GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Drivers heading out on the roads Friday will run into hazardous driving conditions due to heavy snowfall across West Michigan.
CRASHES ON WEST MICHIGAN HIGHWAYS
The Michigan Department of Transportation said both directions of US-131 are closed near Dorr. The northbound lanes are closed at 142nd Avenue while the southbound lanes are closed at 100th Street SW.
Drivers are advised to avoid the area and seek an alternative route as authorities work to clear the scene after a concrete mixer semi-truck crashed and rolled over. There were no reports of injuries, according to Michigan State Police.
In Kalamazoo County, MSP said there was a 10-car pileup on southbound US-131 near Portage. Two semi-trucks, a box truck and seven cars were involved. There were no reports of injuries, according to MSP.
State police reminded drivers to take it slow.
In Alamo Township, just north of Kalamazoo, over 20 cars piled up in a crash that also damaged an MSP cruiser. No serious injuries were reported, MSP said.
MSP said there were traffic jams on eastbound I-94 in Van Buren County due to multiple crashes. There were also whiteout conditions and slow-moving traffic in both directions of I-94 near Kalamazoo and Mattawan, with several crashes. However, there were no serious injuries reported, according to MSP.
HEAVY SNOWFALL CREATES HAZARDOUS DRIVING CONDITIONS
The Kent County Road Commission said crews took over at 4 a.m. Friday to address continuing snowfall, making “good progress throughout the state and primary county roads.” It notes that the issue of snow continuing to fall has made it difficult for crews to move back into local roads and neighborhoods.
According to the National Weather Service, there will be two significant challenges on the roads during the winter storm. First, drivers may experience sudden changes in snow intensity, traction and speed. Second, it will take drivers longer to stop due to warm pavement melting snow and cold air freezing it into ice.
“The issue is some of the roads are clear and bare that are wet, and a mile down the road, they’re snow-covered and slippery. So it’s that you need to slow down and pay attention to those quickly changing conditions,” said Jerry Byrne with the Kent County Road Commission.
NWS issued a Winter Weather Warning for most of West Michigan until 7 a.m. Sunday with snow totals ranging from 6 to 14 inches.
KCRC reminds drivers not to crowd snowplows, to maintain a safe distance and not to pass a snowplow on the right.
Byrne said 90 crews were out on the road around 4 p.m. Friday, putting down de-icing chemicals.
“Slow down and have patience. The crews are doing the best they can. When it snows as hard as it does, we can’t put enough chemical down and we’re not going to try to continue to melt it off. It dilutes too quick and it refreezes so we’re going to scrape off that excess and we’re going to do the best we can,” Byrne said.
Those who venture out are reminded to turn on their headlights, clear all snow and ice from their vehicles and use caution. In addition, drivers should make sure to have an extra flashlight, food, and water in their car in case of an emergency.
Drivers can track the progress of the MDOT snowplows from the safety of home before hitting the road. Some plows are also equipped with cameras, allowing travelers to see the streets as they are cleared. The map is visible on the Mi Drive website.
Several West Michigan school districts, including Grand Rapids Public Schools and Kalamazoo Public Schools, announced they will be closed on Friday. Check the closings and delays page to see if your school is closed.
The wintry weather could impact flights at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport. Passengers can check real-time flight information online before heading to the airport.