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Wow! What a Winter!

IMG_1850IMG_1836At Thoms Bros., we have been plowing snow for over 23 seasons.  We have seen all kinds of winters.  In those 23 seasons, we have seen three of the top 20 least snowy seasons of all time.  The 1997/1998 season was the 15th least snowiest at 23.4”.  The 1999/2000 season was the 16th least snowiest at 23.7”.  And, the 2003/2004 was the 18th least snowiest at 24.1”.  On the other end, we have worked in six of the top 20 snowiest seasons of all time:

  • 2002/2003 is the 15th at 60.9”
  • 2004/2005 is the 11th at 63.8”
  • 2008/2009 is the 10th at 65.7”
  • 2010/2011 is the 6th at 69.1”
  • 2007/2008 is the 5th at 71.7”
  • 2013/2014 is current the 2nd at 90.7”

We are currently only 1.9 inches short of the all time record of 93.6” set during the winter of 1880-1881.  The metro area, however, has set a new record when it comes to snow cover with 77 consecutive days of snow of 1 inch or more.  The old record was 73 days set in the winter of 1958.  With this 90.7” of snow this season, we plowed out our clients almost 20 times.  An average number of plows over the last 23 seasons is nine.  We also salted our jobs close to 30 times.  On many of our sites, we complete ran out of room to push snow.  We had to either load and haul snow, or blow snow with our industrial snow blower. 

This current winter season – even though it is officially Spring now, we are still not out of the woods from getting snow – not only brought tons of snow, but C—O—L—D! 

  • Detroit’s average winter temperature this season (20.9) marked the coldest winter since 1977-78 and the eighth coldest all-time (18.8 in 1903-04 is the coldest).
  • Detroit’s 13 days of below-zero temperatures this winter are the most days below-zero since there were 15 during the 1983-84 season. The current mark ties for seventh all-time; the record is 21 below-zero days during the 1884-85 season. The average below-zero days in a season for Metro Detroit is 3.6.
  • Detroit’s 76 days of 32 degrees or lower (below freezing) are the most below freezing days for the region since 78 during the 1977-78 season. The current mark is tied for fourth all-time. The record for below freezing days in the region is 86 during the 1880-81 season. The average number of days freezing or below freezing for the region is 49.

March 21 is officially the first day of Spring, but when will Spring actually get here?  Doesn’t look like anytime soon.  The ten day forecast has only three days of normal or slightly above normal temperatures.  The remaining seven days are below and even greatly below average.  Are average snowfall for April is 1.7” and the snowiest April of all time was set back in 1886 at 25.7”.  We’ll quit if that happens……..Not really but we won’t like it!

It is hard to believe that just two short years ago we had the all time warmest March.   On March 22, 2012, an unprecedented spring heat wave, and quite possibly the most anomalous weather event in over 130 years of record-keeping in Michigan, came to a close. The high temperature of 86 was the warmest March temperature ever in Detroit, beating by two degrees the record of 84 degrees set the day before.  Altogether, SE Michigan shattered all significant records for March warmth. Detroit set 6 records in 8 days, including tying or breaking the monthly record twice.  The heat wave also included 10 consecutive days (March 14-23) of 70 degrees or higher in Detroit. This has never happened in March. In fact, it has never even happened in April. The closest competition is a span of 9 days late in the month of April over 125 years ago, in 1886.

Now we are not wishing for a record breaking heat wave in March or even April.  That year did significant damage to plants with the early budding than an April frost. But we do wish for average temperatures.  Our average start date for the Spring is the first week of April.  My guess would be this year will not be average.  See you out in the landscapes once we can.

Less Than a Week Away

Less Than a Week Away

The 2013 APLD International Design Conference – Detroit, MI

For over two years now, I have been chairing the Local Site Committee for The Association of Professional Landscape Designer’s annual conference to be held at the GM RenCen on August 2 – 5, 2013.   It has been a lot of work, but we are in the home stretch with less than a week away.  Many of my close friends and colleagues have wondered why I would take on such a large commitment.  It also has been very difficult getting APLD-Michigan members to buy into and volunteer.  Even though I have spent a lot of time on this event, probably neglected my family and business a little as a result, it was definitely still worth it.  Being the chair was not about the time and effort I put into the conference, but about the leadership skills, positive attitude and business relations that I developed.

It is one thing to lead your kids who usually love you and need you.  And then there is leading a company.  Motivating employees can be difficult, but they need you and the pay you provide to support their family.  Your leadership skills are really tested when you are asking volunteers to take time away from family, work and leisure time.  I definitely have not been Gandhi during these past few years, but I have learned.  I can look back and see my mistakes and how I will change my action in the future.

I have always dealt with confidence and negative attitude issues throughout my life.  But from the initial possibility of Detroit as a location, through the bankruptcy and mayor news, and until now the last push to complete the small tasks, I have always kept a “Can Do” attitude.  I would definitely like to thank Mildred Hurley, the LSC Tour Captain, for helping me out in this.  She radiates with positivity! Especially about Detroit, Southeast Michigan and our State.  Funny thing because she is originally from North Carolina still carrying the Southern draw after over 20 years of relocation.

During this process, I have met and learned so much by the people I have met.  Of course, this group includes my fellow local site committee members, Ellen Johnston (International Program Chair), and Jennifer Cramer (APLD Staff), but also includes designers of the tour gardens, speakers, and other people involved with the conference.  As the program chair, I get to ask questions and see things that most people would not have access to.  Speaking of exclusive access, the LSC is getting a private tour on top of the largest green roof in the WORLD!  The conference garden tours will take us to the Ford Rouge Plant in Dearborn, but attendees will only see the 10.4 acres of green roof from an observation deck.  Discovering this contact has gotten me and the LSC this exciting opportunity to be right in the heart of this amazing sustainable site.

To learn more, please visit www.apld.org.  Stay tuned for exciting pictures and descriptions of the exciting gardens in my next blog.

Steven D. Thoms,  APLD, CGIP, CLP

APLD-Michigan President and Founding Member

2013 International Design Conference LSC Chair

 

Thoms Bros. Introduces Ledge Falls

As an extension of our StoneMakers product line, Thoms Bros. introduces LedgeFalls.  LedgeFalls has patent pending formulas, products and product systems that are unlike anything available on the market today. This is the next generation of water features.  Thoms Bros. can install “Resort Like” water features in yards, next to pools, and in commerical settings at a very fair price. The cost of installing the system in a very short time frame along with the final look provides exceptional value to the customer. Have you seen the grottos and spectacular waterfalls at resorts?  Creating a backyard oasis will bring joy to your family and wow your family, friends and neighbors.   The LedgeFalls system is lightweight. Water features can be placed alongside a swimming pool and eliminate the worry of putting tons and tons of stone to create a dramatic swimming pool waterfall.  The composite panels can be colored to match the natural color of any stone or rock.  The light weight also allows for an overhang of up to four feet.