Saturday, February 11, 2012

Halfway though winter, it finally looks like it

It snowed last night. By my count, it's only the third snowfall totalling more than one inch so far this season. This is both good and bad news, but first I'll let WXYZ-TV report.

Snow Finally Hits In Michigan

The Detroit Free Press has more on the weather and its aftermath.

Michigan police urge drivers to slow down on slick roads as accidents pile up
National Weather Service forecaster Matt Mosteiko said between two and five inches of snow fell around metro Detroit during the night, with much of it falling after midnight Saturday.

Metro airport saw 4.8 inches, while Warren saw 2.5 inches. The snowfall is helping the area catch up to normal levels, he said, as we were about a foot of snow off the mark as of Friday. But for February itself, we're right on track, he said.
I'm due west of Warren, so the 2.5 inch figures looks about right for here. It's probably the heaviest snow we've had so far this winter.
Of course, since this is the first really heavy snowfall of the winter, drivers are having issues.

Michigan State Police are reporting accidents all over metro Detroit's freeways after the overnight snowfall, and are urging drivers to slow down.

"There are too many to name," said an officer in the MSP Detroit dispatch center, who said she was also fielding numerous 911 calls. "People need to reduce speed, especially over bridges."
WXYZ has another report just about driving conditions today.

Drivers Deal With Snowy Roads

I'm glad I'm not driving today.

There will be more snow later this week, as the Free Press article concludes.
The forecast calls for cold temperatures through Monday, said Mosteiko, with two chances for snow as far out as they can measure.

Snowfall is expected overnight between Monday and Tuesday. Overnight Wednesday into Thursday could see levels much like what happened last night. But during the days, said Mosteiko, "it warms back up to above normal." By Wednesday, the high will be 38 degrees.
In other words, it's continuing to be a mild winter, as Staten Island Chuck predicted at the same time that Punxsatawney Phil predicted six more weeks of winter. I'm not surprised that both predictions are playing out.
Of course, Detroit just finished a wild year in weather as did the country as a whole, so I wouldn't be surprised by anything that came along.
Speaking of which, just because it snowed last night doesn't mean that Metro Detroiters aren't bemoaning the lack of winter.
Where's the love, Mother Nature?

That's the question from metro Detroit's festival planners as winter events have withered because of the lack of snow.

Communities such as Beverly Hills and West Bloomfield canceled their snow festivals, while Rochester's Fire and Ice event was put off until late February. St. Clair Shores canceled its pond hockey festival because Lake St. Clair isn't frozen.
More than just the pond hockey festival is suffering on and around Lake St. Clair, the Free Press reports that Winter fun on Lake St. Clair fizzles without ice and snow
The normally rocking winter life on the north end of Lake St. Clair has come to a screeching halt this year without any ice to play on.

And so have the profits of businesses that are usually part of that winter playground -- all thanks to this winter's lack of ice-freezing temperatures.
Blue Water Bait and Tackle has a choice location, next to the Department of Natural Resources boat ramp in Fair Haven. The ramp usually is ground zero for winter fun and games, with at least 100 or so ice-fishing shanties just outside Blue Water's door.
This year there's nothing but open water where those ice shanties usually are. The bottom line: Business is off about 80% this year...
That's the bad news, along with this winter possibly being a sign of climate change (Yeah, I know, weather isn't climate, but I doubt this mild winter is a complete coincidence). What's the good news?
But on the flip side, taxpayers are saving money on road salt and overtime, area road commissions said. And Denise Semion of the Huron-Clinton Metroparks said a weak winter means golf courses might open early, bird watching is better and folks can hike without specialized equipment.
"I can tell you, to date, we've only used 7,067 tons of road salt," said Bob Hoepfner, Macomb County Road Commission director. "I would estimate in a normal winter, by this time of the season, we would have used 25,000 tons."

Hoepfner said he hasn't yet tallied the savings from not spending on overtime for plow drivers, fuel and salt. What the commission saves, he'll spend on road improvements and equipment upgrades.

Oakland County road crews have used 27,800 tons of salt so far this year, about half what they use in a normal year, said Road Commission spokesman Craig Bryson. He envisions the savings going to road improvements and equipment upgrades, too.
The cost savings also applies to heating bills. My wife and I have saved hundreds of dollars on our gas bills so far. Also, I've so far been spared winter events such as I've blogged about on my LiveJournal during previous winters.

From 2011:

Snow Day!
Snow day, Groundhog Day, and a gift idea
Big storm coming

From 2010:

Facebook status about the weather
Metrodome goes boom! Ford Field hosts first Monday night game
Winter storm coming this way

All the above were from last winter. The winter before that was even worse.

Here we go again.
Crap, gotta go to work in this.
I was right to dread driving to work that day. On the way home, I ran off the road and punctured my gas tank. At least the next day was another snow day.

From 2009:

Today's weather follies
It's winter and I'm lucky to make this post

I think you get the idea. This winter most likely is a bad sign regarding climate change, but on a personal level, I'd rather not have such bad weather. Just from my blogging alone, I stayed home from work four days the past two winters, got into two weather-related accidents, and had one other incident of weather-related property damage during the past two winters alone. So far, I'm glad that hasn't happened this winter.

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