winter storm

The snowstorm hitting the UP on radar.
NWS

Winter is upon us and we barely had time to dig our mittens out of that box in the basement.

Our compatriots in the Northwoods are being hammered by an early snowstorm.

Officials from the National Weather Service say at least a foot of snow has fallen on parts of the Upper Peninsula and another foot or two could accumulate in some areas before the front passes through the region tomorrow.

Northern Michigan University in Marquette has closed.

More from the Associated Press:

LisaW123 / Flickr

 Lots of us have made the rueful observation that it's pretty sad when we think of 28 degrees as warm weather.But that's what we've come to in this cold winter.

What caused this relative warm-up? And will the deep freeze come back?

Here to tell us more is MLive and farmerweather.com meteorologist Mark Torregrossa.

Listen to the full interview above.

screenshot from weather.gov

The most recent winter storm on the National Weather Service's radar is on her way. The Weather Channel named her Electra. 

This is what she looks like:

According to the NWS, there's a prediction of "a complex storm system impacting much of the Central and Eastern U.S. this weekend."

Here are the states that have a winter storm warning. The blue and purple are areas under warnings and advisories.

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 / Michigan Radio

Santorum makes stops in West Michigan

Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith reports Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum made stops in Muskegon, Holland, and Grand Rapids yesterday. While in Muskegon, Santorum talked about producing more oil and natural gas in the U.S.

Smith reports he criticized President Obama for voting against the Keystone XL pipeline:

“(Obama and environmentalists) see an opportunity to go out and scare people. ‘Oh look at what’s going on - they’re producing all this dangerous stuff near you and they’re drilling wells. Oh and they’re going to pollute this and pollute that,” Santorum said sarcastically. “It’s a bunch of garbage.”

Mitt Romney is expected to be in Macomb County later today, and Ron Paul will be in the state later this week. We'll bring you more coverage of both these candidates. Newt Gingrich's campaign has not made any announcements of Michigan appearances for the candidate.

UM Regents hold emergency vote on graduate student union hearings

The decades long effort to unionize University of Michigan graduate students has largely been a local one - debated between students, the administration, and UM Regents on the campus in Ann Arbor.

But in the last year, the fight has been reaching into state politics with Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette stepping into the fray and now Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville.

Richardville has introduced a bill that would ban graduate student unions. He's holding hearings on the bill today, and in a symbolic show of support of the organizing graduate students, the University of Michigan Regents held a vote this morning.

From the Detroit Free Press:

The University of Michigan Regents, in an emergency meeting this morning, opposed a bill up for debate later today in a state Senate committee that would ban graduate student research assistants from unionizing.

In doing so, the Regents, in a straight party line vote, passed the motion, recognizing the more than 2,000 GSRAs as employees... Today's vote reaffirmed a motion first passed in May.

Snow in February? What is this world coming to?

With this year's unusually mild winter, news of closed roads and heavy snowfall seems unique. This morning's snowfall has led to some road closings.

From the Detroit Free Press:

Snow began falling shortly after 9 a.m. around metro Detroit, including spots in Wayne County and downtown Detroit, presenting some problems for late-morning commuters.

Westbound I-94 at Scio Church Rd. in Washtenaw County was shutdown due to an accident involving a car and a semi-truck. Motorists were being diverted onto Ann-Arbor Saline Rd.

Earlier, police shut down M-14 in both directions to clear an accident. It has since been reopened, but Washtenaw County police dispatchers warn that the area is still icy and to use precaution.

(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.

National Weather Service

We got a taste of it, so no worries, spring will be here soon enough. Winter just isn't ready to say goodbye yet.

The region will see colder than normal temperatures for the next week, and rain, snow, ice - you name it - is coming with those cold temperatures.

Here are the forecasts from the National Weather Service:

Have you forgotten about the snow already?
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

It’s not just your imagination.

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. 

NOAA

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.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Holland and Grand Rapids’ Public Schools are both closed because the sidewalks aren’t shoveled enough yet to send kids to school safely.

user myself / wikimedia commons

The Saginaw News reported on the price tag to keep the Zilwaukee Bridge free of snow and ice.

The don't use cheap salt which would result in corrosion of the multi-million dollar bridge. They use a more expensive melting agent - calcium magnesium acetate.

The News reported that the Michigan Department of Transportation used $236,640 worth of the stuff to keep the bridge clear last year:

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.

Niala Boodhoo / Changing Gears

Parts of the Midwest are still shoveling out after one of the worst blizzards in recent memory.  For some people, they can't see the good in all that snowfall.

But at the Chicago Board of Trade, this blizzard may be a boon for business.

Investors are banking on a futures market based on snowfall that’s the first of its kind in the world.

Lindsay Smith / Michigan Radio News

Ok, so we all know that this week's winter storm caused copious amounts of snow and ice to blanket much of the state. And, of course, we couldn't forget the school closings and sore backs (hey, shoveling a foot of snow out of a driveway is strenuous!).

But, what about the actual financial impact of a huge winter storm? Just how much money did all that snow cost the state? Hard to quantify? It sure would seem like it. But, one firm, IHS Global Insight, has decided to go ahead and try to figure the economics out.

In a report released this week titled, The Economic Costs of Disruption from a Snowstorm, IHS said the storm had a $251 million a day economic impact in Michigan. The study took into account both direct (think loss of income because of a missed day of work) and indirect effects (such as lost sales in the local economy) of the storm into account when figuring out the numbers.

Aside from the actual economic data, IHS also reached three conclusions about the financial impact of winter storms, and I quote:

  1. Among all economic classes, snow-related shutdowns harm hourly workers the worst, accounting for almost two thirds of direct economic losses.
  2. The indirect economic impacts of snow-related shutdowns, including loss of retail sales and income and sales tax revenues, roughly double the initial economic impact.
  3. The economic impact of snow-related closures far-exceeds the cost of timely snow removal. Although states and localities may be hesitant to expand significant upfront resources in the short-term, the long-term payoff more than justifies the expense.
user Cseeman / Flickr

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.

Michigan Legislature
Matthileo / Flickr

The state Legislature is taking a second snow day. Sessions and committee meetings are canceled today because of this week's winter storm. The Associated Press reports:

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.

Winter Storm Pictures

Feb 2, 2011
Tamar Charney / Michigan Radio

The blizzard warnings are over and people in Michigan are spending the day digging out.

More than a foot of snow fell in many parts of the state.

The snow fall in Grand Rapids has almost eclipsed a record (16.1 inches in 24 hours). Reporter Lindsey Smith says the count stands at 15.9 inches as of this morning. There's still time to get .2 inches by 2pm, so the record may fall.

Click on the photos above to see a slideshow of the snow arriving around the state.

Sami / Flickr

Update 8:33 a.m.:

The National Weather Service has canceled blizzard warnings for much of the west and middle regions of the state. A Winter Weather Advisory remains in effect for West and Mid Michigan until 12p.m. Blizzard warnings remain in effect until 12 p.m. today for cities in the eastern part of the state including Midland, Bay City, Bad Axe, Saginaw, and Caro.

6:35 a.m.:

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.

LisaW123 / Flickr

While the snow has been heavy across the state over the past 12 hours, the freezing rain that was forecasted missed much of the state.

That’s good news for DTE Energy and Consumer’s Energy, who are reporting relatively few power outages, according to the Associated Press.

Consumer’s Energy reports roughly 3,700 customers without power, with most of the outages occurring in Gratiot County.

Meanwhile, DTE Energy is reporting only 1,000 residential outages, which the company says is in line with the average number of outages during a typical day.

Steve McFarland / Flickr

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.

The Detroit Free Press reports:

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.

(courtesy of the Michigan governor's office)

Governor Rick Snyder has ordered the State Emergency Operations Center to be activated to track events related to the coming winter storm.

The governor says he's also ordered the Michigan National Guard to be ready to help local governments deal with emergencies that may arise.

The governor says he's also instructed state agencies to make sure hospitals, prisons, and other essential facilities are adequately staffed.

NOAA

Update - 4:37 p.m.:

Tonight's chance of snow 100%.

Be careful and have fun if you venture outside.

From the NWS for southeast Michigan:

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.

And for West Michigan:

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:

An animated radar from NOAA.gov

Forecasts for your part of the state

Watches, Warnings or Advisories for Michigan

This from NOAA's website:

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.

USA Today reports more than 7 thousand flights have been canceled across the nation due to the massive winter storm streaming north from Texas.  

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

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 in Flint has announced it will close this evening and all day tomorrow. From their press release:

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.

Forecasters say the snow is coming.  It’s expected to make travel hazardous on Michigan roads.

It’s also expected to cause another financial headache to many cash strapped Michigan cities and towns.

Anthony Minghine is the Associate Executive Director of the Michigan Municipal League.

"Budgets have become so incredibly tight that these events become more and more difficult to absorb.  And again, depending on the magnitude of the storm, if it’s as big as it says, it could be a two to three day event, and you know, getting everything cleared and back up to speed it will become very costly for folks." 

Minghine says money spent now on snow removal is money that won’t be spent on road repair and other projects this Spring.

National Weather Service

Gearing up for snow

People in the state are gearing up for the coming storm that's expected to dump around a foot of snow in the region in less than 24 hours. Survival instincts are kicking in as people flock to grocery stores, gas stations, and hardware stores. The Kalamazoo Gazette reports some plow drivers are getting their sleep now in anticipation of staying up for the next couple of days. Andy Northey, the owner of R & A Lawn Maintenance and Landscaping in Plainwell, said:

"We're not going to be able to keep up with all the snow that’s expected," said Northey, whose company clears snow from residential and commercial properties from Allegan to Kalamazoo to Battle Creek. "Absolutely no way."

The Detroit News reports that Delta airlines is allowing people to change their flight plans without charging an extra fee:

Delta and other airlines encouraged passengers to change their travel dates. Anyone scheduled to fly this week can switch their flight to a time through Feb. 8 without incurring a fee, said Delta. The waiver involved Michigan and 19 other states expected to be hammered by the storm. The states range from Nebraska to Maine, and Wisconsin to Oklahoma.

The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard warning for the southern part of Michigan as the dense snow band travels across the state. The warning takes effect around 5 p.m. for the western part of the state and around 7 p.m. for the eastern half. The warning will last through much of the day tomorrow.

Snyder releases report on state's finances

Governor Rick Snyder released the "Citizen's Guide to Financial Health" yesterday around 3 p.m. The Governor said the report is "a plain-English, easy-to-understand look at Michigan's financial situation and the challenges ahead."

One of the more controversial parts of the report said that state employees are over-compensated compared to their private sector counterparts. Many state employees and union members are disputing the numbers in the report. The Detroit Free Press said that Snyder called the report a 'call to action':

"Here are the facts; let's solve the problem," he told 430 people who attended the Business Leaders for Michigan Summit in Lansing. "Now we can have an intelligent discussion about what we need to have to put the state on the road to success."

Snyder is expected to release his budget proposal for the state's next fiscal year on February 17th.

Red Cross looking for blood

Bad winter weather has hampered the Red Cross' blood supply. They've made pleas before, and now with a big storm bearing down on the Midwest, they're renewing those pleas. Monica Stoneking, communications manager for the American Red Cross, was quoted in today's Bay City Times:

"Those who live in the path of the storm are asked to schedule a donation time when it is safe to travel," Stoneking said. "All blood types are needed, but there is a special need for donors with O-Negative and B-Negative blood."

The Red Cross says 18,000 expected blood donations have gone uncollected over the last several weeks due to bad winter weather.

Sami / Flickr

Forecasters are predicting a big winter storm is on its way. It's forecasted that the storm could leave up to a foot of snow on the ground across much of the southern part of the state by Wednesday morning. As the Associated Press reports:

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.

Snow is expected to begin piling up Tuesday and continue overnight through Wednesday morning.

Blue Water Bridge
K.l.macke/Flickr

The Blue Water Bridge has been reopened. The bridge, which links Port Huron, Michigan and Sarnia, Ontario, was shut down Monday and Tuesday to commercial traffic as crews worked to clear snow from the week's severe winter storm.

As The Associated Press reports, the bridge's closing:

...forced several General Motors Co. plants in Michigan to interrupt production and caused long delays at the Ambassador Bridge crossing between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario.