GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Plow crews and power companies are already preparing for the winter storm, which is forecasted to bring heavy snow with windy conditions at the end of the week.
The Kent County Road Commission has 90 trucks in the fleet that will be working during the storm, according to Director of Operations Jerry Byrne.
“The biggest thing we’re doing right now is making sure the equipment is all fixed from the last two significant storms. We’re getting supplies in, we’re getting sand in, we’re getting salt,” Byrne said. “It’s really kind of restock from last weekend.”
The concern is less about the amount of snow but how long it will fall and the challenges it will pose for everyone who needs to be on the road.
Mechanics have been working on trucks across the region performing maintenance.
Nick Schirripa, a spokesperson for MDOT’s Southwest region said they have 78 trucks that will serve the area.
“Anytime the temperature gets below 16, 15-16 degrees, it really limits our use of salt our ability to use salt, salt’s effectiveness. So that kind of adds another layer of challenge to it,” Schirripa said.
While the primary roads are always the focus, the Kent County Road Commission said some work on secondary road may be needed.
“Our goals will kind of switch as we go through the weekend. If we get drifting and we feel that people truly can’t get out of their homes or their residence, we’re gonna one-pass through areas. But know that three hours later, with a 40 mph wind, it could be plugged right back shut. So we’re going to be balancing the event as it goes. Every storm is unique,” Byrne said.
Consumers Energy also has crews getting ready to respond to any potential power outages, according to spokesperson Josh Paciorek.
“Consumers Energy is ready for this winter storm that we’re seeing develop later this week. We’ve been preparing for the last several days getting our teams prepared,” Paciorek said.
Paciorek said they are bracing for the potential for long hours over the holiday weekend.
“We’re seeing the weather forecast just like everybody else. Folks are calling this a potential historic storm,” Paciorek said.
Any potential outages would take time to fix and weather conditions will play a role in how quickly that can be finished.
“It’s not really the snow. Even though we’re supposed to get heavy amounts of snow. It’s the wind gusts that we’re concerned about — 55 (mph), some forecasts have wind gust up into 60s. At that speed, those wind gusts can cause a lot of damage. We’re really looking at a large area of our service territory across the lower peninsula that could be impacted, so we’re pre-staging crews,” Paciorek said.
Employees are preparing to work long hours throughout the holiday.
“They’ll be working 16 hour shifts to restore power. They’re gonna be working through the holidays. They’re gonna be working through the nights to try to get the power back on for any customer that might be impacted by this weather system,” Paciorek said.
Consumers is working on plans to call in additional crews from other states if needed but are aware of the challenges that may bring for a widespread storm.
“It’s gonna cover a large area of the Great Lakes region. It’s not just Michigan that’s going to be impacted. It’s gonna be our friends to the south in Indiana and Ohio and our friends to the east in Pennsylvania,” Paciorek said.
The company is asking customers to prepare for potential outages that could last.
“Outages could go into the weekend and it’s not lost on us, especially with the holidays, how frustrating and how disruptive that could be,” Paciorek said.