Dakotas blizzard adds to extreme spring flooding risk

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:13 AM GMT on February 21, 2011

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Heavy snows in excess of six inches have piled up over much of South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Wisconsin, and Minnesota today, with a storm maximum of 16 inches reported at Midland, South Dakota. This is bad news for residents in flood-prone areas of the Upper Midwest, as the new storm has added more than another half inch of melted rainfall equivalent to a snowpack that already had a record water content. When all that snow melts in late March, we can expect another spring of major and possibly record flooding for North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, or the Upper Mississippi River north of St. Louis, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). Their February Spring Flood Outlook released last week warned: "Heavy autumn rains and above average water content in the snow pack throughout the North Central U.S. have produced a high risk of moderate and major flooding for the Spring of 2011. Areas of greatest concern include the Red River of the North in North Dakota and Minnesota, Devils Lake in North Dakota, the James River and Big Sioux River in South Dakota, and areas along the Upper Mississippi River including Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois and Missouri.

Heavy late summer and autumn precipitation (twice the normal amount since October in parts of North Dakota and Minnesota) have soils saturated and streams running high before the winter freeze-up. Another winter of above average snowfall has added water to the snow pack on top of the frozen saturated soils in the North Central US. NWS models show this snowpack containing a water content ranked in the 90 to 100 percentile when compared to a 60 year average. These factors have combined to create some of the highest soil moisture contents of the last century. "



Figure 1. North Central U.S. flood risk. Image credit: NWS. The outlook will be updated on February 24, and a final outlook issued March 17.

There is a huge amount of snow on the ground in North Dakota along the tributaries of the Red River, thanks to fall precipitation that was 150% - 300% of normal, and winter snows that have dumped up to 400% more precipitation than usual. If one were to melt this snow, it would amount to 4 - 5 inches of rain. If heavy rains occur at the same time that the snow melts, there is the potential for the greatest flood in history to affect the cities of Fargo and Grand Forks, the largest and third largest cities in North Dakota. NWS is giving a 20% chance that Fargo will see its greatest flood in history, and a 10% chance for Grand Forks.

The situation is similar in Minnesota, which has received about double its normal precipitation over the past 3 to 4 months. Snow depths are generally around 18 inches in the Upper Mississippi watershed, with a high water content. If one were to melt this snow, it would amount to 3.5 - 5.5 inches of rain, which ranks among the wettest snow packs in the 60-year record. NWS is giving a 15% chance that St. Paul will see its highest flood in history this spring.

In South Dakota, heavy snows this winter have also left a snowpack with a high water content, and NWS is predicting a 30% chance that the the James River at Huron, SD and the Big Sioux River at Brookings, SD will reach their highest flood heights in history.


Figure 2. The snow water equivalent of the Upper Midwest's snowpack as of February 18, 2011. Large sections of Minnesota and North Dakota have the equivalent of 3.9 - 5.9 inches of rain (purple colors) stored in their snowpack. Image credit: NWS/NOHRSC.

When will all this flooding occur? Generally, late March through mid-April is the time when the big spring melt occurs. The record 2009 Red River flood peaked on March 28 in Fargo. The great 1997 Red River flood that devastated Grand Forks, causing $3.5 billion in damage, crested on April 18. St. Paul's greatest flood in history crested on April 19, 1965.

I'll have a new post Tuesday or Wednesday.

Jeff Masters

Blinding snowstorm hits Detroit area (MichiganSnowLvr)
The Detroit area was hit with a blinding snowstorm this afternoon and evening, with near zero visibility and thunder/lightning, as the snowfall piles up quickly and deeply.
Blinding snowstorm hits Detroit area

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Quoting cchsweatherman:
BREAKING NEWS: According to Frank Strait's fan page on Facebook, Joe Bastardi is now gone from Accuweather. Below is the post from Frank's page.

Let me go ahead and say now that I can't really answer any questions about the departure of Joe Bastardi from AccuWeather. Besides, I really don't know anything about it, anyway, except that it's happened.


Then let me explain a tad what was his downfall,

The World of Meteorology will be crushed as will a few blogger's here as well.

His mouth overrided common sense on a daily basis.

So his departure is welcome by many.

Maybe he can get a gig on FOX.

Ciao ,Joe


From 2 Months ago,

Long wrong Joe Bastardi cooks the books to smear NSIDC. Time for Accuweather to fire him.
National Snow & Ice Data Center explains Bastardi can't read graphs and "is unclear as to how standardized anomalies are derived"
December 5, 2010

UPDATE: Bastardi responded in the comments here. He couldnt bring himself to admit that his accusation of fraud against NSIDC was not merely completely unwarranted but totally inappropriate and in fact based in part on his simple misreading of a graph. Finally, though, on Sunday afternoon, Accuweather took the post down and Bastardi admits in his new Emily Litella post his charge was baseless.


Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127566
Quoting cchsweatherman:
BREAKING NEWS: According to Frank Strait's fan page on Facebook, Joe Bastardi is now gone from Accuweather. Below is the post from Frank's page.

Let me go ahead and say now that I can't really answer any questions about the departure of Joe Bastardi from AccuWeather. Besides, I really don't know anything about it, anyway, except that it's happened.

Perhaps he left to focus on his weightlifting career--that is, if Faux doesn't give him a show...
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13459
Quoting hcubed:


And, at the same time, there's this from NOAA:

Can Record Snowstorms And Global Warming Coexist?

"...Still, bitter cold temperatures and blizzards of historic proportions prompted the questions: Why were there so many historic snowstorms in the mid-Atlantic region this winter? Are they evidence that global warming isn’t happening?

No, the globe is warming. But the real story behind the mid-Atlantic’s winter isn’t about climate change, it’s about climate variability. Climate variability, the term scientists use, explains why record-breaking snowstorms and global warming can coexist. In fact, many of the weather events observed this winter help to confirm our understanding of the climate system, including links between weather and climate.

And the continuing story:

Forensic Meteorology Solves the Mystery of Record Snows

"...After a series of record-setting snowstorms hit the mid-Atlantic region this winter, some people asked NOAA if humans could somehow be to blame. Specifically, they wanted to know if human-induced global warming could have caused the snowstorms due to the fact that a warmer atmosphere holds more water vapor.

The CSI Team’s analysis indicates that’s not likely. They found no evidence — no human “fingerprints” — to implicate our involvement in the snowstorms. If global warming was the culprit, the team would have expected to find a gradual increase in heavy snowstorms in the mid-Atlantic region as temperatures rose during the past century. But historical analysis revealed no such increase in snowfall. Nor did the CSI team find any indication of an upward trend in winter precipitation along the eastern seaboard..."

Wow. And from NOAA, too. Gotta believe them, they ARE the experts, after all...

It would be interesting to read any new data; with back-to-back winters featuring record or near-record snowfall events, I wonder whether they'd find any evidence of such "fingerprints"...
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13459
Posted by: JeffMasters, 4:05 PM CDT on March 24, 2010

How sensitive is climate to a doubling of CO2?
The IPCC report talks extensively about computer climate models' calculations of "climate sensitivity"--how much Earth's climate would warm if CO2 doubled from pre-industrial levels of 280 ppm, to 560 ppm (we're currently at 390 ppm). A mid-range number from the 2007 IPCC report often used by climatologists is that the climate sensitivity is 3°C for a doubling of CO2. Dr. Alley takes a look at what paleoclimate has to say about the climate sensitivity to CO2. "The models actually do pretty well when you compare them to the past. The best fit is 2.8°C.

Dr. Alley concludes, "Where we really stand now, is, we're not quite at the pound on the table, this story is very clearly not done. But an increasing body of science indicates that CO2 has been the most important controller of global average climate of the Earth."

I'll have a new post Sunday or Monday.

Jeff Masters
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127566
BREAKING NEWS: According to Frank Strait's fan page on Facebook, Joe Bastardi is now gone from Accuweather. Below is the post from Frank's page.

Let me go ahead and say now that I can't really answer any questions about the departure of Joe Bastardi from AccuWeather. Besides, I really don't know anything about it, anyway, except that it's happened.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Patrap:
When you increase Global Temps,,you increase Global WV at a Given rate.

The archived entries of the author here explained that some time back.









Which implies smaller dewpoint depressions, but does not necessarily imply an increase in precipitation.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
The Biggest Control Knob: CO2 in Earth's Climate History

Posted by: JeffMasters, 4:05 PM CDT on March 24, 2010
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127566
Quoting Patrap:
co2now.org


391.19 ppm



What the world needs to watch

Global warming is mainly the result of CO2 levels rising in the Earth’s atmosphere. Both atmospheric CO2 and climate change are accelerating. Climate scientists say we have years, not decades, to stabilize CO2 and other greenhouse gases.

To help the world succeed, CO2Now.org makes it easy to see the most current CO2 level and what it means. So, use this site and keep an eye on CO2. Invite others to do the same. Then we can do more to send CO2 in the right direction.

Watch CO2 now and know the score on global warming, practically in real time.


And, this also lets us know just how close we're getting to that "2100 worst case scenario" chart showing us reaching 900ppm in the next 89 years.

As of now, we're only 508.81ppm away.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
200. beell
Quoting BahaHurican:
So basically NOAA is saying the trend is towards lesser snowfall over the last century...



No, I think they're saying there is no detectable increase in heavy snowstorms in the mid-­Atlantic region.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
When you increase Global Temps,,you increase Global WV at a Given rate.

The archived entries of the author here explained that some time back.







Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127566
Quoting hcubed:
And NOAA's take on the causes for Mid-­Atlantic Snowstorms During the Winter of 2009-­2010:

Winter of 09/10

"...Historical analysis of U.S. snowfall indicates that there has been no detectable increase in heavy snowstorms in the mid-­Atlantic region. The results from Changnon, et al., in fact suggest that the period 1901-50 experienced a greater frequency of heavy snowstorms as the period 1951-2000..."
So basically NOAA is saying the trend is towards lesser snowfall over the last century...

Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21487
co2now.org


391.19 ppm



What the world needs to watch

Global warming is mainly the result of CO2 levels rising in the Earth’s atmosphere. Both atmospheric CO2 and climate change are accelerating. Climate scientists say we have years, not decades, to stabilize CO2 and other greenhouse gases.

To help the world succeed, CO2Now.org makes it easy to see the most current CO2 level and what it means. So, use this site and keep an eye on CO2. Invite others to do the same. Then we can do more to send CO2 in the right direction.

Watch CO2 now and know the score on global warming, practically in real time.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127566
And NOAA's take on the causes for Mid-­Atlantic Snowstorms During the Winter of 2009-­2010:

Winter of 09/10

"...Historical analysis of U.S. snowfall indicates that there has been no detectable increase in heavy snowstorms in the mid-­Atlantic region. The results from Changnon, et al., in fact suggest that the period 1901-50 experienced a greater frequency of heavy snowstorms as the period 1951-2000..."
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Afternoon all.... ho hum, the blog is a laugh riot today...

Thank u all for ur support.... today was a bummer right up to the time I tuned in...


LOL
Member Since: October 25, 2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 21487
Quoting Patrap:
.."Tis better to keep thy mouth shut and be thought a fool in NOLA,(good Luck wit dat thought), than to be a Sen. from Oklahoma who opens his Mouth and remove's all doubt"...




Global Climate Change Indicators
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
National Climatic Data Center



Many lines of scientific evidence show the Earth's climate is changing. This page presents the latest information from several independent measures of observed climate change that illustrate an overwhelmingly compelling story of a planet that is undergoing global warming. It is worth noting that increasing global temperature is only one element of observed global climate change. Precipitation patterns are also changing; storms and other extremes are changing as well.

How do we know the Earth's climate is warming?

Thousands of land and ocean temperature measurements are recorded each day around the globe. This includes measurements from climate reference stations, weather stations, ships, buoys and autonomous gliders in the oceans. These surface measurements are also supplemented with satellite measurements. These measurements are processed, examined for random and systematic errors, and then finally combined to produce a time series of global average temperature change. A number of agencies around the world have produced datasets of global-scale changes in surface temperature using different techniques to process the data and remove measurement errors that could lead to false interpretations of temperature trends

The warming trend that is apparent in all of the independent methods of calculating global temperature change is also confirmed by other independent observations, such as the melting of mountain glaciers on every continent, reductions in the extent of snow cover, earlier blooming of plants in spring, a shorter ice season on lakes and rivers, ocean heat content, reduced arctic sea ice, and rising sea levels.


And, at the same time, there's this from NOAA:

Can Record Snowstorms And Global Warming Coexist?

"...Still, bitter cold temperatures and blizzards of historic proportions prompted the questions: Why were there so many historic snowstorms in the mid-Atlantic region this winter? Are they evidence that global warming isn’t happening?

No, the globe is warming. But the real story behind the mid-Atlantic’s winter isn’t about climate change, it’s about climate variability. Climate variability, the term scientists use, explains why record-breaking snowstorms and global warming can coexist. In fact, many of the weather events observed this winter help to confirm our understanding of the climate system, including links between weather and climate.

And the continuing story:

Forensic Meteorology Solves the Mystery of Record Snows

"...After a series of record-setting snowstorms hit the mid-Atlantic region this winter, some people asked NOAA if humans could somehow be to blame. Specifically, they wanted to know if human-induced global warming could have caused the snowstorms due to the fact that a warmer atmosphere holds more water vapor.

The CSI Team’s analysis indicates that’s not likely. They found no evidence — no human “fingerprints” — to implicate our involvement in the snowstorms. If global warming was the culprit, the team would have expected to find a gradual increase in heavy snowstorms in the mid-Atlantic region as temperatures rose during the past century. But historical analysis revealed no such increase in snowfall. Nor did the CSI team find any indication of an upward trend in winter precipitation along the eastern seaboard..."

Wow. And from NOAA, too. Gotta believe them, they ARE the experts, after all...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
If/when this documentary plays in your town--or you can find it online or in a video store--you should watch it. As the trailer explains, even if you're a denialist bar none, you can't possibly disagree the film's premise:

Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13459
Quoting bappit:

Hilarious. Sort of like the Sean Hannity Liberty tree thing on Colbert. Pretty bad when their own words make good parody.



LOL, yeah very similar, except they are being serious! Makes it even funnier if you ask me.
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Quoting bappit:

Hilarious. Sort of like the Sean Hannity Liberty tree thing on Colbert. Pretty bad when their own words make good parody.


Fox News. News for idiots. Comedy for everyone else.
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Quoting Neapolitan:

Already there...


Biking to work from where I live is so popular it even has its own slang names. It's known as early retirement, permanent disability, road kill, suicide, and several other encouraging titles. :P
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Those of you in the Balcony,,just rattle yer Jewelry.


Those in front,,enjoy the show.

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127566
Quoting beell:
Here ya go, Neap. This should last you a while.
;-]

Top 100 effects of Global Warming

Hilarious. Sort of like the Sean Hannity Liberty tree thing on Colbert. Pretty bad when their own words make good parody.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Patrap:
Lordy,...

Yeah,,U.S. Oil Import impacts over People deposing another Multi-Decadel dictator is our first thought and concern.


How Texas of you.



plttttttttttttttt................................ ,

Hmmmmm, now that the oil is gone from my home state. What, it used to be "drive 70, freeze a Yankee to death"?
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Quoting Patrap:
How did we let such fools come into power in America?

Sen. Inhofe R Oklahoma

Legislation - Committee Assignments

* Standing Committee on Armed Services
website: http://armed-services.senate.gov/
- Subcommittee on Airland
- Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support
- Subcommittee on Strategic Forces

* Standing Committee on Environment and Public Works (Ranking Member)
website: http://epw.senate.gov/


- Subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate Change, and Nuclear Safety
- Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, and Water
- Subcommittee on Superfund and Waste Management
- Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure






Minus,
Minus
Minus


You call one of our leaders a fool for saying Global Warming is exaggerated? Really? Not only is that disrespectful, but I'm pretty sure we can speak of a fool in this case, but its not the Senator who is the fool.

I disagree with much of what President Obama believes, but I certainly shouldn't be calling him a fool, and I won't.

But of course if you have a blind paranoia about Global Warming, I guess in your mind there's no other choice but to consider leaders who disagree to be fools.
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Quoting beell:
Here ya go, Neap. This should last you a while.
;-]

Top 100 effects of Global Warming


Put out by the Center for American Progress.

"...American Progress is slated to operate with a $10 million budget next year, raised from big donors like the financier George Soros..."

"...George Soros makes headlines, but not nearly as well as he makes money. His Soros Fund Management's generally successful hedge funds, including its flagship Quantum Fund, often invest according to macroeconomic trends. The company oversees some $26 billion, which it uses to buy large stakes in the energy, transportation, financial, retail, and other industries. It owns stakes in oil exploration firm Hess Corporation, and Ford Motor Company..."

Somebody else that has ties to big oil...
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Fools with lots of money that's how
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Quoting Grothar:


Most of them have had a good rotation. Hope their cousins in the Atlantic don't get any ideas this coming season. How do you doing Keep? You haven't insulted me in a while, you mad at me or something. LOL.
nah iam not mad at ya doing good just chillin surfing the world wide web
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
Quoting Patrap:
..."He shoulda looked left and he shoulda looked right"..


Dead skunk in the middle of the road.
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
nice spinner had a lot of nice spinners down there so far for 2011 iam sure there is a lot of nice spinners yet to come


Most of them have had a good rotation. Hope their cousins in the Atlantic don't get any ideas this coming season. How do you doing Keep? You haven't insulted me in a while, you mad at me or something. LOL.
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Quoting Patrap:
Lordy,...

Yeah,,U.S. Oil Import impacts over People deposing another Multi-Decadel dictator is our first thought and concern.


How Texas of you.



plttttttttttttttt................................ ,
get ready here it comes
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
I beg your pardon Patrap
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Quoting Grothar:
Atu


nice spinner had a lot of nice spinners down there so far for 2011 iam sure there is a lot of nice spinners yet to come
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
Quoting RitaEvac:
We might be biking to work soon then

Already there...
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13459
Quoting Cochise000:


Do you actually believe that? The publishers of those ridiculous articles don't include one middle-of-the-road publication.

Well, neither Faux nor WUWT are "middle-of-the-road", if that's what you're looking for.
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13459
About the "100 year floods" argument.

From Wiki:

"...A one-hundred-year flood is calculated to be the level of flood water expected to be equaled or exceeded every 100 years on average. The 100-year flood is more accurately referred to as the 1% annual exceedance probability flood, since it is a flood that has a 1% chance of being equaled or exceeded in any single year..."

And how do they determine the "odds"?

"...There are a number of assumptions which are made to complete the analysis which determines the 100-year flood.

First, the extreme events observed in each year, must be independent from year-to-year. In other words the maximum river flow rate from 1984, can not be found to be significantly correlated with the observed flow rate in 1985. 1985 can not be correlated with 1986, and so forth.

The second assumption is that the observed extreme events must come from the same probability distribution function.

The third assumption is that the probability distribution relates to the largest storm (rainfall or river flow rate measurement) that occurs in any one year.

The fourth assumption is that the probability distribution function is stationary, meaning that the mean (average), standard deviation and max/min values are not increasing or decreasing over time. This concept is referred to as stationarity..."

In the first, every change to river flow (levees, dams, changes to flood planes, etc), changes the probability distribution function.

The second means that each area has its own probability distribution function. The Red River probabilities would be different from the Mississippi River probabilities.

The third assumption means that there can only be one "hundred year flood" per year in a given area.

The fourth assumption also changes the odds.

For us to tell if a particular area has had a repeat of a "hundred year flood" assumes the temps haven't changed over the past hundred years.

Every tenth of a degree rise in the temperature means the probability distribution function must be recalculated, starting the "hundred year" clock over again.

Since the conditions over the past 100 years has changed, we can't tell if these are true 100 year floods or not.
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Atu


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Their own government will blow up the oil
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Lordy,...

Yeah,,U.S. Oil Import impacts over People deposing another Multi-Decadel dictator is our first thought and concern.


How Texas of you.



plttttttttttttttt................................ ,
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127566
Carlos:


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Quoting RitaEvac:
If they blow up the oil in Libya, well....we better be buying a Schwinn Bicycle.
no one is going to blow up the oil in libya the people must rise in overwhelming support for themselves and demand a fair and democratic election process to guide the future propersity for there country and domain
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 169 Comments: 53296
(CNN) -- Real estate mogul Donald Trump says he is seriously thinking about running for president but won't make a final decision until summer.

Appearing on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight" Wednesday night, Trump said the United States is faring poorly and has lost the respect of the world.

"I am seriously thinking about it. I won't make a decision till June," he said. "But I will make a decision and it may surprise people frankly, but I will make a decision sometime prior to June."

"I love this country. I hate what's happened to this country," he added. "We're a laughingstock throughout the world. We're not respected."

The multi-billionaire tycoon said that if elected, he would reassess American foreign policy, especially its relationship with China whom he considers "the enemy."



"The first thing I would do is announce very strongly that we're going to tax Chinese products -- 25% tax on all Chinese products. They will come to the table immediately and stop manipulating their currency which they're doing," he said.

"I see them as the enemy," he said. "They want to take over this country economically. They are not really out-competing. They are cheating. And we have people who don't know what to do, because we have the wrong people in office."

He also had harsh words for OPEC.

"Worse than China is OPEC," he said. "They wouldn't be there except for us. Twelve men sit around the table. They set the price of fuel. They set the price of $3.50 for your car right now, a gallon. Guess what that's going to be? 5, 6 and $7 very soon. Of course, there's nobody here that calls them and says, 'Fellows, you better not do it. "

Trump is worth an estimated $2 billion, according to Forbes magazine. Much of his success came in New York City's real estate market, but he has also been the star of a TV series called "The Apprentice" where he is reportedly paid $3 million per episode.

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If they blow up the oil in Libya, well....we better be buying a Schwinn Bicycle.
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160. Skyepony (Mod)
Aussie~ Nice looking Ute. Cars on roofs.. a few weeks ago it was horses. That's extreme.

Babbit~ Thanks for the Woolworth info.

Looks like the power outages may have just missed Ann Arbor..

About 109,000 utility customers remain without power after a winter storm dumped heavy snow, sleet and ice on much of Lower Michigan. Consumers Energy spokesman Tim Pietryga (puh-TRE'-guh) said in a statement Monday that most of the Jackson-based utility's customers without power are in Kalamazoo, Lenawee, Monroe, Hillsdale, Calhoun and Branch counties. He said more than 117,000 customers have been affected by weather-related outages. Pietryga said crews were expected to work through Monday, but the company was not expected to estimate when power would be restored until later in the day. The National Weather service in White Lake Township says six to 10 inches of snow fell on southern Michigan since the storm began Sunday afternoon.
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We might be biking to work soon then
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Schwinn Bicycle is up 5.6% though..
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127566

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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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