winter

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

Abby deRoo

Looking at the photos... they don't really look like snowmen - more like snowbots, but I guess that's the kind of quality you can expect when the goal is quantity.

The cities of Zeeland, St. Clair and Saline took part in a snowman building contest over the weekend.

As Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith reported, the goal of the contest was to see who could build the most snowmen (at least 4ft. tall) in a 2 hour period with 50 volunteers.

The volunteers employed garbage cans, pickle buckets, and Pam cooking spray to help them churn the snow creatures out.

The city of Saline came out on top winning the soon-to-be coveted, wood-carved trophy known as "Frosty."

Here are the final tallies:

1st Place - Saline with 483 snowmen like creatures

2nd place - Zeeland with 268

3rd place - St. Clair with 113

St. Clair Downtown Development Director Dan Lockwood blamed their poor showing on "terrible packing snow."

The Grand Rapids Press has several photos of the contest as it took place in Zeeland.

You be the judge, do they need to tighten up their definition of a snowman? Or should snowbots count?

Dan Lockwood / St. Clair DDA

Zeeland, St. Clair, and Saline are competing this weekend to take home the "Snowman Building Champion of the Free World" trophy.

Art Trapp is Saline’s Downtown Development Director.

“In our community we don’t see a lot of activity downtown during the winter and we thought this was one way to get people off their couch.”

The other point of the competition is to see which community can build the most 4-foot-tall snowmen with 50 volunteers in 2 hours.

LisaW123 / Flickr

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.

Jmenard48 / Flickr

Forecasters are predicting snow will continue to fall across the state today with West and Mid Michigan seeing the most accumulation.

A Lake Effect Snow Warning is in effect for West Michigan and a Lake Effect Snow Advisory is in effect for Mid Michigan.  Both the warning and advisory will remain until early tomorrow morning.

Today: West Michigan could see 2-4 inches; Mid Michigan 1-3 inches and just an inch or two is expected in the Southeast.  Temperatures will reach the low 20s today.

Tonight: West Michigan could see another 2-4 inches of snow; across the rest of the state an inch or less is expected.  Lows overnight will be in the low to mid teens.

Tomorrow: More snow for the Holland area with about 2-3 more inches expected. Otherwise, scattered snow showers with light accumulations possible.  Highs in the low to mid 20's.

Sami / Flickr

Weather forecasters 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.

Winter solstice 2005
Tom Goskar - Flickr

I was hoping to get to this post sooner, but the day just got away from me.

Today seemed unusually short. That's because it IS the shortest day of the year.

And soon, very soon, the days in the northern hemisphere will start to get longer.

The blast of artic air that has enveloped the Great Lakes is causing major problems for truck traffic between Michigan and Ontario. Canadian officials have been forced to close Highway 402 which connects with the Blue Water bridge. Here are two reports on the situation in Ontario and in Port Huron:

Digital Journal reports:

A "red alert" issued by Emergency Management Ontario for the stretch of Hwy. 402 between London and Sarnia has been canceled but a state of emergency remains in force.

 680 News is reporting that three Canadian Forces military helicopters are now taking part in the rescue effort as hundreds remain stranded between the two cities.

 The radio station quotes OPP Const. Chrystal Jones: 

"Some of our OPP four-wheel drive vehicles were experiencing difficulties in the snow because again, the plows have not been out. And of course, vehicles have been abandoned in the middle of roadways, so they've become impassable."

Snow in Michigan
Jmenard48/Flickr

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.

We're getting word of school closings across the state this morning.  They include Ann Arbor Public Schools, Jackson Public Schools, Kalamazoo Public Schools and Lansing Public Schools.

Be sure to check your child's school to see if it's closed due to winter weather.

The following websites have detailed school-closing information:

Salt trucks
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Counties all over Michigan are gearing up for another winter plowing season with higher costs and fewer resources.

Wayne County has outfitted about 20 trucks with new side plows that allow crews to make fewer passes to clear snow-covered roads.

Michael Rogers is the Roads Division director for Wayne County. During a demonstration of the equipment, he pointed out an innovation that will save on salt costs. The county has rigged up its trucks to wet the salt as it’s being spread on the roadway.  

You see the salt doesn’t necessarily make it all the way over here, to us. And that’s what you want. You want the salt to get on its intended target, and that’s what it’s doing. Because before the salt would’ve been ten feet back there, and that’s a waste of our resource.

Ten years ago, Wayne County had 726 people working for the Roads Division during the winter months. This year it has a little more than 330.

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