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Winter's not finished yet

Mike Griswold checks a fishing hole in the ice on the Mill Pond in downtown Clarkston. Photos by Andrea Beaudoin (click for larger version)
March 12, 2014 - The Detroit area--which includes Clarkston—is just 9 ˝ inches away from breaking a record for the all-time snowiest winter.

"We have recorded 84.1 inches so far this winter and the record for Detroit is 93.6," said Rich Pollman, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in White Lake.

He added that it remains unclear if any snowfall on the horizon will help shatter that record.

"There is a system moving through the Eastern U.S. on Wednesday, but there is a lot of disagreement as to how much snow we will get," he said. Different computer models vary in their prediction of how strong the storm will be and how much snow we may get.

It may seem like the east coast is always getting slammed by wicked weather, so do they get more snow than we do here in Michigan?

No. "The reason it may seem that way is because New York is the media capital of the world so they just report it more," said Pollman. And while Eastern US states may get more snow at one time because of the ocean, the state of Michigan gets hit more often.

Michigan handles snowfall better.

One good thing about living in Michigan, because of the Great Lakes, we can handle more water from snowmelt.

While the Clarkston area will see flooding when all the snow melts—other waterways in Michigan like the Hamburg and Huron Rivers—are guaranteed to flood.

"Gauging rivers, and with our Spring Flood Outlook, this year we predict a high threat of flooding," said Pollman. "The risk is there."

Small creeks, streams and rivers will be higher than average this spring, and if the snowmelts quickly we will experience flooding in the streets and on flatter surfaces like farm fields.

Flooding means the snow is melting because of warmer temperatures, and so far much warmer temperatures are not in the forecast.

Pollman said the rest of the month will remain cold. Even April is forecast to be 15-20 degrees colder than average temperatures of around 50 degrees.

In addition to cold temperatures, expect the freeze to hang around too.

For the over two feet of ice on area lakes—certain conditions will make it disappear faster.

"If we get some warmer and windier conditions it will break up the ice faster," he said. "It still is going to take a while for the ice to melt."

Thick ice coating the lakes will mean higher lake levels this summer because the ice prevents evaporation of water.

Pollmann said because of the wet fall and winter the NWS is forecasting lake levels to be closer to long-term averages unlike prior years when lake levels were low.

A few people visiting Clarkston's Mill Pond said they don't mind the cold weather and ice on the lakes because it is good for winter activities like ice fishing.

Bill and Kim Whitehead came to Clarkston from Flint to drill holes in the ice and drop a line in hopes of catching dinner. The couple said ice fishing is one activity that makes them enjoy winter.

Paul Winton and his friend also came out to drop a line in the pond.

Winton said it was hard work to drill through the thick ice on the pond. "It's well over two feet thick, and the thickest I've ever seen it in my 25-years of ice fishing," he smiled. "It's worth it because I've been out here fishing before and this pond has large crappy and pike."

Winton said he will clean the fish and donate them to his senior citizen neighbors.

Staff writer covering Independence Township and Clarkston area.
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