s market. Home sale prices plunged in Michigan during the recession. But Realty Trac reports in 20-12 home sellers were getting about 94 percent of their initial home sale price listings," Steve Carmody reports. Michigan set 160 weather records in 2012 One hundred and sixty extreme weather records were set in Michigan in 2012. That's according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. As the Detroit News reports, "The Detroit News reports, "Last year's statewide weather broke records across the spectrum including, 139 heat records in 44 counties, 18 rainfall records in 14 counties and three snow records in three counties. Michigan's weather seems to be paralleling the national trend of record-breaking heat, rain and snow."

screen shot / AccuWeather.com

If this snow sticks around, we will. Snow is falling around much of the state today, but the major snow fell on the norther lower and upper peninsulas yesterday and overnight. The Traverse City Record-Eagle reports ten inches fell around the northwest part of the state. The storm also brought high winds leading to power outages: Thousands of residents in Leelanau County and Benzie County are currently out of power. Consumer’s Energy reported 8,588 outages in Benzie County this morning because...

user ka_tate / Flickr

The snowstorm moving through the upper Midwest is affecting flights out of Detroit Metro. The Detroit Free Press reports that flights flying between Detroit Metro and several Iowa and Wisconsin destinations have been canceled. Flights to and from Chicago O'Hare airport were running an average of 1 hour 52 minutes late this morning, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Chicago Midway was also experiencing delays. Delays were caused by wind ahead of the storm. Delta Flight 1257 from O'Hare to Detroit was canceled, but other flights between Detroit and Chicago were still on the schedule.

NWS

Snow is likely to hit northern and possibly west Michigan starting tomorrow and through Friday morning. The National Weather Service says the first major winter storm of the season is over the middle of the country and is expected to track northeast. Shortwave energy triggering widespread showers across the four corner states at the start of the forecast period will swing out into the plains and help intensify a surface low in the lee of the Central Rockies by Wednesday afternoon. The strengthening cyclone will quickly track northeastward towards the middle Mississippi valley Wednesday night and is expected to reach southern Michigan by early Friday. Snow is expected to start in Kalkaska, for example, after 4 a.m. tomorrow. Accumulations are expected to be 6 to 12 inches. Check out the forecast for your area from the NWS .

Stateside: A morning jog in December, courtesy of global warming

Dec 4, 2012
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

It's December and joggers' shorts are still short. Atypical high temperatures continue throughout the state, something Dr. Jeff Masters says is in line with a warming climate. Masters, who co-founded the Weather Underground , is reasonably concerned. "It doesn't feel very right. We have seen a number of winter-time thunderstorms and it's definitely not right. The climate has shifted to a warmer state," said Masters.

Tracking Hurricane Sandy

Oct 28, 2012

Hurricane Sandy is bearing down on the east coast. You can track the storm with WNYC's map:

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Here's one of those headlines that'll probably confirm your hunch: Weather-wise, this January through September was the most extreme the country’s ever experienced, ever since we started keeping records. Let's just flip back through the 2012 calendar, shall we? First, there was the winter-that-wasn't. Meteorologist Jeff Masters is based in Ann Arbor and is a big name in the weather-blog world. "It started with the non-winter of 2012. It was one of the warmest Januarys and Februarys on record." He says that warm winter led into a stormy spring, with a big tornado in March. "Which ripped through Dexter, Michigan, causing a lot of damage there. And in addition, in March we had summer in March."

The redder the higher the difference from average temperature, June-August 2012
NOAA

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 's National Climatic Data Center reported today that the summer of 2012 "was the third hottest summer on record for the contiguous United States since recordkeeping began in 1895." They looked at records from June through August of 2012 (summer is technically over on the morning of September 22). ...the average temperature for the contiguous United States between June and August was over 74° Fahrenheit, which is more than 2° F above the twentieth-century average. Only the summers of 2011 and 1936 have had higher summer temperatures for the Lower 48. The online weather service, the Weather Underground, has compiled data that allows users to look at how their local climate has changed over the years. It also allows users to see how local the climate is expected to change in the coming years using two different IPCC greenhouse gas emissions models.

DTE Energy

Overnight storms have left about 37,000 Michigan utility customers without power.

DTE Energy spokesman Scott Simons says Thursday that 16,000 outages include 13,000 scattered customers and 3,000 in South Lyon and Lyon Township.

Consumers Energy spokeswoman Debra Dodd tells MLive.com that nearly 21,000 of the Jackson-based companys statewide customers are blacked out. County outages include 2,900 in Bay, 3,300 in Genesee, nearly 2,700 in Gladwin, and more than 1,200...

Michigan Corn Quality
USDA / USDA

Today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack declared four additional Michigan counties natural disaster areas due to continuing dry conditions. Branch, Cass, Hillsdale, and St. Joseph counties have all joined the list. This brings the number of counties experiencing drought up to 38 in Michigan, and 1,234 nationally, as counted during the 2012 crop year. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor , over 82 percent of Michigans land is abnormally to extremely dry. At this time last year, no portion of...

Air Conditioner
user davidwilkerson / MorgueFile.com

A day of triple-digit temperatures is forecast for much of southern Michigan, leading school officials in Detroit and Flint to cancel activities.

The National Weather Service says todays high should reach 101-105 degrees in Detroit and 100-104 in Ann Arbor and Midland. Heat advisories have been issued for Michigan 53 lowermost counties.

Its just the latest in a string of scorching summer days in the state.

Mike Kalembkiewicz, a meteorological technician...

Fan
user jdurham / MorgueFile.com

Update 3:27 p.m. The AP is now reporting that more Michigan homes and businesses --around 400,000-- lost power this week: DTE Energy Co. says about 210,000 of its customers were without power Thursday after a new round of damaging thunderstorms made its way across the state, knocking down trees and power lines. Since Tuesday, DTE says about 300,000 of its customers have been affected.

CMS Energy Corp. unit Consumers Energy says about 97,000 of its customers lost...

The Weather Underground is now a part of the Weather Channel. The Weather Underground began in 1995 as a tiny operation of four people from the University of Michigan. It has since grown to a staff of about 50. President Alan Steremberg says being part of the Weather Channel will give his company more resources to develop new products like apps and videos. He says both companies will benefit from pooling their scientific resources. So were hoping as we collaborate and all the scientists get...

Cherries
user maena / MorgueFile.com

The federal government has approved financial support for Michigan fruit growers whose crops suffered due to unusual temperature fluctuations. Almost all of Michigans counties--72 of 83-- are now considered natural disaster areas and eligible for help. Some growers say crop losses havent been this bad in three generations. My fathers 72 and its the worst year hes ever seen as far as fruit production, said Mike Wittenbach, who owns Wittenbach Orchards in Belding, northeast of Grand Rapids. My...

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