weather

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:          

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:

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 company's 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 in Montcalm.

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.

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 today's 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.

It's just the latest in a string of scorching summer days in the state.

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.

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.

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 Michigan's counties--72 of 83-- are now considered natural disaster areas and eligible for help.

Some growers say crop losses haven't been this bad in three generations.

governor's office

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder has approved loans to Michigan fruit farmers who sustained an estimated $210 million in losses following rough spring weather. 

NWS Map
NWS

Warm weather, and high winds are stirring up the warnings around Michigan today.

We're expected to have unhealthy air, potential for wildfires, and roiling water in Lake Michigan.

Air pollution

Ground level ozone is expected to be higher in parts of southeast Michigan and western Michigan today. These areas are under an "Ozone Action Day" alert. Here are tips from SEMCOG on what to do on days like today.

WDIV Video / YouTube

More than five inches of rain fell in parts of Genesee County near Flint, Michigan on May 3 and 4, leading to major flooding and damage to homes and businesses in the area.

Last Friday, Gov. Snyder declared a "state of emergency" in Genesee County, which made state resources available. The next step is to see if federal emergency resources will be made available.

Roger Fonger of the Flint Journal reports:

Federal Emergency Management Agency officials are joining state and local officials this afternoon to assess damage to homes and businesses in the hardest-hit areas of the county.

"They will be out for the next few days -- until it's done," said Nicole Lisabeth, a spokeswoman for Michigan State Police's Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division.

"This is for officials to get a really good idea whether the damages might qualify for federal aid and whether we (will) proceed with asking for a presidential (disaster) declaration," Lisabeth said.

Lisabeth said homeowners and businesses that suffered damage might qualify for low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

screenshot from WDIV video

The National Weather Service said a minimum of 5.25 inches of rain fell in parts of Genesee County overnight. We're following how the floods are impacting the area.

Update 2:00 p.m.

Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody was in Flint today. He reports the overnight storms "also knocked out power to thousands of Flint residents... and most of the city’s downtown traffic signals."

The power outage led to the closure of Flint City Hall.

Consumers Energy says thousands are without power in the area. From the Flint Journal:

3,600 customers are without power in the county today -- more than 2,100 in Swartz Creek and more than 1,400 in Flint.

Consumers spokeswoman Debra Dodd said it could be as late as 10 p.m. before service is fully restored.

"We has really bad thunderstorms that did quite a bit of damage," Dodd said.

12:30 p.m.

We got ahold of Genessee County Drain Commissioner Jeff Wright.

"The Swartz Creek is well out of its banks, near record levels, and it itself is flooding I-75 and I-69. So there's no traffic on I-75 and I-69 near their junction. So as you can imagine that's created a very bad traffic jam on top of the flooding situation," said Wright.

Wright said the Thread Creek, another tributary in the Grand Blanc area, was hit just about as bad.

He says the Flint River will hit flood stage of 13.3 feet at about 1:30 p.m. and they don't expect much relief until that flood stage is reached and waters recede.

Wright said they have crews out looking to see where they can relieve any plugged drain openings.

In the Flint area, the rains exceeded the capacity of the drainage systems and the rivers themselves.

Here's the raw interview:

11:54 a.m.

WDIV interviewed this trucker by phone as a helicopter flew overhead filming him.

The trucker was moving a load of potatoes southbound on I-75 near Flint and was stopped by rising flood waters.

He said he was initially 300 to 400 feet away from the water as safety officials began moving traffic off the highway. As this trucker was backing up, his truck quit, and there he sat.

Here's a link to WDIV's raw interview.

11:44 a.m.

"100-year floods," as they're known, mark a water level that expected to be seen once, or less than once, every 100 years on average.

It's a level that Genesee County Drain Commissioner Jeff Wright said happened today.

Ron Fonger of the Flint Journal quoted Wright:

"When you get water rising over roads, you've exceeded a 100-year rain event," county Drain Commissioner Jeff Wright said this morning.

The National Weather Service said today that 5.4 inches of rain fell overnight, almost twice as much as the area usually gets in the entire month of May.

The Journal has photos of the flooding.

Fonger reports that "I-69 from Bristol Road to Hammerberg Road and I-75 from Bristol to M-21" are closed.

Fonger spoke with residents in Grand Blanc Township where floodwaters "were so high that boats were brought in to help evacuate people."

Sarah Kleparek, 31, came home from work around 2:30 a.m. and everything thing seemed OK. But an hour an half later she said she heard car alarms start going off and when she looked outside the water was already up to her windows on her car.

Around 7 a.m. this morning, she was able to quickly pull a bag together and evacuated her apartment after firefighters came with a boat.

"It was just so fast," Kleparek said.

We're working to reach Drain Commissioner Wright for comment. Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody will have more on this story later today.

Brother O'Mara / Flickr

National unemployment numbers released this morning

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released unemployment numbers this morning. The unemployment rate "was little changed at 8.1 percent."

Nonfarm payroll employment rose by 115,000 for the month of April.

As Mark Memmott at NPR's Two-Way blog points out, "the economy needs to add more than 115,000 jobs a month to bring down the unemployment rate." So why the decline?

Mostly because the size of the "civilian labor force" shrank by 342,000 people, to 154.4 million. And the labor force "participation rate" edged down to 63.6 percent from 63.8 percent.

Assesing Michigan's fruit crop, worst in history

The fruit crop in Michigan got bitten by the bizarre weather. High temperatures in March brought the blossoms out, and freezes and frosts in April killed emerging buds.

More from the AP:

Farmers and extension agents say the one-two punch has all but wiped out the tart cherry crop, while other orchard fruits such as sweet cherries, apples, pears and peaches have suffered extensive damage. Juice grapes are another casualty.

Fifty-four-year-old David Rabe of Oceana County says he's been farming nearly all his life and has never seen it this bad. Only his asparagus may survive.

Flooding after rains move through the state

The flooding has caused problems for drivers this morning. Some roads in the Detroit and Flint areas have been closed.

The AP reports that both directions of I-75 at I-696 in suburban Detroit were closed today as the morning rush hour period approached.

A flash flood warning was issued for the Flint area, including Genesee and Shiawassee, counties due to the storm.

The National Weather Service has issued flood advisories, watches and warnings for parts of Michigan's Lower Peninsula following the storms.

More from the Flint Journal:

Hit with more than 5 inches of rain overnight, the county's creeks, streams and drains are swelling as residents cope with their own localized flooding this morning.

The National Weather Service said today that 5.4 inches of rain fell overnight, almost twice as much as the area usually gets in the entire month of May.

"It's bad everywhere," said county Drain Commissioner Jeff Wright. "The whole county got hit pretty well."

The 5.4 inches of rain recorded at Bishop overnight surpassed the total, normal monthly rainfall total for a typical month of May -- 3 inches.

Photo courtesy of NOAA

You’ve probably noticed we’ve had a strange spring.

This March – the warm temperatures broke 15,292 weather records across the country.   And last year... there were 14 weather-related disasters that each caused $1 billion – or more – in damages.

A new study finds a large majority of Americans are now connecting specific extreme weather events to climate change.

The study is part of a long-term project called Climate Change in the American Mind.  It’s by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and George Mason University's Center for Climate Change Communication.

Here's an excerpt:

A majority of Americans say the weather in the United States is getting worse and many report that extreme weather in their own local area has become more frequent and damaging. Further, large majorities believe that global warming made a number of recent extreme weather events worse. Only about a third of Americans, however, have either a disaster emergency plan or an emergency supply kit in their homes.

Ed Maibach directs George Mason’s climate change center.  He and his colleagues found that 82 percent of Americans personally experienced one or more types of extreme weather or natural disaster in the past year.  I asked him how these experiences are affecting people’s understanding of climate change.

"We know that most Americans believe the climate is changing, and now, this latest survey shows us that a lot of people are connecting the experience of the extreme weather they’re experiencing to the fact that the climate is changing."

But he says not too many people understand the difference between weather and climate.

Wunderground.com

A popular Ann Arbor-based online weather service is offering a new feature on its website. At the Weather Underground’s “Climate Change Center,” you can see how your local climate has changed over the years.

Detailed graphs display historical information for temperature, precipitation, and snowfall. The data goes back to the 1700s in some cases.

It also shows how your local climate is expected to change in the future based on current climate models.

Co-founder of the Weather Underground Jeff Masters said they launched the new tool in honor of Earth Day. One of the goals of the site, he said, is to help people understand the differences between climate and weather.

“Climate is what you expect based on past history of weather,” Masters says, “but weather is what you get. It’s got lots of random variations. You see a lot of extremes both on cold and hot sides, but they average out over a period of time. And to really understand where the weather of the future might fall, you have to look at how the climate, the long-term statistics over a period of 30 years or more, might be changing.”

Mike Perini / Michigan Radio

Winds whipping across the state yesterday with gusts of up to 55 mph brought down big trees and downed power lines.

The Associated Press reports the winds caused the death of a women in Van Buren County when a tree hit her van.

And the Lansing State Journal reports on an injury to a second grader:

Strong winds knocked a tree down onto a second-grader during recess at DeWitt’s Schavey Road Elementary Monday, school officials confirmed today.The student was taken to the hospital and is recovering, said Superintendent John Deiter.

Today, crews are working to bring power back to homes and businesses. An estimated 38,000 customers are without power.

More from the Associated Press:

DTE Energy Co. says that about 31,000 of its 106,000 electrical customers that lost power due to Monday's winds are without service early Tuesday. And CMS Energy Corp. says that about 7,000 of its
96,000 affected Consumers Energy customers are powerless as of Tuesday morning.

The winds caused the death of a woman when a tree hit her van in Van Buren County's Bloomingdale Township.

NOAA

Today's real-time Wind Map is showing some strong northeasterly winds flowing across Michigan's Lower Peninsula, and southeasterly winds across the U.P.

There's a gale warning in effect until midnight in the open water forecast for Lake Michigan where waves of 8 to 12 feet are a possible. The map above is showing waves of around 9 to 10 feet.

The Associated Press reports on winds gusts topping 50 mph in parts of the state "knocking down some trees and threatening the possibility of other damage."

The National Weather Service issued wind advisories for the Lower Peninsula and parts of the Upper Peninsula. Temperatures were expected to drop in northern Michigan, bringing with it the possibility of snow and ice. Snow accumulations of a few inches are possible in the western Upper Peninsula.

The Grand Rapids Press reports on power outages in West Michigan:

More than 10,300 Consumers Energy customers in West Michigan are without power this afternoon because of strong winds, according to a spokesman for the utility.

And the winds coming off of Lake Michigan near Ludington caused damage. The Ludington Daily News reported on power outages with winds that gusted to 49 mph.

Consumers Energy reported 116 customers without power in Mason County and 236 customers without power in Oceana County. Consumers Energy spokesman Tim Pietryga said there were about 5,600 customers without power at 9 a.m. today, most of them along Lake Michigan.

William Schmitt / Flickr

After a highly unusual prolonged warm spell in the state, cold weather returned to northern Michigan putting Michigan's cherry crop at risk.

More from the Associated Press:

Phil Korson of the Cherry Marketing Institute says it probably will take another few weeks to determine the extent of the damage. But he says every time temperatures drop into the 20s, there will be crop damage.

Temperatures shot into the 80s for five consecutive March days in the northwestern Lower Peninsula. That caused trees to bloom early. But things quickly returned to normal. The National Weather Service says Leelanau County has had six nights below freezing and three nights in the 20s since the warmup.

The Michigan Farm Bureau says millions of buds froze at their most vulnerable development stage.

Growers say they hope to salvage a decent crop.

This past February, Interlochen Public Radio's Bob Allen reported on concerns about the changing climate and its effect on fruit trees in northern Michigan.

In his report, Northern Michigan fruit growers brace for a changing climate, Allen spoke with Duke Elsner. As an agricultural extension agent for more than 20 years in the Traverse City area, Elsner told Allen this past winter has been the "most bizarre winter weather he’s ever seen."

Growers were worried back in February about what happened this week, a frost after cherry trees blossomed.

Allen spoke with Jeff Andresen, the state’s climatologist and a professor of geology at Michigan State:

Andresen’s research shows an overall increase in temperatures of two degrees statewide in the last thirty years.

That’s pushing fruit trees to blossom earlier by as much as a week to ten days.

It wouldn’t be so bad if the last date of spring frost also was shifting earlier to keep pace. But it’s not.

That means the buds that produce the fruit are more exposed to the kind of freeze that wiped out the cherry crop in 2002.

Growers are tallying up the damage after the recent hard freeze.

We'll have more on how the cherry crop is doing in a story from Bob Allen on next week's Environment Report.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The cleanup effort is well underway after last week’s tornado in Dexter.

Steve Feinman, a trustee for Dexter Township, says volunteers have been incredibly helpful, and the township has hired a contractor to help with the cleanup.

Rather than wait to see if the state will send disaster relief funds, the township has gone ahead and allocated $200,000 from its own budget to help residents "remove trees and branches and shrub material that was damaged." Fineman says residents can bring those materials to the edge of the roadside for pickup. 

"You can’t wait for a state declaration to make sure your main thoroughfares are open, or people can get out of their houses and have their utilities back, so it’s a necessary thing," explains Fineman.

user: q8 /flickr

The vernal equinox, or spring equinox marks the end of winter today, and the beginning of spring.  But don't rule out the possibility of another snow fall - after all this is Michigan.

Record highs across the state are expected to continue through the rest of the week in Michigan.

The Associated Press reports:

The weather service office in suburban Detroit says there's been six consecutive days of 70 degree temperatures that started March 14 and continued through Monday. It says the last time there was such a stretch of warm weather in the area around this time of year it was April 16-24, 1886.

The weather service forecasts several more days of 70 degree temperatures. In southeast and mid-Michigan temperatures are expected to reach 85 tomorrow.

According to the Associated Press, the weather service in Grand Rapids says record high temperatures in West Michigan were broken on five consecutive days from March 14 through Sunday. In the northern Lower Peninsula, forecasters say high temperatures are coming in about 25 to as much as 40 degrees above average.

Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

DEXTER, Mich. (AP) - Michigan Department of Corrections work crews are helping cleanup efforts following last week's tornado that hit Washtenaw County.

The department says crews from its Special Alternative Incarceration Program in Chelsea, a prison boot camp, will be in the Dexter area at least through Wednesday.

The department says the crews will work longer if requested.

Also Tuesday, the Washtenaw County Building Inspection Division announced that it will give priority to permit applications that are submitted as a result of Thursday's tornado damage.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Update 2:21 p.m.

Cleanup work is underway in Dexter after Thursday’s tornado. Much of the repair work is being done by Southfield-based Statewide Disaster Restoration

Raymond Eddy, the company’s executive director, said his crews started arriving last night, and they’re been busy securing homes pummeled by the tornado.

“In the case of the home were working on right here, the side wall is blown out. We’re putting a temporary wall in,” said Eddy. “We’re basically in March.  It could snow tomorrow. You never know in the state of Michigan.”

There’s no snow, but rain is in the forecast this weekend. 

Eddy said they’re focusing on securing homes missing walls and roofs.

“These homes are these people’s castles,” said Eddy. “So without some of the disaster restoration contractors here to help them out, these people don’t have a beginning …you know…see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

More than a dozen homes in Dexter were destroyed in Thursday’s tornado. Repair work to more than a hundred others may take weeks or months to complete.

10:18 a.m.

Repair work is getting under way a day after a tornado damaged and demolished homes in Dexter.

The sound of power saws cutting through wood that just yesterday had been the walls of homes fills the air today in this Dexter subdivision.

Thursday’s tornado destroyed more than a dozen homes.   More than a hundred others suffered damage.

No death or serious injuries have been linked to the strong that ripped through Washtenaw County late in the afternoon.

There’s no estimated cost so far of the damaged caused by the unusual March twister.

Matthew Altruda / YouTube

Staff at the Hudson Mills Metropark say their golf course near Dexter suffered significant damage from last night's F3 tornado that touched down around 5:30 p.m. From a Huron-Clinton Metroparks press release:

“According to neighbors, the funnel touched down on hole nine and stayed a while,” said Jerry Cyr, park operations manager for Hudson Mills Metropark. “We are grateful that no one was injured.”

The course is closed until further notice.

The main park is open, but without electricity or running water.

Although park personnel have not been able to completely assess the destruction, preliminary reports are that several areas of the course have suffered substantial damage.  Trees and household debris are scattered throughout the course. 

The park is the site where dramatic video footage of the tornado was captured by visitors.

Park staff say maple sugar programs scheduled for Saturday, and Sunday will be held if the power to the park is restored.

Pages