Hot, hot, hot

July 19, 2019 | CO2 412.93 ppm <<

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Heat wave hits Detroit, much of Midwest and eastern Great Plains

A short but intense period of high heat and humidity is settling over much of the country, with temperatures in the mid-90s to over a hundred degrees. Just as dangerous as the day-time heat is the fact that temperatures in many places are not expected to drop much overnight.

The heat index in metro Detroit is expected to hit 109 degrees on Friday. The New York Times has this explainer on what exactly this number means. Cooling centers across the area will be open, with the City of Detroit keeping air-conditioned facilities open at libraries and recreation centers.

It’s especially important to check on the elderly, sick or disabled and those without air-conditioning during these heat events. The National Weather Service has various safety tips for dealing with heatwaves, which historically have caused more deaths than any other weather-related disaster. This has been especially true in cities like Detroit where the urban heat island effect makes it hard for residents to cool off overnight.

The extreme heat can also combine with pollution to create ground-level ozone that can affect those who suffer from lung disease, asthma or other conditions. The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy issues alerts for ozone action days during these periods, advising those in the affected areas to limit their time outside.

Michigan Radio offers some advice for how to survive the weekend temperatures without running up your electric bill. Consumers Energy spokesman Brian Wheeler suggests that 78 degrees is a good setting to keep the house comfortable without running using unnecessary energy. DTE Energy, vice president of distribution operations Ryan Stowe predicts customers will use more energy on Friday and Saturday than at any point in its history.

With a wave of thunderstorms in the forecast, Stowe said there will “no doubt” be some outages. He said the company has around 3,000 workers ready to mobilize in case of outages–there are usually only a few hundred.

All this comes against the backdrop of reports that this July could be the hottest month ever recorded, following on the hottest June ever recorded.

The environment desk at The Guardian is also reporting that with the climate crisis, the number of very hot days in the US could more than double in many places, with Wayne County going from an average of 1 day a year that feels like 100 degrees or hotter to 16 a year by mid-century.

Bridge Magazine has its own report on temperature predictions, showing what Michigan counties could face with different scenarios for climate action.

To see how hot your town could become, use this tool from the Union of Concerned Scientists to search by city or county.

Lake Erie likely to see another cyanobacteria bloom 

The wet spring has scientists predicting another sizable cyanobacteria bloom in western Lake Erie. Cyanobacteria are the photosynthetic bacteria–also called “blue-green algae”–that feed off nitrogen and phosphorous, which often come from agricultural runoff. These were the organisms that caused the city of Toledo to shut off its drinking water supply in 2014.

Michigan Radio reports that this year:

will probably not be as bad as 2011 and 2015, when the blooms covered a large area of western Lake Erie. The forecast is for a 7.5 severity level.  That compares to the 10.5 severity level in 2015, which set a record. 

Still, the persistence of this problem has many saying changes need to be made in the way farms apply fertilizer in order to prevent future blooms. Check out this explainer video to understand the root of the problem and why Toledoans voted to give Lake Erie its own Bill of Rights.

Mystery oil blob appears in Troy

In news of the weird, but also very scary, a Troy family has been forced to leave their home after they found oil bubbling up from the storm-sewer connection in their basement. The Rende family have been forced to move into a trailer, saying the fumes have been making them sick and caused their 12 year-old son to have seizures.

The Detroit Free Press reports that the property has “a history of oily underground pollution that vexed the previous owner”. But the family believed this had been cleaned up by the time they moved into the house in 2008.

The family's pollution predicament is no shock to the experts. The Rende home on leafy Shallowdale Drive is one of as many as 4,000 similar sites around Michigan where toxic fumes may be seeping into buildings and basements from underground contamination, state officials have said. 

The sites range from those where chemicals for degreasing or dry cleaning were once used to locations of long-closed gas stations, built atop underground fuel tanks that now are leaking residues. In the more disturbing cases, environmental evils hidden underground were surreptitiously buried by environmental vandals, officials said.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family while officials from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy evaluate what can be done about the situation.

See: Insta-photo pick

This one from @detroitloco_ pretty much sums where Planet Detroit is at this week.

Connect | Engage with Detroit’s environment

Have an opportunity you’d like to see featured here? Let us know.

July 20 | Native bee walk & talk | Detroit >>>

July 20 | Art Opening, This Must Be the Place | Detroit >>>

July 23 | Detroit Riverfront Past, Present & Future Walking Tour | Detroit Riverfront >>>

July 23 | Meadows of the Arboretum | Royal Oak Arboretum >>>

July 24 | Learn about invasive species management | Detroit >>>

July 25 | A Talk with Anna Clark, Author, The Poisoned City | Wyandotte >>>

July 27 | Mushroom Walk | Royal Oak >>>

August 1 | Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision Garden Party Happy Hour | Detroit >>>

August 4 | Rouge Park Annual Butterfly Walk | Detroit >>>

August 8 | Gardens of Detroit Bus Tour | Detroit >>>

August 10 | Beekeeping Basics | Detroit >>>

August 17 | Butterflies and Young Birders | Davisburg >>>

August 24| Joe Louis Greenway Tour & Fundraiser | Detroit >>>

August 28 | Urban agriculture bike tour | Detroit >>>

September 7 | Native Plant Sale, North Oakland Headwaters Land Conservancy | Clarkston >>>

September 8 | Make Food Not Waste | Eastern Market >>>

September 10 | The 13th Annual Garden Party on Belle Isle | Belle Isle >>>

September 12 | Crafts on the Clinton | Yates Cider Mill >>>

Thanks for reading!

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