Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Winter in Michigan (Polar Vortex, Ice Storm, Freezing Rain)



“In winter, the stars seem to have rekindled their fires, the moon achieves a fuller triumph, and the heavens wear a look of a more exalted simplicity.”


As someone who came from a tropical country, nothing has prepared me for this winter experience. For more than 30 years, I have never experienced snow. The coldest temperature that I probably had was 70F in an air-conditioned room. In normal days, we have about 80-90 degrees. This is just my third winter and this is by far the most extreme in terms of the freezing temperature, destruction, and amount of snow.  


White Lake is one of the tourist attractions in our area and people fish at the other side during winter.
Winter Wonderland in Michigan.
I love snow and I have always been spellbound by the surrounding panorama when huge crystal flakes fall. They are soft, lush and cold to the touch. Where there was once pallid, dead grassland, scenes are transformed with the trees covered with decadent ivory jewels and the ground is coated in a hefty blanket of solid white.    
    
The snow covered lake at Whitehall which glistens like diamonds when the sun shines.
Enjoying the scenery with my husband.

It never failed to amazed me when picturesque sceneries are abundant as the sun shines and the frosty ground glitters like diamonds. The ineffable scent drifted through the air unmistakably speaking of the crisp bluster and ice.

However, the recent polar vortex has proven that beauty could be deceiving. The colossal destruction was unimaginable as the coldest temperature in decades blanketed the state.

Grand River Hotel during the Polar Vortex effect.
Grand River Hotel during the Polar Vortex effect.
Grand River Hotel during the Polar Vortex.
Grand River Hotel during the Polar Vortex.
My husband’s dad was on schedule to have a surgery at the time that the coldest temperature was felt across the nation. We were at the road on the way to the hospital around 4:00 a.m. and the zero-visibility, below freezing temperature, exacerbated by strong winds greeted us. We arrived at the hospital safely and spent hours of watching the city blanketed by the heavy snow.  The drive to the hotel that night after his dad’s surgery continued to be a challenge when we grappled with slippery roads and plunging temperature. My fingers and toes were numb, cold nips at my nose, and my eyes hurt just in a short walk going to the lobby.

The following day, temperature continued to drop and the road on the way home was zero visibility. There were many car accidents and classes and businesses were suspended.

Grand River Hotel during the Polar Vortex.
Grand River Hotel at Grand Rapids where we stayed over night after my father-in-law's surgery.
Grand River Hotel at Grand Rapids during the Polar Vortex.
Grand River Hotel at Grand Rapids during the Polar Vortex.
Grand River Hotel at Grand Rapids during the Polar Vortex.

Grand River Hotel at Grand Rapids during the Polar Vortex.
Grand River Hotel at Grand Rapids during the Polar Vortex.
Grand River Hotel at Grand Rapids during the Polar Vortex.
Grand River Hotel at Grand Rapids during the Polar Vortex.
Grand River Hotel at Grand Rapids during the Polar Vortex.
The polar vortex was not the worst part of this winter, the cold taste (literally) finally hit us during the ice storm. Snow is beautiful and soft to the touch but ice is dangerous and could be fatal especially when you lose power. The power lines that veer down between poles become dense as they were laden with the heaviness of the ice formation. Before long, massive power outages gripped different places in Michigan. We were ones of those who lost the power when two transformers in our area gave in. And the battle to keep the house warm ensued.


Bridge over looking the Lake Michigan at Whitehall.
Ice formation during the ice storm.
Glass window of the hospital.
For some, staying in the hotel during a power outage is a more viable decision. But, it’s more complicated when you are scared of water pipes bursting and little dogs freezing. Thankfully, we have gas stove and the water heater is also run by gas. We had our power back on after almost three days of struggling to survive.


Ice formation during the ice storm.
Ice formation during the the ice storm.
The experience was unforgettable. I have always thought of heavy snow fall as being transported into the winter wonderland and fun at sledding. Winter is absolutely beautiful BUT it can also be destructive. 

Sledding at Double JJ. We don't let the snow stop us from having fun.
Sledding at Double JJ.
One of those days we woke up and the car is covered with several inches of snow.
Shoveling is a must if you don't want to be buried under these thick snow.
“What, I sometimes wonder, would it be like if I lived in a country where winter is a matter of a few chilly days and a few weeks' rain; where the sun is never far away, and the flowers bloom all year long?”
 -Anna Neagle-

61 comments:

  1. Snow was great when I was younger and I used to not mind the cold. Now I have no use for it other than it's nice to look at. I could live tropical all year around and be happy. Beautiful photos you've posted.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! So many people here travel to Florida during winter because they hate the snow. Some of them even have houses there just for winter.

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  2. We had the polar vortex over in Victoria, BC Canada too! I'm originally from Australia, so snow is a huge novelty for me, Had a grand old time :D

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    1. Snow is fine and beautiful as long as they're soft and fluffy. I hate it when they put salt along the road and they turn black and muddy.

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  3. That must have been quite an experience coming from your own country to then experience winters like this. It's been quite extreme this year for you there. I'm in Scotland and we've really had very little snow this year. I'm not really complaining about that!! It's lovely to look at, but I do prefer some warmth. (We don't get much of that either!)

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    1. I am still having fun with it but so many people are just sick and tired of dealing with it every day.

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  4. Sometimes, I think Michigan is in Canada. But I when I found out they share border, I finalized my opinion that Michigan should be ceded to Canada.
    How can people survive in this kind of weather?

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    1. We are just about six hours from Canada so we're definitely so close. lol

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  5. Glad you all survived The Vortex! Didn't hit us quite as hard here in Ellicott City, MD, but we got our fair share of snow, freezing rain, and ice ice baby! This thing seemed to come out of NOWHERE! You all seemed like you were making the most of it, which is all you can really do!

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    1. If you can't beat it then just have fun with it!

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  6. Great to read your experience.And wonderful pics.I love the cold but extreme cold is something I probably would not enjoy too much 😊

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    1. I also hate the extreme cold. I only like snow when it's fluffy.

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  7. Great post about the beauty and the downsides to winter. I live in Toronto, where we are also "enjoying" a pretty harsh winter. I keep reminding myself that it's necessary for abundance in the summer. And it sure it's gorgeous to look at.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much! I know right. Everything is hibernating now so they'll blossom more beautifully in the summer!

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  8. I love snow when I don’t have to go out in it. If I can watch the flakes coming down from inside my warm house, it’s wonderful.

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  9. This has definitely been a crazy winter! I'm from Alberta Canada and we've been getting a much harsher winter than usual (and it's not looking like it will warm up anytime soon )

    It must have been scary dealing with a power outage though in that kind of weather! I give you kudos for that!

    I love your photography to go with this post, it really gives some perspective of the type of weather you're experiencing!

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    1. Thank you! It's definitely extreme this year and I don't even know how we survived the ice storm with no power!

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  10. Michigan is extremely cold and windy during the winter. It's definitely somewhere that the air hurts your face. However, winter does offer some gorgeous views, and I actually miss living where it snows.

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    1. I definitely understand what you mean with the air hurting your face when the wind blows!

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  11. Polar Vortex sounds so armageddon! On the sunny side-- the photos with the ice covering the cranberries is beautiful.

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    Replies
    1. It's funny because we actually call it snowmageddon! lol

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  12. I don't know how you went from a tropical climate to the freezing Midwest! I spent thirty winters in Wisconsin and Minnesota and now I happily live in a tropical climate. I can't handle the cold! Stay warm, stay safe! (And that pic of the frost on the berries is beautiful!)

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    1. Thank you. I love the snow but the wind can be so brutal sometimes.

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  13. This is why I’m a Prepper. I’m perfectly happy staying home in this kind of weather and just waiting it out. Much safer! Snow is absolutely beautiful. I’m a big fan of how quiet yet bright things are. But that beauty is deceptive because it leads to dangerous roads and so much more.

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    1. I know right. I think snow creates this magical scene that in reality could turn deadly!

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  14. I can relate to your views and perceptions about winters and snowfall. Having spent the entire life in warm places, snowy winter just fascinates me. Though I am aware of the downside of it, and I have a very severe doubt that I might not even survive a week in that climate. Your post really depicted how dangerous it could actually be.

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    1. When you're inside the house, it isn't really that bad.

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  15. I love snow too and your pictures here are so beautiful. Snow pictures are the really the best. Looks like you are having fun.

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  16. Oh my gosh! I keep hearing about this Polar Vertex, but being from the South, it didn't really register how extreme this is. Thanks for the first hand account!

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  17. We had a few snow days, but most of it was gone the next day. Lately, we've been experiencing sporadic weather, with some days being extremely cold and other days being unseasonably warm.

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    1. I think we have quite extreme winter this year. It wasn't as bad as last year. We got lots of snow but nothing that was so damaging.

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  18. I grew up in Iowa and 18 years of snow was enough for me. Happy winter from AZ lol

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    1. Haha. I should just ask my husband to move to Arizona!

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  19. I miss Michigan- I never was there during the winter that looks so darn Beautiful... being from Massachusetts I feel as though it’s pretty much the same.

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    1. Yes, it definitely is beautiful! Hope to visit Massachusetts soon!

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  20. You and I already spoke of this. Living as I do in Northern Ontario, we get what you get. It can darn well stop snowing anytime now.

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  21. oh my goodness i cannot believe that you braved and survived the polar vortex! i live in palm springs where it gets down to 50's at night at its worst... and i can't even handle that LOL. then again being born and raised in california, i always dread going east to visit family and friends during this time of year when it's cold. it does look beautiful though. stay warm!

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    1. We can use some California temperature right now!

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  22. Wow, I don't know how you cope with all this snow! We barely get any here in London and the city descends into chaos! The bridge overlooking the lake looks stunning...

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    1. This is nothing compared with the blizzard in the 1970s that my husband told me.

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  23. Surreal. I can't even imagine how its like! Sounds pretty scary but looks beautiful. I am glad you are safe, and making the post out of it.

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    1. My husband and I survived and we don't have any damaged water pipes.

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  24. Yeah. The Midwest was crazy in January and we were not warm at all in NYS! I cannot live in upstate New York let alone Michigan or any of those Midwestern states. I too grew up in the tropics and even though I've lived abroad for 2 decades, I can never get used to the chill.

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    1. Other people have a house in Florida and they stay there during winter.

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  25. We've been pounded by the Polar Vortex here in MO, but definitely have not seen that much snow! I'm so ready for spring!!

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    1. I'm fine with snow as long as it doesn't get so windy!

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  26. Wow - such a lot of snow. I have been in Sweden and we had a fair amount this year, but the polar vortex brought so much snow to Michigan. I really like the photos you included in the blog, particularly 'Bridge over looking the Lake Michigan at Whitehall' the colours are wonderful :)

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  27. This year has been especially bad for snow. I'm from Canada. but am living in NZ. My mom keeps sending me photos of the backyard with snow as high as the tables in yours! I'm so glad to be skipping the polar vortex, even though we currently have a crazy heat wave!

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    1. WoW! I saw that they got it worst in Canada!

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  28. It really looks like a winter wonderland! It reminds me of Lorelei's love of snow in Gilmore Girls, and it also makes me miss the winters when I was a child, as it used to snow a lot in my city. I don't think I have ever experienced a Polar Vortex, but I would like to observe it sometime. (Maybe from a cabin, sipping a hot cocoa :)

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    1. We have another ice storm so I hope it doesn't get so bad out!

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  29. That looks really cold! I used to live in Switzerland but we never had snow that deep in and around Geneva. I think that I will avoid the Polar Vortex and stay away during winter. It;s just too cold for me.:-)

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  30. Your pictures are insanely beautiful. It must be so cold during Polar Vortex. I somehow find it difficult to tolerate cold weather maybe because I live in a city where the minimum temperature ranges from 4 to 5 degree Celsius. I would prefer to visit Michigan in autumn or summer than in winter :)

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  31. I would love to explore Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoeing in Michigan but from your post it looks like Michigan is extremely cold and windy during the winter. I enjoyed the beautiful snow images though.

    Richa Ingle Deo

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  32. Winter in Michigan looks amazing. I loved the frozen lakes and how the sunshine over it makes it look like a diamond surface. Everything is so peaceful and relaxing. Snowy regions are my favorite. Wonderful pictures.

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  33. First and foremost, your photos are really stunning. Anyway, having been raised and born in a tropical country, experiencing winter has always been my dream. I wish to experience the winter in Michigan if I get the chance soon. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

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  34. Snow is beautiful to look atand photograph plus kids love having the day off school and playing in it. Otherwise, it's a nuisance in so many ways and disrupts so much that I could, frankly, be quite content without it.

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