Friday, 17 June 2016

Winter Weather Can Turn Enjoyment Into Tragedy

Winter Weather Can Turn Bad

Winter Weather Can Turn Enjoyment Into Tragedy
Heavy snow, extreme cold, ice, and wind routinely affect Michigan during winter and pose dangers to life and property. Michigan residents, however, must remember that it does not take record-breaking low temperatures or mountains of snow to make winter in Michigan dangerous. Abrupt weather changes during winter can turn enjoyment of the season into tragedy.

Storms during the winter of 2014/15 created millions of dollars of damage, closed roads and schools, caused power outages and even death. Despite the very warm temperatures, numerous snowfall records were also set, including the all time seasonal snowfall total at the National Weather Service office in Marquette, which now stands at 319.8 inches.

Between December 23 and 31, 2014, as much as 70.2 inches of snow fell in Grandville, and 60.2 inches of snow fell in Bloomingdale. The National Weather Service Forecast Office in Grand Rapids measured 50.6 inches of snow for the week. These snowfall totals were all time record weekly totals, shattering all previous records. Petoskey broke its two and three day snowfall records with 44 and 60 inches, respectively. State assistance was sent to Emmet and Charlevoix counties to help open up roads.

Two Day Snowfall

Winter Weather Can Turn Enjoyment Into TragedyTraverse City tied its two-day snowfall record of 20.5 inches. Berrien and Cass counties also received heavy lake effect snows during this week. Twenty to 30 inches of new snowfall was reported in numerous locations in the Upper Peninsula. The heaviest cumulative weekly snowfall occurred along and just west of the US-131 corridor, where general snowfall amounts of two to four feet were common, with locally higher amounts. 

Numerous communities closer to Lake Michigan recorded one to two feet of snow for the week. Overall, it was one of the most remarkable and long duration lake effect snow events in the history of recorded weather across western Lower Michigan. The snow caused numerous traffic accidents, airport delays, and inconveniences to travelers.

Wind Storms in winter

An unusual late-winter wind storm occurred March 9 and 10 when a strong cold front raced through most of Michigan as a powerful low pressure center spun through Lake Superior. During the overnight of March 8, freezing rain, sleet and rain developed across much of the Upper Peninsula. Significant ice accumulations of up to three quarters of an inch were reported. Blizzard and High Wind Warnings were posted.

Winter Weather Can Turn Enjoyment Into Tragedy
Across the state, rain changed to snow. The strong winds and falling and blowing snow produced near blizzard conditions across a significant portion of the state. 

The high winds and low visibility forced numerous roads, highways and interstates to close and shelters were opened to accommodate travelers who did not heed the early warnings. Strong winds caused damage to homes and businesses throughout southern Michigan. 

Damage Costs

The damage was estimated at nearly $1 million. Two injuries were reported during the windstorm. One person was hit by flying glass from a window that was blown out. Another person was inside their car when a tree fell on top of it. 

If residents have to go outside during severe winter weather, they should wear loose-fitting, light-weight clothing in layers. Outer garments should be tightly 2woven and water repellent, and they should wear a wool hat and mittens. It is important to avoid overexertion, such as shoveling heavy snow, pushing a car or walking in deep snow. Sweating from those activities could lead to wind chill and hypothermia.

Extra precautions in bad weather

During the winter, motorists should take extra precautions on the roads. First, motorists should clear ice and snow from windows, mirror, hoods, roofs, headlights, taillights and trucks. 

Drivers should slow down when the visibility and road conditions are bad. Remember, if you have anti-lock brakes, you should apply steady pressure, never pump the brakes.