weather

Environment
1:42 pm
Fri April 6, 2012

Cold weather in northern Michigan threatens cherry crops

Blooms on a cherry tree.
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.

Dexter Tornado
4:34 pm
Tue March 20, 2012

Dexter Township spends $200K to aid cleanup efforts after tornado

Repairing homes damaged by an F3 tornado in Dexter, Michigan.
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.

Read more
Weather
3:22 pm
Tue March 20, 2012

Spring is here, feels like summer

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.

Dexter Tornado
1:13 pm
Tue March 20, 2012

Dept. of Corrections crews help in tornado cleanup

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.

Dexter Tornado
2:21 pm
Fri March 16, 2012

In Dexter, they're repairing the damage of Thursday's tornado (PHOTOS)

Repairing homes damaged by an F3 tornado in Dexter, Michigan.
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.

Dexter Tornado
10:42 am
Fri March 16, 2012

Hudson Mills Metropark golf course severely damaged in storm

An F3 tornado strikes Dexter. This is a screenshot from footage taken at Hudson Mills Metropark.
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.

Dexter tornado
9:30 am
Fri March 16, 2012

F-3 tornado destroys homes in Dexter (PHOTOS)

Tornado damage in Dexter, Michigan.
Zoe Clark Michigan Radio

Update 9:30 a.m.

The Associated Press reports more than 100 homes were severely damaged and 13 homes were destroyed in last night's F3 tornado in Dexter.

It appears people were warned in time.  Miraculously, there have been no reports of serious injuries or deaths.

From the Associated Press:

Initial estimates indicate the tornado that hit Dexter, northwest of Ann Arbor, Thursday evening was packing winds of around 135 mph, National Weather Service meteorologist Steven Freitag said Friday. He said it was on the ground for about a half hour and plowed a path about 10 miles long.

Dexter firefighter Dave Wisley told the Dexter Leader there are multiple gas leaks reported, but no fires have been reported.

The Red Cross reports officials are assessing affected neighborhoods this morning. 

Two shelters have been set up in the wake of last night's storms to provide health services, mental health services, food, water and basic needs.

  1. For those affected by the tornado in Dexter the shelter is at the Mill Creek Middle School in Dexter. The school is located at 7305 Dexter-Ann Arbor Rd.
  2. For those affected by flooding at the Park Place Apartments in Ann Arbor a second shelter in Ann Arbor has been set up. This shelter is at the Salvation Army at 100 Arbana Drive in Ann Arbor.

AnnArbor.com reports on power outages in Dexter:

An estimated 4,000 homes were without power this morning in Washtenaw County, most of them in the Dexter area.

Paul Ganz, regional manager for DTE Energy, said it was an "all-out call-out.''

"Dexter is a priority today,'' he said.

10:39 p.m.

Michigan Radio's Jennifer Guerra traveled to the Huron Farms neighborhood, where dozens of houses were damaged by the tornado: roofs torn off, siding blown into the street, whole walls missing.

Some houses were completely destroyed, reduced to nothing more than a heaping pile of wood.

Monica Waidley and her family were among the lucky ones. She says the tornado didn’t touch their house:

"We were in the basement watching things fly through the air out of our backdoor; peoples’ lives landing in our backyards, it was really scary."

The Waidleys were visiting their friend, Vicki Shieck, who also lives in the neighborhood. Shieck says she was "down in the basement, doing the tornado tuck" when the tornado hit. Her house was spared, with just a little bit of window and roof damage.

Shieck says the tornado "literally went kitty corner" between her and her neighbors' house, before it careened up the path and destroyed nearby houses.

Residents were seen leaving the neighborhood with suitcases, some carrying whatever valuables they could.

There have been no reports that anyone was injured or killed.

9:15 p.m.

A powerful tornado touched down in Dexter, Michigan at 5:33 p.m. Thursday evening.

The tornado demolished homes and damaged many others, uprooting trees and power lines.

It appears that no one was seriously injured or killed.

There were also reports of funnel clouds in Northfield Township and Saline, but trained spotters did not report any actual tornados.

Michigan Radio's Zoe Clark traveled to the scene and reported seeing homes with roofs and exterior walls stripped off. 

The Detroit Free Press reports that at least 50 homes are damaged:

...with roofs torn off, walls missing and interior rooms now exposed in Dexter. Debris litters the neighborhood. Insulation from houses float in large puddles in the streets and yard.

AnnArbor.com reports the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Department says so far, no deaths or serious injuries have been reported:

Police and rescuers are searching door to door to confirm that, spokesman Derrick Jackson said in an e-mailed message.

A shelter has been set up at Mill Creek School and people who need shelter can go there, he said. People who have power were advised to stay in their homes.

News Roundup
8:53 am
Fri March 16, 2012

In this morning's news headlines...

Storms spin off tornadoes in southeast Michigan

More than 100 homes were severely damaged and 13 homes were destroyed by an F3 tornado in Dexter; a tornado touched down for 3-5 minutes in Monroe County; and a possible third tornado ripped a home from its foundation in Lapeer County.

But amazingly, so far, there have been no reported deaths or serious injuries from these storms.

The Associated Press spoke with Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Deputy Ray Yee after he went door to door in Dexter:

Yee approached one destroyed home Thursday, and saw a hand sticking out of the rubble. He pulled out an elderly man, who was shaken but walked away.

“That’s the best part,” Yee said. “Every place I went to, I would have thought I would have found somebody laying there — deceased or whatever. But, knock on wood, everybody was OK.”

A shelter has been set up to help those affected by the storm in Dexter at the Mill Creek Middle School.

The Associated Press reports teams from the weather service will examine the damage today in Washtenaw, Monroe, and Lapeer counties.

Flint's emergency manager stripped of his power

Flint’s emergency manager, Michael Brown, will have to step down from his position after a judge prevented him from ‘taking any action’ on behalf of the city.

The judge's order was sought by Flint's unions. Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody spoke with a union representative about the order:

"Because these proceedings were conducted illegally, including the appointment of Michael Brown as Emergency Manager, the court has quite properly enjoined Mr. Brown from acting on behalf of the City of Flint," says Lawrence Roehrig, Secretary-Treasurer of Michigan Council 25 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

State officials say Brown will abide by the order. A court hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.

More power for Bing? Detroit leaders working on counterproposal 

The state's consent agreement plan unveiled to Detroit's city leaders on Tuesday was loudly rejected by Mayor Bing and several city council members. Bing and council members are working on a counterproposal to the state.

The Detroit Free Press reports that proposal would give Bing more power than he has now:

Under the 26-page draft, obtained Thursday by the Free Press and first reported on freep.com , Bing proposes taking over many of the responsibilities of the state's proposed financial advisory board. He would assume the powers of an emergency manager, except that of being able to terminate union contracts.

Their time to work up a proposal is limited. Gov. Snyder says his deadline is March 26, and as Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek reports "their position gets even weaker as their bank account approaches zero—a time bomb that could blow up before the end of April."

Dexter Tornado
7:29 pm
Thu March 15, 2012

VIDEO: Tornado touches down at Hudson Mills Metro Park

This video was taken by Matthew Altruda at 5:30pm on March 15.

Warning: this video contains graphic language

 

 

 

 

Weather
12:37 pm
Mon March 5, 2012

Parts of northern Michigan get 20 inches of snow, power still out for many

user ellenm1 Flickr

A winter storm passed over the northern part of the state starting last Friday night.

One meteorologist described it as a "cement-mixer" type of snow.

Interlochen Public Radio's Peter Payette reported "the heaviest snow came down on Leelanau County this weekend where 20 inches fell according to an estimate from the National Weather Service."

The snow was wet and clung to trees and utility lines around the region.

All phone service went down in Leelanau County, even cell phone coverage.

Much of that was restored by Saturday evening but many roads there and elsewhere remain impassable due to downed trees and snow.

On Saturday the American Red Cross scrambled to set up warming shelters from Baldwin to Cheboygan.

And many hotels in Traverse City filled up Sunday night.

And the Associated Press reports that many customers are still without power:

Consumers Energy says 35,000 customers still have no power in northern and northwestern Michigan due to storms that began Friday.

Nearly half the outages are in Leelanau, Benzie and Grand Traverse counties. The utility says the "destructive nature" of the storm has been a challenge to repair crews.

Most customers north of U.S. 10 should get their power back by midnight, but the wait in some of the hardest-hit counties could stretch to Tuesday.

Those counties include Benzie, Charlevoix, Crawford, Grand Traverse, Leelanau and Manistee.

Public schools in Traverse City are closed today, and people who see downed power lines should call (800) 477-5050 or local police.

Offbeat
9:55 am
Thu January 26, 2012

Revelers use dance moves and "Jazz Hands" to conjure up snow

It's been a mild winter, and, so far, a big disappointment for people who enjoy playing in the snow.

Some people are getting desperate.

Amy Biolchini reports for the Port Huron Times Herald that people in the small city of St. Clair held an informal dance ritual last night commanding "the power of the Finnish God of Snow" to bring down the white stuff.

The town needs snow for its annual "Winter White Out" festival which includes a snowman building contest, a snowball toss, and frozen chicken bowling.

The impromptu dancing seemed to pay off. From the Port Huron Times Herald:

Shimmying and shaking, hooting and hollering, the group of enthusiastic dancers called for "Snow! Snow! Snow!"

As they danced, the flakes actually did appear to increase in intensity -- coating the area in a glittering blanket.

"I can't believe it worked!" Skonieczny said, citing the 0% chance of precipitation in the forecast for the city.

As Biolchini reports, there are no official moves to the snow dance, so the ubiquitous "jazz hands" were employed.

The lack of snow has led to a tough winter season for some businesses in Michigan. Interlochen Public Radio's Peter Payette recently reported for the Environment Report that most ski resorts up north are doing o.k. because they've been able to make snow:

But for businesses that depend on snowmobile traffic this time of year, things couldn’t be much worse. They’ve had just one weekend of business all winter.

If there isn't enough snow for the Winter White Out festival, it sounds like they'll still have fun. There are less snow-dependant events like poetry contests, a "dunk tank," and a McDonald's "bun toss."

Environment
10:57 am
Tue January 17, 2012

Strange winter weather affects some parts of tourist economy

It's been wet enough, just not cold enough.
Patrick Feller Flickr

The arrival of winter in Michigan is not supposed to last long.

The cold snap earlier this week is expected to give way early next week to temperatures back in the forties.

The lack of snow is taking a toll on some parts of the state’s tourism economy.

Forecaster Mike Boguth says northern Michigan might set a record this year for the least amount of snowfall ever. Boguth works at the National Weather Service office in Gaylord.

He says what little snow there is now could melt next week when temperatures rise.

“We don’t see any signs of cold weather coming back after we get by this week.”

Most ski resorts up north opened in December. That’s because nighttime temperatures have been cold enough to make snow.

But for businesses that depend on snowmobile traffic this time of year, things couldn’t be much worse. They’ve had just one weekend of business all winter. That was this past weekend which included the Martin Luther King holiday.

Dave Ramsey owns Beaver Creek Resort near Gaylord. He says just enough snow fell late last week to open the trails.

Still, more than half his cabins were empty this weekend when he would usually have a waiting list.

“Every hotel in Gaylord every motel and little cabin cluster will just about fill to capacity on every major holiday if we have good snow.”

The weather could also create problems for the North America Vasa. The cross-country ski race near Traverse City could draw 1,000 racers the second weekend in February.

The VASA trail has three inches of base but no snow-making capacity.

-Peter Payette for The Environment Report

So what's up with this weather? Wunderground.com's Dr. Jeff Masters explains.

Winter Weather
6:26 am
Fri January 13, 2012

Storm warnings in effect in Mich. as snow falls

LisaW123 Flickr

A winter storm brought at least 7 inches of snow to parts of Michigan's northern Lower Peninsula and could bring more than a foot to parts of the Upper Peninsula.

The National Weather Service says winter storm warnings were in effect Friday for much of the western Lower Peninsula along Lake Michigan and the northwestern Upper Peninsula along Lake Superior.

The storm moved in Thursday. Forecasters say 1 to 3 inches could fall Friday in areas including Detroit.

The weather service says areas around Grayling and Houghton Lake reported 7 inches by Friday morning, while snow totals in other parts of the northern Lower Peninsula ranged from 3 to 6 inches.

In West Michigan, 2 to 6 inches fell. Ironwood in the northwestern Upper Peninsula got at least 8 inches.

Weather
1:11 pm
Sun January 1, 2012

Winter storm blowing into Michigan

(courtesy NOAA)

Northern and western Michigan are in the path of a winter storm that's expected to bring more than a foot of snow and winds gusts of up to 50 miles per hour.

The National Weather Service's office in Gaylord says the storm is hitting Sunday through Monday, with much of the northwestern Lower Peninsula and eastern Upper Peninsula getting at least a foot of snow.

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Weather
7:45 am
Wed November 30, 2011

Snow totals reach up to 9.5 inches around parts of Michigan

Much of Michigan was painted white overnight.

The National Weather Service was predicting totals of an inch yesterday afternoon, and up to six inches overnight in parts of southern Michigan. It appears a bit more snow fell than predicted.

From the Associated Press:

Storms brought heavy snow to parts of southern Michigan, with up to 9.5 inches reported in the Lansing area.

The National Weather Service says 7 to 9.5 inches of snow fell by Wednesday morning around Lansing. That came after heavy rains flooded some areas Tuesday.

Winter storm watches were issued. The storms left thousands without power.

The Saginaw area had reports of about 6 inches of snow. In southeast Michigan, the weather service says the Detroit area got anywhere from a dusting to about 3 inches.

The weather service says snow totals in the Jackson and Battle Creek areas were up to 5 inches, while Kalamazoo had 3 to 4 inches. Grand Rapids, however, avoided the snow.

Tuesday's rains closed several roadways, including part of the Southfield Freeway near Detroit.

News Roundup
9:07 am
Tue November 29, 2011

In this morning's news...

user brother o'mara Flickr

More for-profit schools coming to Michigan?

The Republican-led legislature is planning to resume its push to allow more charter schools in the state. The Associated Press reports the discussions will start in the House Education Committee this week:

The education committee has scheduled hearings for Tuesday and Wednesday on the legislation that would end some numerical and geographical limits on charter schools. It narrowly passed the Republican-led Senate in October.

The state has roughly 250 charter schools. Supporters say more should be allowed to boost educational options in public schools.

Democrats say it appears to be an effort to help charter schools that are sometimes run by for-profit companies at the expense of other schools.

Democratic Sen. Rebekah Warren of Ann Arbor on Tuesday plans to propose a constitutional amendment to ban for-profit schools. It's unlikely that proposal would advance in the Republican-led Legislature.

Remembering Frederik Meijer

The man who started "Meijer Thrifty Acres" with his father in 1962 died last Friday at the age of 91 after suffering a stroke. Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith reported on today's public visitation:

Meijer spokesman Frank Guglielmi says they’re expecting at least 10,000 people to travel to Grand Rapids Tuesday for the public visitation.

“The Meijer family wanted to give the community an opportunity to pay their respects to Fred because he meant so much to so many people, not just in Grand Rapids but really in the state of Michigan,” Guglielmi said.

The public visitation will take place at the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids from from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. There will be a private funeral tomorrow at a Grand Rapids church.

Wet weather, rain turning to snow

The rain is falling, and the National Weather Service says snow is on the way.

Counties in the south and southeast part of the state have a mix of winter storm watches, flood watches, and flood warnings.

Rain will fall until late afternoon. That could turn to snow later with accumulations of around an inch.  Later tonight the winds will pick up and snow accumulations could be around 2 to 6 inches for much of the south and southeast part of the state.

Environment
3:40 pm
Tue October 25, 2011

Northern Lights in Michigan... in case you missed the show last night

Last night's northern lights as seen in near Martin, Michigan.
user lakefxnet YouTube

Last night, some people in Michigan and in states as far south as Arkansas looked up and saw a spectacular aurora borealis display.

Here's a time lapse look at the lights that were visible last night near Martin, Michigan:

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Commentary
11:02 am
Thu October 6, 2011

Train from Detroit to Chicago, time out for good news

AccuWeather, the  respected private weather forecasting service based in Pennsylvania, is  predicting this will be a horrible winter, worse even than the last one. This  news came on the very day it became certain that it will
soon be faster to  escape to Chicago.

Read more
Environment
11:12 am
Fri September 30, 2011

Storms bring high waves, winds to western Michigan

Big waves on Lake Michigan in 2007.
screen grab from YouTube video

HOLLAND, Mich. (AP) - The National Weather Service says storms brought high waves and strong winds to Lake Michigan and along the western Lower Peninsula of Michigan.

The weather service says waves between 12 and 18 feet were expected Friday. A storm warning was in effect for part of the day.

The Grand Rapids Press reports a 21-foot wave was recorded by a buoy in the middle of Lake Michigan west of Holland.

Winds gusting up to 60 mph were reported. Strong winds were expected around Lake Michigan and Lake Superior.

High winds and waves moved in Thursday. The Muskegon Chronicle reports the S.S. Badger car ferry wasn't expected to be in service Friday between Ludington and Manitowoc, Wis., due to the weather. Ferry service was expected to resume Saturday.

Weather
6:49 am
Fri July 29, 2011

Storms bring threat of more flooding to Michigan

Another round of thunderstorms packing heavy rains has prompted flash flood warnings in Michigan's Lower
Peninsula.

The National Weather Service on Friday morning had flash flood warnings in effect in Barry, Eaton, Ingham and Allegan counties. Flood watches or advisories were in effect in other parts of southern Michigan.

The latest rains followed storms that moved through the state Thursday, bringing several inches of rain in places. Those storms left roadways under water and forced families from their homes.

The Lansing area was among those hard hit by Thursday's storms, with flooding prompting rescues and damaging homes.

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