For the past decade, researchers have been studying what Americans believe about climate change.
For several years, more and more of the public has agreed that climate change is taking place. But recently, the number of people who believe climate change is happening is falling.
I talked with Barry Rabe, a professor in the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan.
He’s the author of a new report that draws on the latest public opinion surveys.
Here's what he had to say about the report, which found fewer people believe the Earth is warming:
"We found in the United States as well as in Michigan that there appears to be an upward trajectory of this in the past decade. Do you think global temperatures are warming, independent of the question of human causation, and other questions about perceptions of global warming consistently increasing, probably peaking in late 2008.
Since that time in the United States, we’ve seen a drop of about 18-20 percentage points on some of the very basic, standard survey questions that have been used for some time in the U.S. and really around the world.
In our latest survey which comes from November 2010, we actually see a little bit of bouncing back up again, not back to those November 2008 levels but for our purposes what this suggests is public understanding and perception of climate change is really a pretty volatile area of public opinion.
The numbers move around quite a bit from year to year, much more than we would have ever anticipated."
He thinks one main reason why belief in global warming has dropped over the past couple years is because a lot of people are affected by the weather in their own backyards.
Flint Mayor Dayne Walling spent much of last night address talking about what’s working in his city. But he also talked about what he thinks would help the city deal with a growing budget deficit, ‘shrinking the size of city hall.’ Walling wants to drop funding for some city commissions and eliminate some executive positions.
"My proposed changes would save the city of Flint $6 million over 4 years. Over $15 million dollars over 10 years. Its not the whole solution. But its an important part of it. Its an important part that makes a difference."
The city of Flint wants to cover its $17 million budget deficit by raising funds on the bond market.
It has to get permission from the State Administration Board to do that. So far, the Board has tabled its decision.
If the city can't raise bond money, it might be facing bankruptcy or a state takeover.
We haven’t been able to get much of a break from what’s shaping up to be a very tough January and February in Michigan, weatherwise.
"It has been a horrible winter -- lately," says George Wetzel of the National Weather Service in Grand Rapids. "I'll use Lansing as an example. The snowfall thus far this month has been 24.9 inches. That's only 18 inches less than the entire year."
And it’s not over. Wetzel says more snow is expected Thursday night– a wet, heavy snow that will be difficult to shovel.
The National Weather Service (NWS) says a "quick hitting" storm is on the way for southeast Michigan:
A quick hitting...rapidly deepening low pressure system will track Northeast through the Ohio valley tonight...towards Pittsburgh by Friday morning. This is historically a favorable track for heavy snow in Detroit. Snow is expected to overspread parts of southeast Michigan around midnight and become heavy at times south of the M-59 corridor by the Friday morning rush hour. Snow will taper off during the late morning hours and end around noon on Friday. Northerly winds will also increase late tonight into Friday morning with gusts to 30 mph.
The NWS says "the Interstate 94 corridor is forecasted to see the most snow from this system."
Here's the "hazardous weather outlook" for west Michigan around the Grand Rapids area:
Snow will return tonight especially for southern-lower Michigan. Some of the snow could be heavy with impacts to travel likely. Snow will end Friday morning. Roads could be snow covered and slick for the morning commute.
Snow is possible on Saturday...but accumulations are not expected to be heavy. Freezing rain will be possible Sunday night. A risk for accumulating snow exists on Monday.
For mariners...gales are possible on Monday on Lake Michigan.
Consumers Energy spokesman Tim Pietryga said in a statement Tuesday that most of the Jackson-based utility's customers without power are in Kalamazoo, Lenawee, Monroe, Hillsdale, Calhoun and Branch counties. More than 160,000 customers have been affected.
Pietryga said workers, including 100 utility crews from Indiana and Ohio, should return power to most blacked-out customers by late Thursday evening.
But power may not return to the hardest-hit counties until Friday. DTE Energy Co. reported no major outages.
Six to 10 inches of snow, along with sleet and ice, fell on Lower Michigan between Sunday and Monday.
A cold front passed through the state overnight. Most parts of Michigan has already recorded their high temperatures for the day. Temps are expected to fall through the day and into the evening, as Michigan's brief flirtation with Spring comes to an end.
There's snow in the forecast for Sunday when temperatures are expected to descend back into the teens.
Though the sun might come out for a bit today, it is going to be a cold one around the state. Temperatures will be in the teens. However, with the wind chill, it'll feel as cold as 11 below in some parts of the region. Meanwhile, a wind chill advisory is in effect for parts of Southeast Michigan until 11 a.m. this morning.
Tonight: Cloudy skies with a chance of flurries. Lows ranging from negative 3 degrees to 10 above... with wind chills down to 10 below.
Tomorrow: A mix of sun and clouds with a chance of snow. Highs in the low to mid 20's.
It's winter... It's cold... And it's getting colder.
The National Weather Service says cold air is sweeping down onto the lower 48:
A frigid arctic air mass will continue to surge southward east of the Rockies today and Wednesday as a strong frontal system pushes southward through Texas and northern Mexico. As a result, high temperatures across the southern plains will be almost 40 degrees below normal on Wednesday and up to 30 degrees below normal on Thursday.
It looks like the frigid temperatures will be here until Friday when we'll see temperatures in the 20s again.
Tonight: Scattered flurries before 7pm. Partly cloudy, with a low around 2. Wind chill values as low as -14. West wind between 13 and 15 mph, with gusts as high as 18 mph. Wednesday: A chance of flurries after 2pm. Mostly sunny, with a high near 14. Wind chill values as low as -15. West wind between 15 and 18 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph. Wednesday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 0. Wind chill values as low as -11. West wind between 8 and 13 mph, with gusts as high as 18 mph. Thursday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 14. Wind chill values as low as -13. West southwest wind between 9 and 14 mph, with gusts as high as 18 mph. Thursday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 2. West southwest wind between 9 and 15 mph.
Tonight: A 40 percent chance of snow showers. Partly cloudy, with a low around 7. Wind chill values as low as -8. West wind between 13 and 18 mph, with gusts as high as 26 mph. Wednesday: A 50 percent chance of snow showers. Partly sunny, with a high near 16. Wind chill values as low as -8. Breezy, with a west wind between 14 and 20 mph, with gusts as high as 29 mph. Wednesday Night: A 50 percent chance of snow showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 6. Wind chill values as low as -8. West northwest wind between 7 and 16 mph, with gusts as high as 24 mph. Thursday: A 40 percent chance of snow showers. Partly sunny, with a high near 16. Wind chill values as low as -9. West southwest wind between 10 and 16 mph, with gusts as high as 24 mph. Thursday Night: A 40 percent chance of snow showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 9. Southwest wind between 10 and 15 mph, with gusts as high as 23 mph.
The Michigan Department of Transportation spent $1,392 a ton to dump 170 tons of calcium magnesium acetate on the 8,000-foot-long bridge on Interstate 75 over the Saginaw River last winter.
Gregg Brunner, manager of the Bay City Transportation Service Center, told the News that MDOT "spends about $800,000 to $1 million a year to maintain the six-lane bridge year round with a four-member crew."
Around 31,000 cars and trucks pass over the bridge daily.
The mile-and-a-half Zilwaukee Bride had an infamous beginning. It was built so freighters could pass under it on the Saginaw River.
The project was plagued with accidents, "spalling", and the discovery of PCBs. It cost the state $117.5 million to build the bridge and it was opened back in 1988.
The National Weather Service is releasing data on just how much snow fell during the massive winter storm that sweep across the state this week. South Haven, on the coast of Lake Michigan, saw 20 inches of snow on the ground. That's the largest snowfall so far reported, according to the Associated Press. Muskegon got 19.7 inches. A foot of snow fell in the Lansing area. Flint got 10 inches, Detroit got 8.7 inches.
Thursday's cancellations include previously scheduled full sessions of the Senate and House, at least three Senate committee hearings and at least five House committee hearings. Lawmakers will resume their regularly scheduled sessions and committee hearings Tuesday.
Lawmakers usually don't hold session on Mondays and Fridays.
Most of Lower Michigan is digging out of last night’s winter storm, and it’s not over yet. A blizzard warning remains in effect until 7 P.M. for the western side of the state, as well as areas as far east as Lansing. In areas around Flint, a blizzard warning is scheduled to expire at noon. In the Detroit and Ann Arbor areas, a winter storm warning will last until noon. The counties along the state’s southern border are under a winter weather advisory until 1 P.M., with the exception of Berrien County, whose winter weather advisory is set to expire at 10 A.M. As for the Toledo area, a winter storm warning will remain in effect until 7 o’clock this evening.
Earlier this morning, the southwestern part of the state reported having 10 to 15 inches of snow already on the ground. Cities in the southeast, including Ann Arbor and Flint, received between four and six inches.
The storm has made roads hazardous, with snow drifts of up to five feet being reported. AAA Michigan reportedly helped more than 3,600 drivers stuck on the roads Tuesday night. Those who can avoid driving are urged to do so.
Today, numerous school districts, as well as many colleges and universities, are closed. School districts closed for Wednesday include Detroit, Kalamazoo, Ann Arbor, Lansing, Grand Rapids, Toledo, and Jackson. In addition, Michigan State University, Wayne State University, the University of Michigan-Dearborn, Western Michigan University, and Grand Valley State University have canceled classes for today.
Hundreds of flights in and out of Michigan airports have been canceled due to the winter weather, according to the Associated Press.
The AP reports:
Detroit Metropolitan Airport spokesman Mike Conway says... many cancelations were made by airlines in advance of the storm. Conway says runways at the airport in Romulus and nearby Willow Run Airport have been kept open despite the snow, thanks to constant work from plow crews.
The Grand Rapids Press reports most early Wednesday departures were canceled at Gerald R. Ford International Airport in southwestern Michigan. And The Flint Journal reports that some flights at Flint's Bishop International Airport had been canceled.
Out of 600 departures and 622 arrivals scheduled for today at Metro Airport, 254 departures and 263 arrivals have been canceled, airport spokesman Scott Wintner said.
As of 6:30 a.m., Southwest stopped all operations at the airport through noon and United has canceled all flights in and out of Detroit for today, not including United Express flights to Newark and Houston, he said.
Delta Air Lines canceled 800 flight systemwide today. Customers traveling through areas impacted by the storm can change flights without fees, Delta’s Web site says.
Very strong northeast winds will develop overnight and continue through Wednesday morning. Strong winds in excess of 35 mph will combine with the heavy snow to create blizzard conditions across all of southeastern Michigan. Significant blowing and drifting of snow will occur...helping to create whiteout conditions. Snowfall and wind gusts will decrease in intensity Wednesday afternoon...with snow diminishing by the early evening. Storm total snow accumulations of between 7 and 12 inches will be possible across much of southeastern Michigan...with 10 to 15 inches possible between the I 69 and m 46 corridors.
As of 400 pm heavy snow was crossing the Michigan and Indiana border. Steady snow will continue to develop across the warning area late this afternoon. The heaviest snow will fall between midnight and mid morning on Wednesday. One to two inch per hour snow rates can be expected during this time. Storm total accumulations of 10 to 16 inches can be expected by Wednesday evening. By around 8 pm north to northeast winds will increase to 15 to 30 mph with higher gusts to 40 mph. These winds will continue into Wednesday morning before gradually diminishing. Considerable blowing and drifting snow is expected... Producing blizzard conditions and visibilities down to near zero.
Update - 12:00 p.m.:
The latest from the National Weather Service. Much of southern Michigan is under a blizzard warning (red in the map above) and the middle and upper part of the lower peninsula are under a winter storm watch (pink).
Poor folks in the UP. They're going to miss all the fun.
The National Weather Service says the Blizzard Warning will be in effect from 7pm tonight until 7am tomorrow for southeastern Michigan, and for West Michigan the warning will start around 5 p.m.
From the NWS:
This is a dangerous storm. Travel and commerce across the warning area are expected to be severely impacted by heavy snow and significant blowing and drifting snow late this afternoon through Wednesday.
Heavy snow and blowing and drifting snow will make clearing of roads difficult tonight into Wednesday. Conditions will improve late Wednesday afternoon into Wednesday evening as the snow diminishes and winds die down.
Monday, January 31st - 1:02 p.m.:
The winter storm is approaching. Here are some weather links to keep you up to date:
A major winter storm is expected to impact the central United States over the next several days. Snow possible from the Northern and Central Plains into the Upper Midwest. Ice and snow possible across the Central and Southern Plains, central Mississippi Valley and Ohio Valley beginning early Tuesday. Blizzard Warnings are in effect over parts of Illinois and Indiana. Winter Storm Warnings, Winter Storm Watches, and Winter Weather Advisories are in effect from most of the central United States through the Midwest and into the Northeast.
Homeless shelters from Grand Rapids to Detroit are gearing up for a busy couple of days this week.
The major winter storm that's headed our way is expected to dump around a foot of snow across the state, and temperatures will be around 20 degrees for the next several days.
The city of Lansing is coordinating with its homeless shelters to make sure no one is turned away. Joan Jackson Johnson directs the city’s Community Services department:
"What we’re doing is providing any extra resources the shelters may need - from food to blankets. We’ve authorized one shelter to go out and purchase some emergency air mattresses for their shelter because this is their first time expanding for the overflow population."
Johnson says they’re prepared to house people in a hotel if they run out of room at the shelters.
The announced closings continue. Now state government is getting in on the action.
From the Associated Press:
The expectation of a winter storm will close down the Michigan Legislature. The state Senate and House have canceled sessions and committee meetings previously scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday because of a snowstorm that's expected to dump more than a foot of snow in some parts of Michigan. Wind gusts of 20 to 30 mph also are expected Wednesday in some areas with temperatures around 20 degrees. Both chambers were open for business Tuesday. Legislative offices will be closed Wednesday but might be open Thursday depending on the weather.
The University of Michigan-Flint campus will close today, Tuesday, February 1, 2011 at 4:00 PM in preparation for an approaching massive winter storm, and will remain closed for clean-up on Wednesday, February 2, 2011. All late afternoon and evening classes, activities, and events are canceled after 4pm today and through tomorrow. Critical personnel will report to work at their regularly scheduled shift time.
More than likely, there will be many more closings announced. WDIV's website has a pretty good roundup of announced closings. They say six closings have been announced so far.
Meteorologist Brian Meade with the National Weather Service's Grand Rapids office says the storm is expected to include "considerable blowing and drifting snow" in the southern and central parts of the state.
If you're commuting this morning, expect slick roads across the state. This morning we'll see a mix of rain, freezing rain and sleet. A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect until 11 a.m. today for much of west and mid-Michigan and until noon for parts of the southeast.
Today: Snow in west Michigan. Snow mixed with sleet and freezing rain in mid and southeast Michigan. Highs in the low to mid 30s.
Tonight: Cloudy, a slight chance of snow in Holland and southeast Michigan. Lows between zero and 10 degrees.
Tomorrow: Mostly cloudy with a bit of sun in southeast Michigan. Scattered light snow in west and mid-michigan. Highs around 20.
Weatherforecasters are predicting quite a bit of snow will fall throughout the state today, tonight and tomorrow.
Today: snow is likely across the state. West and Mid Michigan could see up to three inches of snow by the end of the day; the Southeast is likely to get around an inch.
Tonight: the snow continues. Parts of the state around Holland and Kalamazoo could see an addition 2 to 5 inches of snow. Mid Michigan could get another 1 to 3 inches and the Southeast will see occasional snow showers with additional accumulations of around an inch.
Tomorrow: more snow. West Michigan could see another 2-5 inches. Another 2-4 inches is expected in parts of Mid Michigan and the Southeast is predicted to get another 1-2 inches.
Meanwhile, a lake effect snow advisory will go into effect this afternoon through tomorrow for parts of West and Mid Michigan.
A big winter storm has hit parts of the upper Midwest, including Michigan. There are hundreds of school closings across the state as wind and cold temperatures make a hard commute this morning for motorists. As the Associated Press reports:
"...a punishing Midwest winter storm pushed through the state, leaving at least two people dead and blacking out 105,000 homes and businesses. National Weather Service officials say high temperatures in the teens and wind gusts approaching 40 mph were expected Monday in Lower Michigan, where residents along southern Lake Michigan got upward of 20 inches of snow. About 7 inches fell in suburban Detroit."
Ann Arbor Public Schools, Jackson Public Schools, Lansing Public Schools, and Kalamazoo Public Schools are just some of the closed school districts across the state.
The storm passing through the Midwest today has a similar look to the storm that sank the Edmund Fitzgerald on November 10th, 1975.
The 1975 storm had an extremely low pressure at its center, which generated winds similar to a category 2 hurricane. The storm in 1975 dropped to 978 millibars (mb) when it passed over James Bay in Ontario.
Fall officially began on the 22nd. So far we've been treated with the Harvest Moon and warm weather. My kids even broke out the inflatable pool on Wednesday. They splashed around for 5 minutes before they gave up and asked for towels.