April 1, 2014
APRIL 1, 2014 - LANSING, MI Governor Rick Snyder traveled to Ishpeming in the Upper Peninsula to announce to a crowd of media, dignitaries and frozen-in-place Michiganders that effective immediately, the “Pure Michigan” tourism campaign will be re-branded as “Pure Snow”.
“Who are we kidding?” Gov. Snyder asked. “Winter 2014 was like something out of the latest Thor movie (which coincidentally cost less to make than this year’s snow plowing bill). Pure Michigan has served the state well for years, but even though it looks like we’re in the clear now - in another six months, it’s back to winter again!”
The state’s $8.4 million dollar re-branding effort will seek to market travel by snowmobilers, skiers and “people without a brain in their head.” The State rock will now be “ice”, the State capital will now be Pellston, the “Ice Box of the North”, the State motto will be “If you seek a pleasant peninsula, what the heck are you doing here?” and the State animal will now be “frozen in a snowdrift”.
March 29, 2014
March 26, 2014
Although the Soo Locks opened yesterday, UpNorthLive reports that for the first time in 20 years no ships passed through. Click through for a video story that includes footage from the Locks and an interview with Soo Locks Lock Master Tom Soeltner.
About the photo, the Coast Guard News writes:
The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw steers the cutter through the fog as it passed through the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., March 21, 2014. The Mackinaw along with the Coast Guard Cutters Morro Bay and Katmai Bay passed through the locks together en route to breaking ice in the St. Marys River and Lake Superior in preparation of the scheduled opening of the Locks, March 25. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Levi Read.
March 25, 2014
Thing number 757 about Michigan that I think is cool: you can ride bikes on lakes.
…AHH Spring, when a young man’s fancy turns towards . . . riding around the lake ON the lake! Still very much frozen solid in western Michigan! Temps tonight well below freezing, a few inches of snow predicted, and people are riding on the ice on fat bikes! Have a good “spring” week Facebook and Flickr friends!
March 22, 2014
Michigan Gardener’s plant focus on Snowdrops begins:
The very first bulb to cheerfully announce spring is the snowdrop. As the last winter snow melts, carpets of delicate white flowers emerge through last year’s fallen leaves. Snowdrops will reliably return year after year despite Mother Nature’s most challenging winters. The botanical name, Galanthus, comes from the Greek words Gala meaning “milk” and anthos meaning “flower.” They will thrive in the rich, moist soil usually found in the shade provided by deciduous trees. Few bulbs can tolerate shade, but snowdrops develop in the winter sun well before the leaves of trees and shrubs have expanded. Their flowers last for several weeks beginning in early March and persisting through the cool days of spring in early April. Once planted, Galanthus require no maintenance.
Read on at Michigan Gardener and bring on the spring!
March 21, 2014
March 19, 2014
March 15, 2014
Many have cursed the cold of this winter that is almost over now though spring seems a long way off. It has caused hardships and pain but has also given rare opportunities to many who have been willing to bundle up and seek the wonders the cold has brought about.
A few weeks ago a friend asked me on somewhat short notice if I’d join him for a walk along the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. I’d walked the cliffs above the Lake before but the extreme cold of this wonderful winter granted us the opportunity to walk on even the Greatest of Lakes. We had two nights out with no fire to warm us but it was well worth it and a most amazing hike.
March 14, 2014
March 11, 2014
NOAA’s current space weather forecast reports an M Class (moderate) solar flare from solar region AR2002. Spaceweather.com adds that AR2002 has destabilized its magnetic field, making it more likely to erupt, and that NOAA forecasters are estimating a 60% chance of M-class flares and a 10% chance of X-class flares during the next 24 hours. X-class flares are major solar events that can spawn incredible auroras visible far to the south of us, planet-wide radio blackouts and long-lasting radiation storms. Click to Space Weather for a video of AR2002 development.
While there’s not much chance of a major event, I thought it was interesting that 25 years ago this week, one of the most significant solar storms in memory created a spectacle in the skies as it demonstrated the power and danger of solar weather to modern society. A Conflagration of Storms begins:
On Thursday, March 9, 1989 astronomers at the Kitt Peak Solar Observatory spotted a major solar flare in progress. Eight minutes later, the Earth’s outer atmosphere was struck by a wave of powerful ultraviolet and X-ray radiation. Then the next day, an even more powerful eruption launched a cloud of gas 36 times the size of the from Active Region 5395 nearly dead center on the Sun. The storm cloud rushed out from the Sun at a million miles an hour, and on the evening of Monday, March 13 it struck the Earth. Alaskan and Scandinavian observers were treated to a spectacular auroral display that night. Intense colors from the rare Great Aurora painted the skies around the world in vivid shapes that moved like legendary dragons. Ghostly celestial armies battled from sunset to midnight. Newspapers that reported this event considered the aurora, itself, to be the most newsworthy aspect of the storm. Seen as far south as Florida and Cuba, the vast majority of people in the Northern Hemisphere had never seen such a spectacle. Some even worried that a nuclear first-strike might be in progress.
…Millions marveled at the beautiful celestial spectacle, and solar physicists delighted in the new data it brought to them, but many more were not so happy about it.
Silently, the storm had impacted the magnetic field of the Earth and caused a powerful jet stream of current to flow 1000 miles above the ground. Like a drunken serpent, its coils gyrated and swooped downwards in latitude, deep into North America. As midnight came and went, invisible electromagnetic forces were staging their own pitched battle in a vast arena bounded by the sky above and the rocky subterranean reaches of the Earth. A river of charged particles and electrons in the ionosphere flowed from west to east, inducing powerful electrical currents in the ground that surged into many natural nooks and crannies. There, beneath the surface, natural rock resistance murdered them quietly in the night. Nature has its own effective defenses for these currents, but human technology was not so fortunate on this particular night. The currents eventually found harbor in the electrical systems of Great Britain, the United States and Canada.
You can read on for more about how the storm spawned a power outage in Quebec and pushed US systems to the brink of collapse. If you want to totally geek out on auroral science, check this article out about how the Earth’s magnetosphere actually extends itself to block solar storms.