THE NEFF ZONE -- BY JIM NEFF
CADILLAC NEWS -- OCTOBER 1, 2022
One thing that's interesting about the news is that some topics stand the test of time. On occasion, something that has been reappears as something that is now. Old news has a habit of becoming new news.
What brought this to mind is the hot summer experienced by much of the country and the hurricane Ian. This would qualify as new, but in reality nothing should surprise us.
A news report, “Clairvoyant 2012 climate report warned of extreme weather,” is a case in point. Climate scientists predicted: 'Record high temperatures bake the planet more often. devastating floods, increasing destruction from hurricanes, and drought and famine worsen across the globe. Wild weather worldwide is getting stronger and more frequent, resulting in unprecedented extremes.'
Just for the United States the prediction was on the money. “The number of weather disasters that cost at least $1 billion in damage — adjusted for inflation — went from an average of 8.4 a year in the decade before the report was issued to 14.3 a year after the report came out, with more than a trillion dollars in U.S. weather damage in just the billion-dollar extremes.” (https://thenationaldesk.com/news/americas-weather-now/clairvoyant-2012-climate-report-warned-of-extreme-weather)
We've always been interested in what's ahead in our weather. Something that's been around since the early 1800s always catches our attention. Predictions from almanacs are fun to consider.
For this coming winter, the Farmers' Almanac thinks our neck of the woods is in for some big time cold. “Shivery temperatures are predicted...but the real shivers might send people in the Great Lakes areas hibernating. The North Central States are forecast to experience extremely cold temperatures, (possibly 40° below zero!) especially during mid-January.” (https://www.farmersalmanac.com/farmers-almanac-releases-an-extreme-winter-forecast-for-2022-23?)
Not to be outdone, the Old Farmer's Almanac concurs. “Winter will be colder than normal, with the coldest temperatures in early December and late January to mid-February. Both precipitation and snowfall will be above normal. The snowiest periods will be in late November to early December and early to mid-January.” (https://www.almanac.com/winter-extended-forecast-farmers-almanac)
Something that's not a prediction but is actually observable this time of year is the migration of birds headed south. “According to data from the website BirdCast, 228 million birds are predicted to be in flight overnight across the U.S. as part of fall migration. (https://www.mlive.com/news/2022/09/228-million-birds-on-the-move-across-us-tonight-as-fall-migration-peaks.html)
You can watch this migration in real time on some really cool interactive maps that are updated every six hours. “BirdCast uses weather surveillance radar to track seasonal bird migrations, producing migration forecast maps as well as real-time analysis maps that show the intensities of actual nocturnal bird migration.” Go to: https://birdcast.info/.
A migration headed in the opposite direction (north) is something we don't want to happen. Unfortunately, it looks like our area is a target for an invasion of stink bugs. “A foul-smelling, voracious, wide-spread pest could become even more ubiquitous with climate change. A recent modeling study found that changing weather could increase suitable habitat for the brown marmorated stink bug in the United States by seventy percent. There is likely to be a northward shift in stink bug-friendly conditions. Regions that may be particularly affected include the Mid-Atlantic, areas surrounding the Great Lakes.”
Take a look at the stink bug migration map at: https://phys.org/news/2022-09-invasive-bug-habitat-greatly-climate.html. You'll immediately notice that the Traverse City area is a prime stink bug target.
Stink bugs may be new news for our region, but an insect we've always had are ants. Have you ever wondered how many ants are on the planet? “Research conservatively estimates our planet harbors about 20 quadrillion ants. That’s 20 thousand million millions, or in numerical form, 20,000,000,000,000,000 (20 with 15 zeroes). We further estimate the world’s ants collectively constitute about 12 million tons of dry carbon. This exceeds the mass of all the world’s wild birds and wild mammals combined. It’s also equal to about one-fifth of the total weight of humans.” (https://theconversation.com/earth-harbours-20-000-000-000-000-000-ants-and-they-weigh-more-than-wild-birds-and-mammals-combined-190831)
Where do all those ants go in the winter? Scientists say that most live in colonies deep underground. While those little guys prepare to hunker down, those of us above ground may be finishing up our yard work and preparing our surrounding for the coming winter. One landscaping website offers some time-tested advice.
“Slowly cutting your grass shorter will allow the lawn to winter well without the shock of being cut all off at once. The proper cutting technique requires that you do not take off more than one-third of the grass blade during a single mowing. People refer to this as the one-third rule. The ideal height is around 2.5 inches. Cut it too low and the grass might not be long enough to photosynthesize and provide nutrients to the roots. Too high and the frost might become matted after a snowfall.” (https://aalawns.com/tips-on-how-to-best-cut-your-grass-before-winter-to-be-ready-for-next-spring/)
Taking color tours is traditional in Michigan. However, if you're looking for something new and unique in this autumn a stroll high above the trees could be the ticket. “SkyBridge Michigan is the world’s longest timber-towered suspension bridge.” Located at Boyne Mountain, it features 'panoramic views of the Boyne Valley.' The bridge will open on October 15.
How big is this thing? “It’s 1,200 feet long, more than the length of three football fields. At its highest point, SkyBridge is about 120 feet off the ground. The walkway is about 5 feet wide. The bridge is anchored by two huge timber towers, each weighing about 40,000 pounds. It is grounded in one million pounds of concrete. A 36-foot span of see-through glass flooring is located in the middle of the bridge.” (https://www.boynemountain.com/skybridge-michigan)
Finally, it's old news that every ten years the exact center of the United States is calculated. The center of America has been in Missouri since 1980. Previously the center was located in Plato, Mo. (https://apnews.com/article/united-states-census-2020-missouri-us-bureau-225b1e112c67b2470b5d1e2c946f4851)
What is new is that we now have an updated spot – Hartville, Missouri. It's a pretty cool honor for the tiny town with a population of 594. “The local school, a nursing home, and the gas station are the largest employers.” Now Hartville has a tourism attraction.
Jim Neff is a local columnist. Read Neff Zone columns online at CadillacNews.com and NeffZone.com/cadillacnews.