Snow, now field runoff, could close beaches

Capital News Service
LANSING — Even after all the snow Michigan received this winter is gone and melted, it could still find a way to adversely impact summer vacations. A new study by the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at the University of Michigan suggests that extreme precipitation is linked to the need for beach closures. Intense precipitation may cause runoff from farm fields and increase bacteria such as E. coli in the water, leading officials to close beaches. The study focuses on 12 Great Lakes cities from May through September in 2000-06: Detroit and Grand Rapids; Buffalo and Rochester in New York; Chicago and Rockford in Illinois; Cleveland and Toledo in Ohio; Erie, Penn.; Gary, Ind.; Milwaukee, Wis.; and Minneapolis. During the period studied, beaches in eight of those cities were closed for 100 days.

Volunteers keep tabs on rain, snow

Capital News Service
LANSING – It has a long name, but the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) makes quick and easy work of measuring precipitation. Rainfall and snowfall have long been difficult to monitor. But that’s less of a problem now, thanks to a simple rain gauge and citizen participation, said Jeff Andresen, the state climatologist and coordinator of the Michigan chapter of the national group known as CoCoRaHS. Anyone can join. The only requirements are a rain gauge and an enthusiasm for the environment, said Andresen, who is also an associate professor of geography at Michigan State University.