Taking an interesting look at numbers

Let me begin this morning with the number nine.

No, this isn’t a print version of Sesame Street. I ask you ponder the number nine for a moment as it is very significant in all our daily lives right now.

Nine is the number of daylight minutes we’ve gained since Dec. 21 — the winter solstice — and thus, the shortest period of daylight of the year. Since that point, day by day, we’ve been gaining a little more daylight. As of mid-week, according to the National Weather Service out of Gaylord, the region already had gained back nine extra minutes of daylight. I think all of us are excited to know that fact.

While on the subject of the National Weather Service and numbers, they supply an interesting daily snowfall update in graph form at its website of major communities across northern Michigan.

Alpena, for instance, as of Friday normally would have experienced 30.7 inches of snow by now toward its seasonal average of 84.3 inches. In actuality Alpena has received 28.8 inches. The city with the most snow so far this year is Gaylord, which has experienced 78.8 inches, well ahead of the 62.9 inches it normally would be at.

And, just in case you’re wondering, the record snowfall in Alpena occurred in the winter of 1970-71, when we received 166.3 inches.

How did 2016 finish, weather wise, according to the NWS officials?

Alpena experienced the second warmest year on record. The record high in Alpena occurred on Aug. 10, when the temperature reached 97. That was the highest temperature recorded across all of northern Michigan last year. The coldest day in Alpena last year was -13, which occurred Feb. 13.

The final number related to weather this morning is three. That is the number of Great Lakes boats that sought shelter in Thunder Bay Wednesday afternoon and evening to elude the gale force winds the region experienced. Wind gusts of 30 mph were experienced at various times that day, with sustained wind speeds of 18 mph occurring during that period.

According to boatnerd.com, the John J. Boland, CSL Assinboine and Manitowoc all laid up in Thunder Bay to ride out the weather and more specifically, the wind. As of Thursday morning two of the three were still in the bay.

While on the subject of transportation and numbers, how about the number 10,000? Faithful readers of the newspaper will readily understand that is the “magic” number of enplanements needed at small airports over a 12-month period to attain a $1 million subsidy from the Federal Aviation Administration.

While Alpena County Regional Airport finished the year at 8,713 enplanements, obviously that was 1,287 passengers short of the needed number. However, a federal law passed last year will provide airport officials a loophole that allows them to go back to 2012, when enplanements topped the 12,000 mark, to adjust figures for 2016 that will gain the local airport the $1 million subsidy.

And, the numbers reveal there is reason for optimism moving forward. In December there were 704 enplanements compared to 662 the year before. In fact, the airport experienced a strong fourth quarter with numbers according to Airport Manager Steve Smigelski.

“It has went up three months in a row and that is good news and things look very promising,” Smigelski said. “I would be concerned if there was a good month and then things tapered off, but that is not the case right now” he said in a Thursday news story.

Aren’t numbers interesting?

Bill Speer can be reached via email at bspeer@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 354-3111 ext. 331. Follow Bill on Twitter @billspeer13. Read his blog, More BS (Bill Speer) at www.thealpenanews.com.