Tag Archives: winter

Experts urge safe driving with extreme cold temperatures

Snow street scenes
It isn’t only snow and ice that can pose risks to Michigan drivers during the winter, but also brutally cold temperatures. When temperatures dip below zero as they have in recent days, Nick Jarmusz, director of public affairs with AAA, said drivers should never hit the road with a tank that’s close to empty.

“Keep at least a half-tank of gas in your car at all times during cold weather to avoid engine freeze-up,” Jarmusz said. “That way, if you do get stranded, you have enough gas to periodically run the engine to keep the car warmed up.”

In addition, Jarmusz said it’s best to check your vehicle’s battery before a cold spell. Faulty batteries cause more car-starting problems than any other factor. He said, at zero degrees, even a good battery has about 35 percent less starting power.

If a car is to break down, state courtesy vans and police are often on the lookout for stranded drivers. If your car freezes up or breaks down, or if you get in a wreck, Jarmusz strongly recommends staying with your vehicle.

“If you start venturing away from your car, the elements are going to be a bigger danger to you than if you were to stay and wait,” he said. “If you’re on a road you can either flag down help or wait for an emergency vehicle. If you have your cell phone, you can call for help.”

Perhaps most importantly, Jarmusz said, is to take precautions before even beginning a drive. When roads are slippery, he said, front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive can help a great deal to get a vehicle going – but once it’s at cruising speed, they do nothing to help you slow down or stop. Also, he said “no” to cruise control on snowy or slippery roads.

“It maintains a specific speed, and if you begin to slide, the vehicle is going to want to keep the wheels spinning at the same rate, in order to maintain the same speed,” says Jarmusz. “What it’s going to do is contribute to loss of control, and if you run into a less-traction situation, the wheels are going to keep spinning.”

If your vehicle has anti-lock brakes, he said applying constant, firm pressure is best to bring the vehicle to a controlled stop under slippery conditions.

Emergency supplemental deer feeding possible near you

The past two harsh winters and a coming third have many people worried about Michigan’s deer population.

Russ Mason, Chief of the Michigan DNR’s Wildlife division, said supplemental feeding in certain areas could help.

“We would move on public land. The public can get a permit from us and under certain conditions, so far from a road and so forth, they can feed if they choose to do so.”

The public will only be allowed to feed on private land.

Mason made it a point to explain how dangerous feeding can be if done improperly. He says people could end up harming more deer than they help.

Recreation passports generate over $20 million in 2014

This is what your tab would look like with purchase of the Recreational Passport. Photo courtesy of the Michigan DNR.

This is what your tab would look like with purchase of the Recreational Passport. Photo courtesy of the Michigan DNR.

Who knew renewing your license plate tabs could be a segway into getting outdoors this winter?
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Geminid meteor shower expected to wow this weekend

If you love the night sky, try to set some time aside over the next several evenings for one of the best meteor showers of the year, the geminids.

The geminid meteor shower will be taking place over the next few days, with astronomy experts predicting it to peak Saturday and Sunday.

Mary Adams is the Director of the International Dark Sky Park in Emmet County.

She said this meteor shower is one of the most prolific meteor showers of the year, and one you won’t want to miss.

“The estimate is that there can be between 120 and 160 meteors per hour, so that’s more than one per minute. That’s a lot of activity.”

Adams said despite the shower’s greater quantity of meteors, some light pollution from the moon may hinder peak viewing hours.

She said, “We are at the last quarter moon when the meteor shower comes to it’s peak, and the last quarter moon can still shed a great deal of light into the sky. So we might not be seeing those numbers just because of the light of the moon, but it still should be a magnificent show this year.”

She said since the geminid typically appears earlier in the evening, anytime after 10pm should be fine for viewing.

The next meteor shower, Ursid, takes place around the winter solstice December 21st.

Michigan energy appraisal estimates lower bills

The state says its bi-annual energy appraisal shows that residents will have a bit more money in their pockets this Winter.

Judy Palnau is a media specialist with the Michigan Public Service Commission. She says although unit price has risen for natural gas users, overall they should be paying less.

“Bills will be going down despite the fact that natural gas prices per unit are expected to be up. Last year was actually the reverse. We were paying an 11-year low per unit of natural gas, but because we were using so much more of it to keep warm, many people saw their bills actually go up, despite the lower price.”

Palnau says the estimate is based on the assumption that Michigan will have a return to normal winter weather this year.

We spoke to the National Weather Service office in Gaylord. Their meteorologists say Michigan will likely see a slightly colder than normal winter, however it will be nowhere near as cold as last year’s Polar Vortex.

The MPSC says even if Michigan has another remarkably cold Winter, there is enough energy stored to avoid a crisis.

Energy costs, demand expected to increase this summer

file0001691310751This past winter season impacted more than just Michigan roads.

State officials say the brutal winter and the polar vortex is also likely to impact summer energy prices. Continue reading

Sign of Spring: Horses return to Mackinac Island

Courtesy of Carriage ToursEvery winter, Mackinac Island’s horses are moved to the mainland, where it is cheaper to feed them during the tourism off-season. And every spring, the horses make their triumphant return to the island.
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Be prepared to protect your landscape this winter

Snowy TreesAutumn leaves are off the trees in many areas leaving behind trees that are vulnerable to the upcoming winter . Arborists say now is the perfect time for property owners to consider tree protection.

Winter is known for being a season of severe weather. Trees can be damaged by windstorms, lightning, ice and snow. Arborists say homeowners should know in advance how their trees will handle winter weather.

Ben Veling, master arborist with Timberwolf Tree Care, said a few tree species such as Chinese elm, silver maple and some poplars, have brittle wood that is easily broken and can cause serious damage.
“The best thing people can do is to be active with their trees, is to have an interaction. Have a baseline, understand what the potential risks might be, some species are more prone to failure than others, and some have characteristic growth that is more likely to fail in storms or ice buildup than other trees. So having a good discussion with your arborist would be a great way to start, another thing to do is keep up on the maintenance.”

According to Veling, it’s essential to pay attention to a tree’s weakness because the stability and integrity will decrease over time as it ages.

In the interest of full disclosure, Timberwolf Tree Care is an underwriter of CMU Public Radio. To find an arborist near you click here