Road conditions poor as lake-effect snow moves across W. MI


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Drivers can expect slippery road conditions and reduced visibility due to blowing snow as a winter storm moves through West Michigan.

There have been intermittent closures on West Michigan highways all day Friday as authorities dealt with crashes, though there have so far not been any reports of serious injuries or deaths.

The National Weather Service issued a Winter Weather Advisory for most of West Michigan until 7 p.m. Friday. A Winter Storm Warning was issued for Allegan, Kent, Muskegon, Newaygo and Ottawa counties until 7 p.m. Friday. The area is expected to get up to 4 to 8 inches of snow, wind gusts as high as 40 mph and wind chills only around zero Friday.

Those who venture out are reminded to turn on their headlights, clear all snow and ice from their vehicles and use caution.

As temperatures drop, salt is less effective at melting snow. In Kent County, the road commission has mixed sand with salt to help add traction.

“These temperatures are dropping and (roads) are very slippery and won’t really significantly improve, in fact, will probably deteriorate as the lake-effect comes in,” said Jerry Byrne, director of operations at the Kent County Road Commission, Friday morning.   

Officials are warning that roads could be slick for several days.

“That snow pack potentially could be on the road for the next seven to 10 days where we’re looking at single digit temperatures. We’re not going to put salt down to melt in those temperatures. Folks need to be prepared that its going to be snow pack for a little while,” said Byrne.

In Kent County, crews treated state roads overnight and high-traffic county roads early Friday morning. Due to the continuing snowy and windy conditions, treated roads will again be snow-covered and icy. Crews will return to those high-traffic roads throughout the day, KCRC said in a news release Friday.

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Not long after the snow kicked up Thursday afternoon, three semi-trucks jackknifed on I-94 near Mattawan, causing a traffic mess and shutting down the highway.

Video from a passerby showed one semi longways across the lanes and another most of the way into the ditch, and that several other cars and semis had driven into the median to avoid slamming into the trucks.

There were no reports of injuries.

A little later, an articulated Laker Line bus jackknifed at Lake Michigan Drive and Kinney Avenue in Walker, police said. Westbound Lake Michigan was backed up as police waited on a heavy wrecker to get the bus straightened out.

Thursday night, a semi-truck overturned on US-131 near West Main Street in Kalamazoo. One northbound lane closed in the area. Crews said they would be cleaning debris for several hours.

Mid-morning Friday, a semi-truck slid into the median along westbound I-96 at 28th Street near Grand Rapids. The left lane was blocked while the truck got back on the road.

Follow the Michigan Department Of Transportation on Twitter for the latest closures in Southwest and West Michigan.

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 visitors to see the roads as they are cleared. The map is visible on the Mi Drive website.

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.

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