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Thursday, January 2,2014

’And I grew up in Kansas’

After the ice storm, WLNS meteorologist Jake Dunne rethinks where they rank among natural disasters

by Andy Balaskovitz
WLNS-TV meteorologist Jake Dunne is not being hyperbolic when he says the ice storm has caused him to rethink aspects of his career.

“I’ve been doing this for 15 years,” he said in an interview Thursday, pointing out jobs in the South where he dealt with category three or four hurricanes. “While hurricanes and tornadoes make all the headlines, I’m starting to rethink where ice storms rank on that list, given the amount of damage. The pictures are unbelievable. The domino affect of homes that didn’t have any heat source all down the line — I’m starting to rethink where ice storms fit on that list.”

Dunne and his family lost power for five days at their Windsor Township home. Another enduring memory?

“For me, it was just the community banding together. The hope that I was offered — from immediate people that never met me, to people in the hotel that let us in, to neighbors who brought stuff over — just the sacrifice in difficult times,” he said.

The band of heavy precipitation that came in from the southwest was paired with a layer of warm air in the atmosphere and below-freezing temperatures at the surface. That spanned from Kalamazoo to Lansing to greater Flint, “give or take 25 miles,” Dunne said. Farther south, the surface temperatures were warmer, creat ing rain.

“If we were 2 degrees warmer in Lansing at the surface, none of this would have happened,” he said. “We would have been wet and brown on Sunday morning.” Dunne Moreover, he said the affected areas — where roughly 300,000 people lost power — are relatively small considering the size of the state.

“Just think if this was 100 miles wider,” he said. “That’s not much. Then we’re talking maybe a million people without power.”

Such storms are rare, he said, and more devastating than wintertime blizzards.

“This is the worst weather disaster I’ve personally been through,” he said. “And I grew up in Kansas.”

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