News for the Nervous: Mackinac Bridge Driver’s Assistance Program

Mackinac Bridge Snow Winter

Mackinac Bridge, photo by Blondieyooper

Fun fact of the day: I have a mild fear of heights! While it’s not crippling enough to stop me from being able to drive over the Mighty Mac, I can definitely see where some people aren’t able to do that. For all of you, here’s a story (with a good video) about a little known service: The Mackinac Bridge Authority will drive you across!

The Mackinac Bridge Authority explains further:

The Mackinac Bridge Authority has a “Driver’s Assistance Program” that provides drivers for those uncomfortable with driving across the Mackinac Bridge. If you are traveling northbound, there is a phone at the south end of the bridge. Instructions for using the phone are posted in the phone box. If you are southbound, just ask a fare collector for assistance. There is no additional fee for this service.

The phone is located on the shoulder of I-75 just north of the Jamet Street exit to Mackinaw City (near Audies Restaurant). You do not need to exit the freeway. Just past the exit, you can pull over to the right and park on the shoulder. The phone box is located on the right-of-way fencing. The box is green and easily spotted. If this is still unclear, please call us at 906-643-7600.

View Blondieyooper’s photo background big and see more in her Gotta Love Winter slideshow.

Lots more about the Mighty Mac on Michigan in Pictures.

Back into the freezer, Michigan

Ice Palace Grand Haven Lighthouse

Winter Wonderland, photo by David Behrens

mLive meteorologist Mark Torregrossa says that severe & sustained cold temps plus heavy lake effect snow are coming to Michigan this week:

Most of the heavy lake effect this winter has come on a northwest wind. The lake effect this week will be brought by a more northerly wind. So the lake effect will fall closer to the Lake Michigan shoreline. The heaviest snow will likely fall in the far southwest corner of Lower Michigan from St. Joseph to Michigan City, IN and South Bend, IN. Also heavy lake effect should fall from Traverse City, Leelanau County and southward to just west of Cadillac.

The heaviest areas of lake effect snow should easily have 6″ of snow, with spots getting up to a foot of snow.

…No area will escape the deep cold. This cold snap won’t be like the other cold snaps this winter that only lasted a few days. This cold snap will start Tuesday and gradually get colder each day into next weekend. By the time temperatures bottom out this weekend, we’ll freeze with highs in the teens and low temperatures in the single digits above or below zero.

The wind will push wind chill temperatures down to -10° to -20° at times in the second half of the week.

David took this last winter at Grand Haven. Check it out bigger and see more in his Home Sweet Home slideshow.

More about the Grand Haven Pier Light along with a crazy photo of the waves that make these ice formations on Michigan in Pictures!

A Snowflake’s Life: How Snowflakes Get Their Shape

A Snowflakes Life

A Snowflake’s Life, photo by Shawn Malone/Lake Superior Photo

“Lives are snowflakes – unique in detail, forming patterns we have seen before, but as like one another as peas in a pod (and have you ever looked at peas in a pod? I mean, really looked at them? There’s not a chance you’d mistake one for another, after a minute’s close inspection.)”
Neil Gaiman, American Gods

One of my favorite websites is EarthSky, and they explain how snowflakes get their shape:

The shape of snowflakes is influenced by the temperature and humidity of the atmosphere. Snowflakes form in the atmosphere when cold water droplets freeze onto dust particles. Depending on the temperature and humidity of the air where the snowflakes form, the resulting ice crystals will grow into a myriad of different shapes.

…Kenneth Libbrecht, Professor of Physics at the California Institute of Technology, has made extensive observations of how water molecules get incorporated into snow crystals. In his research, he has observed that the most intricate snowflake patterns are formed when there is moisture in the air. Snowflakes produced in drier conditions tend to have simpler shapes.

Temperature also has a large effect on the formation of snowflakes according to Libbrecht’s research. Snowflakes formed in temperatures below – 22 degrees Celsius (- 7.6 degrees Fahrenheit) consist primarily of simple crystal plates and columns whereas snowflakes with extensive branching patterns are formed in warmer temperatures.

Bottom line: Temperature and humidity influence snowflake formation. The most intricate snowflake patterns are typically formed during warm and wet conditions.

Read on for more including some links & photos!

Shawn writes that she can totally relate to this snowflake’s imperfect life. View it background big on Facebook, check out more including a kickin’ video of the Northern Lights at the Mackinac Bridge on her Lake Superior Photo page, and view and purchase photos from LakeSuperiorPhoto.com.

More winter wallpaper and more snow on Michigan in Pictures.

PS: Congrats to Shawn for passing 200,000 subscribers on her Facebook page – wowzas!!

PPS: Neil Gaiman‘s American Gods is an incredible work of modern day fantasy.

Cold Air Waterspouts

Cold Air Funnel Cloud III

Cold Air Waterspouts, photos by Debbie Maglothin

If you live along the Great Lakes, chances are you’ve seen a waterspout from time to time. While waterspouts are typically formed when cold air moves over warm water in late summer or early fall, occasionally the reverse can happen.

Debbie Maglothin took several photos of cold air waterspouts over Lake Michigan off the Ludington State Park beach. WZZM 13 meteorologist Alana Nehring explains how they form:

A drastic temperature difference between the air an water is required. In the most recent event, water temperatures were near 32 degrees while air temperatures were closer to 10 degrees.

A steady breeze needs to be present to jump-start the process of evaporation.

In most cases, this is also how lake-effect snow is produced but in some unique situations, a slight twisting motion will occur in the steam above the water. If it is maintained long enough, eventually weak funnels will develop.

Click the pics to view them bigger and follow Debbie on Facebook at Cha Bella Photography.

Cold Air Funnel Cloud II Cold Air Funnel Cloud

More Michigan weather on Michigan in Pictures.

Have a blast on New Year’s Eve!

Powerful Wave at Petoskey

Powerful Winds & Waves, photo by Julie

And please stay safe – the last way you want to start 2016 off is in jail or dead!

View Julie’s photo of the huge winds on December 24th exploding off the Petoskey breakwall bigger and see more in her Michigan slideshow.

Ten Years of Michigan in Pictures

Ludington Lighthouse by RJE

Ludington Lighthouse, photo by RJE

10 years ago today, I posted “A Pond in Bald Mountain” as the very first photo on Michigan in Pictures. 3000+ posts later, I’m still at it. RJE has been sharing photos with me for almost all of those 10 years – thanks to him and everyone else who helps make Michigan in Pictures something that is fun and exciting for me and to all of you for staying with me for so long!

View the photo from November of 2005 background big and see more of RJE’s lighthouse shots on Flickr.

 

December 23rd Detroit Tornado is Michigan’s First Ever

Detroit Tornado

Detroit Tornado, photo by Joe Gall

The National Weather Service reports on the first ever December tornado in Michigan:

A strong low pressure system tracking from the southern Plains into the Upper Great Lakes brought record December warmth to Southeast Michigan on Wednesday, December 23rd. Stronger winds associated with this system interacted with the unseasonably warm air to produce the first December tornado in Michigan history during the evening. This tornado occurred in Wayne County, just north-northeast of Canton. The tornado was rated EF-1 with peak winds of 90 mph. The tornado touched down at 643 pm EST, tracking 2 miles before lifting at 646 pm EST.

This brief tornado developed along a fast moving line of showers that shifted across Southeast Michigan during the evening (5 to 8 pm). A Significant Weather Statement (SPS) was issued at 620 pm, highlighting the potential for wind gusts up to 50 mph. The brief duration and weak intensity of this tornado made the issuance of a tornado warning nearly impossible, typical of brief spin-ups that are embedded along a fast moving line. In many cases, such as this one, the tornado touchdown occurs largely between radar scans, leaving little opportunity for advanced warning.

This is the first December tornado in Michigan history and only the third during the winter season. The other two tornadoes occurred on Jan 18, 1996 in Kalamazoo County and Feb 28, 1974 in Wayne County.

You can get a report on the tornado with images of the very minor damage from WDIV TV-4/Click on Detroit.

Joe photoshopped this picture back in 2011, so please don’t tell me it’s not real because I know that. View it on Flickr and see more in his Movement 2011 slideshow.

More weather fun on Michigan in Pictures.