Facing uncertainty, Michigan begins to re-open

Mackinac Bridge by Daniel L

Mackinac Bridge by Daniel L

Yesterday, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an Executive Order allowing for the reopening of retail, business & office work that can’t be done remotely, and restaurants and bars with limited seating for northwest Lower Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.

The two regions are both in the northern part of the state—specifically, MERC regions 6 and 8, as detailed in the governor’s MI Safe Start Plan to re-engage Michigan’s economy. The partial reopening will take effect on Friday, May 22. Cities, villages, and townships may choose to take a more cautious course if they wish: the order does not abridge their authority to restrict the operations of restaurants or bars, including limiting such establishments to outdoor seating.

…“The data shows that these regions in Michigan are seeing consistent encouraging trends when it comes to the number of cases, deaths, and the percent of tests that are positive for COVID-19,” said MDHHS Chief Deputy for Health and Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun. “It’s important to note that these businesses must take special precautions to protect Michiganders. I also encourage everyone to continue to wear a mask in public, maintain a 6 foot distance from others, and to remain vigilant in washing their hands often. This will help prevent a second surge in cases in our state.”

All businesses that will reopen in regions 6 and 8 must adopt the safety measures outlined in Executive Order 2020-91. That means they must, among other things, provide COVID-19 training to workers that covers, at a minimum, workplace infection-control practices, the proper use of PPE, steps workers must take to notify the business or operation of any symptoms of COVID-19 or a suspected or confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19, and how to report unsafe working conditions. Restaurants and bars will also have to limit capacity to 50% of their normal seating, to keep groups at least six feet from one another, to require their servers to wear face coverings, and to follow rigorous disinfection protocols.

Read more at Michigan.gov and please stay safe AND keep others safe by wearing a mask. In addition to it being the law, you wearing a mask reduces the chance of infecting someone else by almost 70%!

Lots more in Daniel’s massive Michigan photo gallery on Flickr.

TONS more about the Mighty Mackinac Bridge on Michigan in Pictures.

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Great Lakes on the Rise in 2020

Precarious by Mark Swanson

Precarious by Mark Swanson

mLive reports that the six-month water level forecasts show a high-end forecast that could surpass all other modern water levels for some of the Great Lakes:

For the last three months, Lake Michigan and Lake Huron (which shares the same lake water level because they are linked) have set monthly record water levels. The monthly record water levels are expected to continue into summer. If we get significantly higher than usual precipitation, the water levels could slosh over the highest level ever recorded since good water level measurements began back in 1918.

…The upper end of the possible outcomes would take Lake Michigan and Lake Huron 5 inches higher than October 1986, the highest water level recorded since records began in 1918. July or August of this coming summer would be the months that could happen.

That would be a devastating high-water level for cities and beaches along the Lake Michigan and Lake Huron shoreline.

Remember one inch of water on Lake Michigan and Lake Huron is 800 billion gallons of water. If this summer’s water level reaches that upper end, Lake Michigan and Lake Huron would have 4 trillion gallons more water than the highest water level recorded by in the fall of 1986.

Read on for more about Lakes Superior (probably not dangerously high) and Erie & Ontario (also likely to be dangerously high).

Mark took this in February near Stevensville on Lake Michigan. See more in his Final 60 album.

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Blue Ice at Bay City

Bay City Blue Ice, photo by Great Lakes Drone Works

Great Lakes Drone Works captured some awesome shots from the ice on Saginaw Bay near Bay City. They write:

We made our way out to Bay City State Park to capture some images of these huge chunks of ice. At first we were hoping drone photos would be the way to go but after walking around and getting up close, it was clear that ground photography was the better option.
Blue ice occurs when weather conditions — such as a lack of high winds — allow water to freeze slowly and evenly, resulting in ice composed of large crystals (unlike snow, which is formed quickly and made up of small crystals).

When light hits these big ice crystals, it can travel deep into the structures (compare this to snow, wherein light hits a sharp edge and reflects off of it right away, resulting in blinding white). When the light travels deeper into slowly formed ice, some of the red wavelengths of sunlight — which is the longest wavelength of visible light — get absorbed into the ice structure.

The blue, which is the shortest wavelength of visible light, bounces back out, meet our eyes, and results in a deep aqua color.

Head over to their Facebook for more shots and get lots more icy goodness at the ice tag on Michigan in Pictures!

Pipeline deal reached … but what has changed?

Leaving the Pipeline

Leaving the Island, photo by Robert F. Carter

EDITOR’S NOTE: I agree with the position of Sean McBrearty of Clean Water Action – this “plan” to fix a multi-billion dollar threat to the economic engine of the Great Lakes within seven to ten YEARS is wildly unacceptable. We don’t need the pittance we receive from this pipeline in exchange for the unimaginable risk to the lives & livelihoods of all of us in the Great Lakes State.

In Michigan, company reach oil pipeline deal by Associated Press writer John Flesher writes (in part):

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration and Canadian pipeline giant Enbridge have agreed to replace twin 65-year-old crude oil pipes in a channel linking two of the Great Lakes with another that would run through a tunnel far below the lake bed, officials told The Associated Press.

The plan calls for drilling an opening for the new pipeline through bedrock at depths that could exceed 100 feet (30 meters) beneath the Straits of Mackinac, a more than 4-mile-wide (6.4-kilometer) waterway where Lakes Huron and Michigan converge, officials told the AP prior to an announcement scheduled for Wednesday. The massive engineering project is expected to take seven to 10 years to complete (my emphasis), at a cost of $350 million to $500 million — all of which the company would pay.

In the meantime, about 23 million gallons (87 million liters) of oil and natural gas liquids used to make propane would continue moving daily through the twin lines at the bottom of the straits. They are part of Enbridge’s Line 5, which extends 645 miles (1,038 kilometers) from Superior, Wisconsin, to Sarnia, Ontario, crossing large areas of northern Michigan.

…Environmental groups promised a fight as rumors of the agreement spread in recent days. They contend the only safe course is to reroute Enbridge’s oil away from the straits.

“Michigan gets nothing in this deal except a continued unacceptable risk to our water, while Enbridge continues to rake in massive profits and use our state as a shortcut for Canadian oil,” Sean McBrearty of Clean Water Action said during a Lansing rally this week.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether the next administration would have legal authority to undo the agreement. Michigan owns the straits bottomlands and granted Enbridge an easement when the pipes were laid in 1953. Creagh said any effort to revoke it would trigger a lengthy and expensive court battle.

Read on for more and follow John Flesher on Twitter @johnflesher.

View Robert’s photo bigger and see more in his My Neighborhood album.

 

Breaking up the band

Ice at the Mackinac Bridge, photo by Kent Babb

Winter’s grip on Michigan is slipping early all over including at the Straits of Mackinac.

View Kent’s photo background bigilicious and see more in his photostream on Flickr.

Lots more from the Mackinac Bridge on Michigan in Pictures!

 

Believe in Michigan’s Unbelievable Places

Beneath the Waves of Thunder Bay, photo by US National Marine Sanctuaries

Emily Bingham of mLive said that she created this list of Amazing Michigan places because “One of my favorite geeky things is meeting someone from out of state and showing them a photo of, say, Grand Portal Point or Empire Bluffs and hearing them say “THAT’s in Michigan?!” So then I decided, hey, how about I just publish a list so I have all my favorite brag-worthy Michigan spots in one place on the internet?? And voila.”

Voila indeed – definitely check this out. The photos of the twelve locations she picked are STUNNING! Here’s what she wrote about the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary:

Located in Lake Huron just off the coast of Alpena, this 4,300-square-mile protected area is one of the most significant shipwreck preserves in the entire country. More than 100 shipwrecks have been found here, making it an exciting destination for divers from all over the world.

Click through for 11 more plus a whole bunch of great photos from each of the places!

View the photo bigger on Instagram and definitely follow NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuaries for all kinds of pics of the wonderful world beneath the waves!

Big Change for Labor Day Mackinac Bridge Walk

FINAL INSTRUCTIONS, photo by Dave Trapp

Next Monday (September 4, 2017) is the annual Mackinac Bridge Walk, and you can click that link for all the details on the walk. This year is the 60th annual walk, and there will be a major change that the Northern Express explains:

“Because of threats happening across the country … We met with Homeland Security and the Michigan State Police, and it was decided that for the first time, we will not be allowing public [vehicle] traffic to drive across the bridge during the walk, for everyone’s safety and security,” said Bob Sweeney, executive secretary of the Mackinac Bridge Authority (MBA).

In prior years, the northbound bridge lanes were open to vehicles during the walk; this year, following incidents in London, Barcelona, and Charlottesville, Virginia, in which terrorists drove vehicles into crowds of pedestrians, the only vehicles allowed on the bridge will be law enforcement, emergency vehicles, and the shuttle buses that transport participants.

A total of 13 different law enforcement agencies — members of Homeland Security, the Michigan State Police, regional and local police, and the Native American Chippewa Tribe — will be on site for the event, including 240 troopers. Boats also will be deployed in the waters below the bridge.

Officials are quick to point out that there is no known threat to the event; they are simply taking precautions. Between 35,000 and 50,000 walkers are expected to participate.

Dave took this at the 2010 Bridge Walk which was attended by over 40,000 people. View it background big and see more in his Bridge Walk Weekend slideshow.

Lots more about the Mackinac Bridge on Michigan in Pictures!