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Posted on Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 11:10 a.m.

Almost 7 inches of snow blankets Ann Arbor area following first big winter storm

By Kyle Feldscher


Midway during Wednesday's snowfall, as a total of 6.9 inches fell near the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor.

Melanie Maxwell |

Ann Arbor looked like a snow globe when all the flakes settle Thursday morning after almost seven inches of the powdery white stuff fell on the city during the first major snowstorm of winter.

Dennis Kahlbaum, meteorologist at the University of Michigan, said 6.9 inches of snow fell on the university’s North Campus and exactly six inches fell in southeast Ann Arbor.

The sounds of shovels and snow blowers blasting away at the thick white blanket on sidewalks and driveways echoed around the city for the first time in months on Thursday morning.

As idyllic as the city looked during and after the storm, the situation on Washtenaw County’s roads was far less ideal. Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Geoffrey Fox said more than 160 crashes took place from 1 p.m. Wednesday, when the storm started, to 9:30 a.m. Thursday.

“This is probably at least four to five times more than a normal day with normal roads and normal weather,” Fox said.

Many of the crashes were minor and didn’t involve injuries, Fox said. It wasn’t unusual to see cars perpendicular to the road on the sides of area freeways.

Fox said the problem in many of the crashes on county roads Wednesday and Thursday was drivers following other cars too closely. Speed wasn’t a problem in most crashes, he said.

“They’re cognizant of how fast they’re going, but they’re not cognizant of giving themselves enough time to stop,” Fox said.

Joyce Williams, spokeswoman for Huron Valley Ambulance, said ambulances were sent on 97 calls for service in Washtenaw County from 1 p.m. Wednesday to 9 a.m. Thursday. Just four people had to be transported to local hospitals, Williams said.

Ann Arbor might not be totally out of the woods yet. According to forecasts from Weather Underground, the city could receive up to one inch of snow Friday as well.

While drivers had a tough time coping with the snow on the roads during the storm, the Washtenaw County Road Commission cleared most of the major roads and was getting to the secondary roads as of 10:30 a.m. Thursday.

Jim Harmon, director of operations for the road commission, said the day shift reported at 4 a.m. Thursday, allowing the major roads in the county to be cleared for the morning rush hour. He said crews are working on the secondary roads and subdivisions now.

“Some district crews are getting to the secondary roads and into subdivisions and into the unpaved road system,” he said. “That work continues.”

Road commission crews have been working around the clock since Wednesday to try and clear the roads. Harmon said Wednesday the night shift started at 8 p.m. Wednesday and went until 4 a.m. Thursday, when the day shift took over.

While the major roads are mostly at bare pavement this morning, Harmon said the plan is to have crews return to them before the evening rush hour.

“We may have to return to major roads to clear slush that comes onto the roads,” he said.

Kyle Feldscher covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.



Fri, Dec 28, 2012 : 3:55 p.m.

It would be helpful if someone explained exactly how the snowfall is measured. Our house is about six miles from A2 and we have, at best, about 2" of snow on the ground...


Sat, Dec 29, 2012 : 12:59 a.m.

Metro Airport is the one from I gather makes the final determination on how snow goes on record. Might take a gander out that way.

Kyle Mattson

Fri, Dec 28, 2012 : 5:03 p.m.

This should answer your question Plubius:


Fri, Dec 28, 2012 : 4:01 a.m.

Forget winter, on 36 days until Bill's hot dog stand opens.

Honest Abe

Fri, Dec 28, 2012 : 1:34 a.m.

Good to see some snow!


Fri, Dec 28, 2012 : 1:17 a.m.

In addition to last year's record cold and snow fall around the United States and the world, the human controlled global weather hustlers where once again infuriated by the WHITE CHRISTMAS that descended on Michigan. Many could be seen in their front yards kicking the snow, waiving their arms wildly and cursing Al Gore. They promised to regroup in the spring and come back complaining about melting snow and flowers blooming as well as summer's "planet melting heatwave" defined as any summer day above 70.


Fri, Dec 28, 2012 : 2:36 a.m.

Even a 4th grader can tell you the difference between the temperature outside your window, and climate.


Fri, Dec 28, 2012 : 2:02 a.m.

I don't think global warming is considered a partisan issue anymore. It's almost 2013, keep up.


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 11:57 p.m.

All the snow plows do is make the side streets icy. Covington is a sheet of ice. Thanks Ann Arbor!


Sat, Dec 29, 2012 : 12:58 a.m.

I wonder if you are that lady who waves at all the cars passing by wishing for speed humps that really do not work. Should check out ours that is just a joke. Glad I am not there on your street skating on Covington.

Ann English

Fri, Dec 28, 2012 : 1:23 a.m.

I wonder how level Covington is. Manchester Street is. I've begun wondering today what condition Glenwood, Overridge and Arlington are in. Both Glenwood and Arlington slope down towards Washtenaw, so if they're icy, I'd rather go UP them than DOWN them. If a snow plower DOES make St. Francis icy, he'll hear from parents if any children enrolled there get hurt while inside a car that slides out of control, into the intersection with East Stadium. But if the snowplowers work on St. Francis Drive's shoulders ( or those of any other street), they are making sure that the street does NOT get icy.


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 10:10 p.m.

...And, in typical fashion, life is awful for Ann Arbor's pedestrians. Sidewalk shoveling laws are rarely enforced. You leapfrog from property to property - some shoveled, others just trampled. When you cross the streets, it's time to find that one outlet that allows you to avoid the 6 inches of black slush pushed up against the sides.


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 11:57 p.m.

@SonnyDog09 - onerous for many senior citizens and others lacking a sure gait and good balance. A City ordinance requires residential sidewalks receiving 1" or more of snowfall to be cleared within 24 hours. Scofflaws can be reported to 794-6942.


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 11:30 p.m.

Since when did walking in snow become so onerous? When you walk in the winter, you will walk in snow and slush.

Superior Twp voter

Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 9:36 p.m.

Must be global cooling at work here now.


Fri, Dec 28, 2012 : 3:04 p.m.

Again, climate. Look it up.


Fri, Dec 28, 2012 : 3:33 a.m.

I am old enough to remember when the same scientists were predicting that another ice age was on the way..... that was way back in the 1970s.


Fri, Dec 28, 2012 : 2:34 a.m.

Never mind overwhelming evidence and consensus of 99.9 percent of scientists (except those that work for the petroleum industry). If Al Gore told some Conservatives to not jump off that cliff, they'd all go running right over the cliff.


Fri, Dec 28, 2012 : 12:57 a.m.

Another Rush Limbaugh intellectual


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 9:13 p.m.

If you are one of the roughly 20% of the people who haven't cleared their sidewalk yet, what are you waiting for?


Sat, Dec 29, 2012 : 12:56 a.m.

I love it. On the moon shoveling space dust. How cool is that? Ours was done at 6am. We were done first. Got to watch the other loonies out in that cold.


Fri, Dec 28, 2012 : 12:49 a.m.

Yes, I have heard of Christmas and you are responsible for clearing your sidewalk even if you are on the moon. The people walking by your unshoveled house can't tell the difference.


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 11:49 p.m.

@fjord - perhaps you've never heard of "responsibility." You are responsible for clearing your sidewalk or having it cleared at your expense. There is no free pass due to traveling whether for Christmas or some other reason.


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 11:47 p.m.

If you are 900 miles away and have nothing better to do then post on here that's pretty sad!


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 10:30 p.m.

I can't shovel my sidewalk from 900 miles away. Not everyone's home right now. Perhaps you've heard of "Christmas"?


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 9:07 p.m.

"160 crashes took place from 1 p.m. Wednesday, when the storm started, to 9:30 a.m. Thursday.. This is probably at least four to five times more than a normal day with normal roads and normal weather," Fox said. 30 to 40 crashes per normal day in Washtenaw County?. Okay lady. Put the cell phone down. Now. Yes, that's it. You can do it. Just let it go. You too dude. Easy. Easy does it. That's right. Ohh. Ef.f Eff. Just turn it off. ...Thanks for the weather update Kyle... Back to our regularly scheduled program "Climate Change - Could It Ever Happen To Ann Arbor And Does Anyone Really Care?"


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 8:14 p.m.

The way the snow was falling late yesterday afternoon and into last night I think a lot of us would have had a hard time keeping our short driveways cleared with a snow thrower. For everyone who complains about snow removal, why don't you consider moving to Florida or California. You won't have snow, just hurricanes and earthquakes.


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 9:48 p.m.

That is a stupid comment. That's like saying, if you don't like the UM football coach, move to Ohio. Or, if you don't like the city government, move to Texas. All residents have a right to voice opinions about anything, including bad snow removal. By the way, if you don't like the comments, move to another forum.


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 9:24 p.m.

Or just move to "name any other midwest city" that has comparable yearly snowfall, but knows how to deal with it.

Homeland Conspiracy

Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 7:32 p.m.

I saw a plow truck today off Liberty. But by then the sun had come out so there was NO snow on the road at all, yet there he was plowing the shoulder of the road, @ how much per hr? I just don't understand I really don't.


Fri, Dec 28, 2012 : 1 a.m.

WCRC is looking for part time drivers, go apply and show them how it is done.

Basic Bob

Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 8:36 p.m.

They plow the shoulders so the water drains away from the pavement instead of puddling and refreezing tonight. It saves a lot of vehicle and road damage. But it does seem strange to see them go back over the shoulders again and again before hitting the subs. I don't think they even consider plowing the subs for 3 days, just waiting to see how much it packs down.


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 7:13 p.m.

"Fox said the problem in many of the crashes on county roads Wednesday and Thursday was drivers following other cars too closely. Speed wasn't a problem in most crashes, he said. "They're cognizant of how fast they're going, but they're not cognizant of giving themselves enough time to stop," Fox said." This sure says it all! Anybody with the least amount of common sense realizes getting moving isn't the problem with today's front/all/four wheel drive vehicles. Stopping is the issue. Even last night driving eastbound down I-94 I had an SUV glued to my rear bumper even with the passing lane available for them to pass. When it turned 3 lanes after US-23 I moved over to the far left (couldn't differentiate lanes due to the I-94 being nothing but tracks through snow) they proceeded to then go by me, just to glue themselves onto someone else's bumper ahead of me. I wish I still had an old full size beater-mobile like I had in high school. I'd teach them the the hard way what happens when tailgating in the snow (or any weather for that matter).

Ann English

Fri, Dec 28, 2012 : 1:08 a.m.

Before you corrected yourself about 'the far left lane,' I thought you meant that you were going to get off I-94 and get onto Michigan Avenue or Ecorse Road.


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 11:44 p.m.

Go ALL Wheel drive was sliding last night and I was creeping along. Don't lump all drivers into your clueless group.


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 10:10 p.m.

Don't you know? They have ALL WHEEL DRIVE! They are invincible!


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 7:14 p.m.

Oops, I meant far right lane in that statement as opposed to far left passing lane.


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 7:02 p.m.

I think the road crews got lulled into a false sense of confidence from our previous mild Winter. From the condition even the major roadways were in even at around 10pm last night it's like they forgot how to handle 6 inches of snow. Also, we had significantly less traffic due to many people being off work for the holidays. Seems inexcusable compared to our other years with normal or record snow fall. What if it had been over a foot of snow and a non-holiday workweek Wednesday?


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 9:45 p.m.

I agree. Last night it was as if no plowing had occurred on major roadways, in spite of snow falling all afternoon and evening. Where were the crews?


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 5:38 p.m.

More Snow!!! I love driving with no bikers!!!!


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 5:33 p.m.

All wheel drive means you can go as fast as you want during a snow storm.


Sat, Dec 29, 2012 : 12:54 a.m.

All wheel drive and ABS. Cool. It was a fun nite wasn't it?


Fri, Dec 28, 2012 : 1:19 a.m.

If you have all wheel drive, you have a duty to drive 20-30mph faster then traffic - even on residential streets. What good is it otherwise!?


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 7:01 p.m.

Too bad you can't stop as fast as you want!


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 4:57 p.m.

I went out to play hockey last night. The roads weren't too bad. The all wheel drive handled it nicely. I did see a couple of plows out working on the roads 'round midnight when I was heading home. But, for the most part, the roads had not been touched by then. The biggest shock of the night was the knucklehead bicyclist riding down Packard going the wrong way shortly after 8pm. I understand that the sidewalks had not been shoveled, yet, but that is no excuse to be riding a bike on a snow covered road going the wrong way. Of course, I am probably a bad person for honking my horn at him.

Ann English

Fri, Dec 28, 2012 : 1:01 a.m.

So you and the bicyclist were headed for a head-on collision! Now that I understand what he was doing, it's easy to put a motorist's mentality into him and say that he drifted into the lane with oncoming traffic. Your story has a much happier ending than that of the three Salem Township residents who died in a head-on collision Christmas Day due to a 31-old Livonia woman who left her lane for the one with oncoming traffic. Wherever you were driving when you encountered this bicyclist, there was no reason for you to BACK UP for him, like I backed DOWNHILL for an oncoming motorist coming down a steep hill today with only one lane snow-bare. There was a vehicle in the ditch on both sides of the road. The motorist was farther down the hill than I was up it, so I backed down the hill for her.


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 11:53 p.m.

There he was, riding down the middle of my lane. I got the impression that the bicyclist did, in fact, believe that he owned the road and that it was my responsibility and obligation to get out of his way.


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 9:22 p.m.

In Ann Arbor I think you are supposed to stop, put on your four-way flashers, and then wave the bicyclist safely past your vehicle if it is snowing. Ummm. If you believe that then how would you like a nice highrise rental starting at only $1399?


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 5:21 p.m.

Bicycle riders should have to pay just like vehicular traffic for the privilege to ride on the public roads. New roads seem to have to have "bike paths" on them - let the bike riders pay for them.


Thu, Dec 27, 2012 : 5 p.m.

Riding against traffic, at least you can see who's coming and dive outta the way if they start swerving.