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winter weather

truck loading salt into snow plow
Ken Harris / Washtenaw County Road Commission

This story is a part of Mornings In Michigan, our series about the sounds of morning rituals and routines in our state.

The rumbles and scrapes of passing snowplows are familiar winter sounds for Michiganders, but what's it like to be inside one?  To find out, Michigan Radio’s Lauren Talley tagged along with the Washtenaw County Road Commission during one of this season’s biggest snowstorms.


Mariam Elamine / Southwest Solutions

When the weather gets as bitterly cold as it is right now, an already-dangerous life becomes downright lethal for people living on the streets.

There are teams who try to bring in them in from the cold, if only for a couple days. But first, they have to find them.

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

My Dad let me use a car for the winter term of my senior year at Michigan Tech. It not only was a generous thing to do, it was also very smart, saving him from making multiple trips between Flint and the hinterlands of the Upper Peninsula to drop me off and pick me up.

It did, however, come at a cost.

Snowshoeing in northern Michigan
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

In case you hadn't noticed, it is very, very cold outside. In fact, the past two weeks in Michigan have seen temperatures lower than in Iceland, most of Alaska, and even some parts of Antarctica.

Cold weather isn’t exactly unusual in Michigan, but with low temperatures once again hitting the single (and negative) digits, I wanted to know: are these frigid winters the new normal?

Water faucet
user william_warby / Flickr http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

Some West Michigan residents are being advised to keep their water running this winter.

Kalamazoo and Muskegon Heights issued frozen water advisories this week.

Christian Collins / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says colder-than-normal temperatures will continue in Michigan through mid-January, at least. That's as far as their models can reliably predict. Long-range models suggest temperatures might return to normal toward the end of the month, but those predictions are not very accurate. That's according to Richard Otto, a meteorologist with NOAA's weather prediction center in College Park, Maryland.

Vince Pahkala / Wikimedia Commons

Planning your next winter excursion in Michigan could get harder this year. 

Unusually warm temperatures throughout the state, including record highs in certain areas over the weekend, have led tourism experts and representatives to question whether enough snow will stay on the ground to support outdoor activities. 

jim harbaugh at podium
Courtesy MGoBlog / Creative Commons -- http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Michigan has seen particularly warm weather the past few days, and one person taking notice is the University of Michigan's head football coach Jim Harbaugh. 

On his weekly radio show, Harbaugh talked about recruiting prospective candidates and why he loves living in Michigan. He also joked that global warming could help the football team's recruitment efforts, according to MLive's Nick Baumgardner:

Thanks to continuing cold temperatures and snowfall, Michigan is not yet done with skiing for the season.

Three mountains will be open this weekend: Mount Bohemia, Boyne Mountain, and Ski Brule. Bohemia is reopening after closing this past week, while Boyne and Brule have yet to close.

Parts of the Upper Peninsula have seen unusually high snowfall this month. Marquette, MI is already having the fifth-snowiest April on record, with over 32 inches of snow already, according to the local division of the National Weather Service. 

screen grab from YouTube video

Lake Michigan may have waves measuring up to 25 feet tall today and tonight due to the winter storm that’s currently hitting the state.

On Wednesday, the National Weather Service for Lake Michigan issued a marine storm warning, which warns of winds of 48 to 53 knots. The service has also issued storm warnings across the state, cautioning difficulties with traveling, potential power outages, and potential school or event closures spanning from Wednesday to Thursday.

Taylor Ogilvie is the general manager at Mt. Brighton.
Rebecca Williams / Michigan Radio

Taylor Ogilvie would really like to make some more snow. He’s the general manager at the Mt. Brighton ski area. So far, conditions haven't been quite right very often.

Standing at the bottom of one of the hills, Ogilvie gestures to the mostly green slopes. "We’re looking at a bunch of water," he says. "Kind of icy, snowy stuff that we put out of our snow guns last night.”

He says they’ve had a few good days, but for the most part, it’s been too warm and too humid for snow-making to work well. So they’ve just been waiting.

Your photos of this weekend's record breaking snowfall

Nov 23, 2015
Our staff shared some snow photos too, including this beautiful shot of sunrise and snow.
Michigan Radio

Saturday's snowstorm broke records across Michigan.

Howell got the most snow with 16.8 inches, but most of us woke up to a snowy blanket. Chilly, yes, but drifting flakes on Saturday and a sunny Sunday made for a beautiful first snowfall. 

Here's what you shared with us on Instagram and Twitter

NOAA's Climate Prediction Center says a strong El Nino in the Pacific is increasing chances for warmer-than-average temperatures this December through February.
NOAA

Yes, we're expecting freezing temperatures in much of Michigan and even snow in the Upper Peninsula this weekend, but call your bookmaker (or, rather, your weather futures trader) and plop down your bet on what might happen this winter.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Everyone knows this has been a brutally cold winter in Michigan.

And not just for people.

Polar cold temps have resulted in Michigan lakes and rivers icing over to record degrees. That’s left little open water for ducks to feed.

Snowflake.
user RachelEllen / Flickr

DETROIT - Bitterly cold weather is expected to persist across Michigan into the weekend.

Temperatures moderated from Sunday and Monday's deep freeze, with readings Tuesday morning ranging from 8 below zero in Monroe to 18 above in Ludington. Highs were expected in the low 20s.

University of Michigan's Climate Center

Our climate is already changing in the Great Lakes region. And people who manage our cities are finding ways to adapt.

“We’re seeing changes in our precipitation patterns; we’re seeing more extreme precipitation events, " says Beth Gibbons, the director of the University of Michigan’s Climate Center. Her group has released a new online tool for cities in the region. 

youtube

The record-setting cold that gripped Michigan last winter continues to leave its mark. There are still ice floes showing up on the shore of Lake Superior.  

Maybe you’ve seen the pictures on social media and wondered if they were even real.

But it’s true.

Some of the warmest temperatures of the year are drawing people to the beach in the Upper Peninsula, where over the weekend they found abundant ice floating just offshore at Marquette.

imgr

Spring is here and warmer air has finally come to the region, but we're still surrounded by five refrigerators – the five Great Lakes.

Lake Michigan broke a record this past winter for total ice coverage, so you know there won't be many people swimming in the lake over Memorial Day weekend.

The lakes will, however, have plenty of fisherman on them. And with the cold water and warm air, they might experience fog.

But have you ever seen a fog bank like this?

user: Njaelkies Lea / Wikimedia Commons

If you've been wondering why your favorite pine tree has been turning brown as the weather warms up, you can stop wondering and start blaming winter.

Bert Cregg is an associate professor in the horticulture department at Michigan State University. He joined us to explain what the snow, cold and wind has done to our conifer trees. 

Listen to the full interview above. 

NOAA

 

The prolonged winter and the ice cover on the Great Lakes could lead to some lasting effects on wildlife.

For one thing, scientists expect that a lot of the fish that people like to catch will be showing up late to the places they usually spawn.

Solomon David is a research scientist at Shedd Aquarium in Chicago.

David basically chases fish around for a living.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Warmer temperatures may help break ice jams that have kept about a hundred homes and businesses in Jackson from having running water.

The deep freeze that gripped the state in January froze the pipes linking city water mains to more than 150 homes and businesses in Jackson. The problem is many of the lines were not buried below the frost line.   

Many of the pipes are buried about four feet down.   But this year, the record cold sent the frost line down five to seven feet. 

LisaW123 / Flickr

So here we are, a week in to spring.  And what did we get this week as a present from Mother Nature?

That's right: snow. And cold.

National Weather Service meteorologist Jim Maczko, who is based in Grand Rapids, joined us today to discuss when the weather will finally warm up.

Listen to the full interview above.

Wikipedia.org

If you grew up in Michigan, chances are when you thought of the very first signs of spring you thought of crocuses and robins. 

But have you noticed that in recent years, something has changed– that robins are pretty much with us all through the winter?

Why has this happened, and do we have any reason to worry about robins in this exceptionally harsh winter?

Julie Craves, director of the Rouge River Bird Observatory in Dearborn, joined us. 

Listen to the full interview above.

NOAA

My neighbors and I officially had our last "pond hockey" game over the weekend. We moved everything off the ice as things started to melt.

So the ice in the region has reached its peak, right? No one thinks we're going to be hit with another prolonged polar vortex, do they? 

Let's hope not.

With the most frigid part of this winter over, let's look at the record books for ice cover on the Great Lakes.

Here's what we know.

Researchers are going to find out how well rubberized asphalt will resist potholes.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

State lawmakers will roll out a deal this afternoon on a spending package to fix Michigan’s pothole-filled roads.

The supplement funding bill is expected to include $200 million for local road agencies. Brutal winter weather has drained county and city road budgets.

State House Speaker Jase Bolger declined to give specifics about the compromise road bill this morning, except to say it will address the state’s immediate road problems.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The city of Lansing is stepping up enforcement of its snow removal ordinance.

About 5% of Lansing sidewalks, roughly 22 miles, are still covered in snow in violation of city ordinance

Beginning today, Lansing police officers are ticketing homeowners and businesses that haven’t shoveled their sidewalks clean of snow.

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero says this is a safety issue for school children and the elderly.

“This winter….these difficult winter conditions are harder on nobody more than the walker,” says Bernero.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

As our long, cold, snowy winter has dragged on, one result can be seen with stunning clarity from outer space. Satellite photos prove that the Great Lakes are nearly totally covered with ice, and we're close to setting a record for the most ice cover in 34 years.

We wondered if we might break that record, and we wondered what this will mean for the Great Lakes once spring finally gets here and that ice melts.

Alan Steinman, director of the Annis Water Resources Institute at Grand Valley State University joined us today.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honey_bee

This winter has been especially tough for the already-fragile population of Michigan honeybees.

Beekeepers are coping with a nearly decade-long decline in commercial honeybees and their wild cousins. It's called "colony collapse disorder".

Now comes the unrelenting cold of this record-setting winter, and beekeepers in Michigan and other states are reporting staggering losses that could endanger crop production all over the nation.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced it's spending $3 million on a new program to help honeybees. 

Let's find out why this is so crucial and what it means for Michigan's farmers and beekeepers.

Mike Hansen is the State Apiarist with Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

JACKSON – A fresh wave of snow has fallen on much of Michigan over the weekend, but for once the worst of the weather is elsewhere in the region as CMS Energy Corp. dispatches dozens of its employees to help with a severe ice storm expected to hit Kentucky.

Slippery streets and highways have caused numerous accidents in Michigan, including one in which a car hit a state police patrol car handling an earlier accident on Interstate 696 in Southfield.

WWJ-AM says the trooper escaped injury in the crash. Traffic was halted on eastbound I-696.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The brutal winter weather is taking a toll on Michigan retailers.

A major ice storm just before Christmas resulted in poor overall holiday season sales for many Michigan stores.

The brutally cold January that followed was just as bad, according to a new report by the Michigan Retailers Association, which says 46% of retailers report their sales were down last month, compared to January 2013. Only 30% said their cash registers were busier.

The gloom created by slow sales may carry over into the rest of the year.

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