Last winter’s polar vortex froze more than just the Great Lakes.
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.
Beginning last year, meteorologists have been trying to crack the question of which are the nation’s worst, or best, winters.
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.
Who knew renewing your license plate tabs could be a segway into getting outdoors this winter?
Governor Rick Snyder and legislative leaders are trying to convince state lawmakers to adopt a plan to raise one-point-three billion dollars for roads, and then put the question on the ballot in May.
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.
Meteorologists say we can expect a mild December. It’s the result of an increasing El Nino pattern in the south pacific.
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.
Michigan residents are being encouraged to begin preparing for the winter by “weatherizing” their homes.