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.

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