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Posted on Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 5:30 a.m.

Ann Arbor area sees 6 inches of snow; blizzard alert downgraded to winter weather advisory

By Amalie Nash

Ann Arbor area residents are waking to more than 6 inches of snow on the ground this morning, but Tuesday's blizzard warning has been downgraded to a winter weather advisory.

That advisory is in effect until noon. And meteorologists say we could see one final punch from this storm, with another 1-2 inches of snow possible later this morning.

But overall, the much-warned-about winter storm wasn't as bad as predicted in this area, said Marc Breckenridge, Washtenaw County's director of emergency operations.


Motorists brave the streets of Ypsilanti on Tuesday evening.

Melanie Maxwell |

"It was better than the forecast called for, glad to say," Breckenridge said at 5 a.m. "Our part of Metro Detroit did pretty well, but they were hit harder further north."

In Washtenaw County, snowfall totals weren't as high as expected because the snow turned to sleet in the early morning hours, which reduces the accumulation on the ground, said Phil Kurimski, a senior meteorologist with the National Weather Service's White Lake Township office.

The blizzard warning was bumped down to a winter weather warning early this morning, and before 8 a.m. had become an advisory.

Across Metro Detroit, most areas saw 4-6 inches of snow, Kurimski said. Tecumseh was on the high end with 7 inches, while Port Huron and Flint reported blizzard-like conditions due to high winds.

High winds are the main danger for today, Breckenridge said. The strongest wind gusts overnight were just under 40 mph, and the wind has been 15-20 mph for much of the night in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, Breckenridge said.


Eastern Washtenaw County was in the range of 4-5 inches of snow, while most of western Washtenaw County saw 6-6.5 inches, Breckenridge said.

At 5 a.m., the end of the storm system was still near Chicago, and meteorologists were watching it to see if it would impact Southeast Michigan.

"A lot of the heavy stuff has ended, and right now there's a break in action," Kurimski said at 4:45 a.m. "There's a chance for more snow and sleet and freezing rain."

Washtenaw County dispatchers had a mostly quiet night as motorists heeded advice to stay off the roads, Breckenridge said.

"We saw very, very few traffic-related problems, and dispatch reported a normal or even light volume of emergency calls," Breckenridge said.

Limited power outages were reported. The Dexter area saw some scattered outages overnight, with most restored by 5 a.m., Breckenridge said. Another outage affected the northeast Ann Arbor and Ann Arbor Township area, and less than 1,000 customers remained without power at 5 a.m.

Kurimski said the weather service received several reports of thunder during the storm, which saw 1-2 inches of snow falling per hour during its height.

Although the storm wasn't as bad as expected, authorities still advised people to stay home if possible. The blowing snow is likely to make roads hazardous.

Many local residents can easily heed that advice — all schools are closed, along with many businesses, Eastern Michigan University and Washtenaw Community College. The University of Michigan is open today, and officials there said students and staff should make every reasonable effort to get to campus, while using good judgment about the risks of travel.

The Ann Arbor Transportation Authority said all buses are running this morning, except the EMU shuttle (route 33). But riders should expect delays as the morning progresses, officials said.

"There's a lot of blowing snow, and it will be easier to get roads maintained and serviced without traffic," Breckenridge said.

Reach Amalie Nash at



Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 8 p.m.

It seems winter storms are never as bad as they're predicted to be. Still. Stay off the roads, and enjoy your snow day. (If you have the luxury of having one.)

Tom Teague

Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 6:21 p.m.

So the weather has become something else to divide us and get us to question each other's motives, sensibilities and resolve? How depressing. As for my Tuesday: Like the good former Boy Scout I am, I located all my emergency gear, made sure the batteries worked, double checked the soup supply and was awfully glad when I could handle the snow on the sidewalk this morning with just 25 minutes of shoveling instead of an hour or more. By the way, I feel the same way about the oxygen masks, emergency exits, and life jackets on airplanes -- I take a moment to locate them and am a happy man when I de-plane without having to use them.


Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 6:47 p.m.

Tom, It's always a joy to hear from you....the voice of reason.

Ann English

Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 6:03 p.m.

I don't know about any particular grocery store staying open, but Greenback Dollar Store closed early, before 6 o'clock. I didn't see others at ALDI buying junk food, but healthy food, and when it started snowing early, that motivated me to run instead of walk to the grocery store entrances, from a more distant parking space than usual, due to the presence of more shoppers than usual, so I got some exercise out of it. It looks like meteorologists were right about the amount of moisture ready to come down, but the band went north of where it was expected. Genessee and Macomb Counties got the amount of snow we were "supposed" to get. I can just imagine their forecasters telling them what Sunday's state maps showed, 1" to 3" of snow for their area, and then they got hit with 9" or more. I don't recall our reporters ever underestimating the amount of snow we get for one day, but only underestimating overnight lows in the winter, say 25 degrees but it actually drops to 18 degrees.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 5:59 p.m.

Thanks for the link, Ed. I did not realize (though perhaps I should have intuited it) that amount of snow also depended on air temperature at the altitude where the snow is formed--just another variable that can make snowfall amount vary wildly. Good Night and Good Luck

Edward Vielmetti

Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 5:26 p.m.

As Edward R Murrow's Ghost notes, 1&quot; of water to 10&quot; of snow is the normal. However, that ratio varies considerably. Here's a post with a nice graph of how much it can vary: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> &quot;Note that the peak of the graph is between -12 degrees Celsius and -18 degrees Celsius. Not coincidentally, this is the region of the most rapid dendrite snow crystal growth (also known as the &quot;dendritic growth zone&quot;). Remember that big, fluffy dendrites tend to make deeper snow for a given water content. Therefore it's no coincidence that the temperatures that coincide with the highest snow ratios are also the temperatures where dendrite growth is the strongest.&quot; When you read the weather reports written by meteorologists for other meteorologists, you'll often see commentary about the presence or absence of these dendrite structures. More fun snowflake photos at <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> (aka <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> )

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 5:17 p.m.

OK, all you nattering nabobs of negativism. Let's understand the difficulty in predicting snowfall. The standard equation is 1&quot; of rainfall = 10&quot; of snow. Watch this summer when big storms hit the area and see the wild disparities in rainfall amounts from place to place. It is impossible to predict accurately how much rain will fall--there are just too many variable that affect rainfall amounts. TAnd differences from place to place seldom are noticeable aside from, in extreme cases, some localized flooding. But the same difference in winter means huge differences in snowfall--and there is no predictive model that will predict accurately how much precipitation will fall on any one spot, whether summer rain or winter snow. So get over yourselves. We had plenty of warning that a bad winter storm was coming and those warnings gave us the chance to prepare for it. Better to be prepared for a storm that was not as severe as predicted than not to be ready for a storm that was more severe than predicted. Good Night and Good Luck


Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 4:30 p.m.

As a life-long Michigander (and Ann Arborite) I find the media hysteria laughable, although I am grateful the office closed today. However, as a kid I don't ever remember schools announcing closings the night before. I remember waiting until the morning to decide whether to close or stay open, and even then 6&quot; of snow wasn't enough to stay home. As a society, I think today we are too motivated by fear.


Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 6:26 p.m.

Townie I am not sure when you were &quot;a kid&quot;, but now almost every parent is working outside of the home. This necessitates finding some childcare or calling the boss to ask for family time....regardless some major adjustments. It seems to me it's a matter of being considerate to parents. I would imagine it's a headache!


Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 3:39 p.m.

I remember the '78 blizzard too. We lived in a house with a half-mile-long driveway next to a line of trees. Itr drifted over so high and hard (we could walk on them and not break through) that we couldn't get a car through there for days. My husband had to walk down to where he was parked at the main road to go to work, leaving me and my four little ones (the baby was 5 months old) He managed to bring food home in his bag. And we were out of power. For us, it was a grand adventure! I don't remember whether this blizzard was correctly forecast. Last night and the last three days of warning! warning! warning! was ridiculous. I always take today's forecasts with a grain of salt. I'll believe it when I see it. I admit I was kind of hoping it would be real this time, but all the same I'm glad I live in a complex that plows our streets and parking lots!

Anthony Clark

Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 3:21 p.m.

Tru2Blu76, I couldn't agree with you more. I work in retail and see what you describe every winter. Of course, if we are late or can't make it in at all, we get disciplined even if a snow emergency has been declared. There are always customers there even in the worst weather imaginable. Did you really need that bag of chips and half gallon of ice cream?


Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 3:11 p.m.

Hoarding and snowstorms are good for the economy. Now, all of that beef jerky that had been sitting on the shelves for years will have to be restocked. New portable generators will be manufactured. Lots of independent contractors with their pickup trucks and plows will be put to work. Stores stay open in response to demand, not to cause hype and fear. Store managers certainly aren't weather forecasters. What do you think they are supposed to do when they hear a big storm is coming? Ignore it because they somehow know better, or it is all media hype?


Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 2:45 p.m.

Yesterday I made the comment below and people actually jumped on me for being a &quot;crumudgeon&quot;. A day later we can evaluate whether this was hype or not.....6 inches. SIX INCHES! And we closed everything, hoarded food and soaked up &quot;breaking weather bulletins&quot; like we'd die if we didn't. Lemmings! No wonder we seem so soft these days. We can't handle anything without making a titanic deal of it. ************************** What a lot of absurd hype! I don't want to say, &quot;I recall back when.....&quot; but I recall back when the blizzard of 1978 hit and the Ann Arbor News delivered my papers to the appointed drop zone on schedule. I had to deliver my paper route in waist-high snow. It took me about 5 hours. We had one day off from school. It was memorable because there were NEVER snow days back then. Now, someone smells a little snow coming and people start hoarding food, everything in sight closes down (before a single flake falls) and the media feeds the hype by running around like Chicken Little because the end is near. Totally ridiculous! When did we all become such wimps??


Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 2:37 p.m.

@KJMClark .... agreed. I would rather be &quot;prepared&quot; for 12 inches and be surprised when it is far less. And no, I'm not one of those who runs out to stock up on batteries, bottled water and canned food at the first mention of &quot;disaster&quot;. But once again, I count my blessings and am glad I live in SE Michigan. We have had it easy compared to places on the east coast and Chicago.


Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 2:07 p.m.

Do we have real forecaster in weather department or just speculators? This is the only job I think you still get paid even if you are dead wrong! So, much hype and so much out of the range. They borught the whole govt. down with this! Wow!

Calendar Girl

Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 4:31 p.m.

Snehal, there are several thousand jobs you get paid even if you are dead wrong, one of the most obvious is &quot;journalists&quot; as shown by all the panic they provided for this &quot;storm.&quot; Other examples are policemen (false arrests), lawyers (lose their cases), doctors (misdiagnose), politicians (need I say anything here) and so many more. I have a family member that is a meteorogist for the state and he told me all day it wasn't going to be as bad as all the media suggested. It just goes to show that you have to consider your sources when it comes to information. A meterologist trumps Ann, or ANY news outlet, in my book.


Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 2:41 p.m.

It is always interesting to read the Forecast Discussion on the National Weather website. Last evening they downgraded the prediction for our area only, because they could see a change...the dry slot forming right in the center of the storm. When predicting nature, it's a crap shoot! :-) It does look like their 7&quot; prediction will be met before the day ends.


Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 1:56 p.m.

Whenever we make plans Mother Nature laughs at us. 1. Weather forecasters try to guess what Mother Nature will do. Mother Nature laughs and put a dry slot into the mix, sends the low a few miles north, to make them look wrong. 2. General public complains when the forecasters &quot;get it wrong&quot; claiming they exaggerate. headlines storm &quot;not as bad as expected&quot; Mother Nature laughs and turns on her snow machine again. I wonder if the message might be that human beings aren't as smart as they THINK they are. ...even in Ann Arbor.

Bertha Venation

Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 1:48 p.m.

After clearing four driveways after work last night, I was pleasantly surprised driving to work this morning that the main roads were already cleared. Let's see what this evening brings.


Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 1:37 p.m.

the sky is falling ,the sky is falling.The whole six and 11 pm newscasts on tv were devoted to the storm of the century.They love when they dont have to do any work to get the news to you.Just show Egypt and overblow the storm


Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 1:34 p.m.

Snowpocalpyse, eh? Meanwhile, it's just another snow storm for every city outside Southeast Michigan. As usual, the west side of the state has all the fun with 10+ inches of snow. Can we lose the hype, please? Over the last three days, forecasters continued to increase the possible snow total for Ann Arbor; then, hours before the storm hits, they drop it down again. But last I checked the prediction was still between 7-15 inches. That's a huge range. But you still overestimated. Save the &quot;snowpocalypse&quot; talk for a time when your forecasts are reliable.


Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 1:34 p.m.

Somebody please tell me the last time the local meteorologists have been right on a big snow fall? All these businesses and services that closed down based on a prediction. We are becoming a very weak society. These types of snowfalls happen on a very regular bases around Michigan do they shut down as a way of life? They deal with it and move on.


Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 1:25 p.m.

If you want to see how bad this storm could have been, check out the coverage at the Chicago Tribune: 17 inches of snow and still falling, 60mph winds, complete white-outs, lightning strong enough to make it look like daylight, people trapped in their cars overnight on Lakeshore Drive. They're currently under a blizzard warning, a wind-chill watch, and a lakeshore flood warning. But you know, this storm was no big deal, right? I think it's hilarious when people put down meteorologists for not being able to precisely predict what a storm covering half the continental US will do. Personally, I'd rather just be grateful that we weren't the ones who got clobbered this time.


Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 3:43 p.m.

Uh yeah, that was the Chicago forecast which was spot on. Anyone watching the radar yesterday mid afternoon for 5 min would have seen we were going to just get glanced by it.

Steve Bean

Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 3:30 p.m.

We're fortunate that we have electricity. Single digit temps overnight without a furnace and moving frig and freezer contents outside for a day or more would make for beyond-hype conditions.


Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 2:33 p.m.

Are you the one that cleared the beef jerky off the shelves in Meijers?


Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 1:21 p.m.

Like the old saying &quot;Size matters&quot; and 6 inches is that much after all of the hype!

David Cahill

Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 1:17 p.m.

Lucy and the football again! When will we learn?


Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 1:16 p.m.

Get real who really wants the GOVERNMENT to dictate store hours ,Ben are you ok ? Sounds like Al Frankenstein !


Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 1:09 p.m.

There were many bold headlines since sunday in about this &quot;storm&quot;, including articles mentioning disaster supply kits; beef jerky, etc. If nothing else, it was all entertaining, but as they say, &quot;fool me once shame on you....&quot;.


Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 12:29 p.m.

I wish that I could be as innacurate in my job as weather forecasters are. My current rule is to take the lower estimate of snow and multiply it by .75, and that is usually pretty close to the actual amount of snow that we get. I had a hockey game last night, so I was driving home at about 11pm. I saw a couple of plows out, but I saw little evidence of a blade having touched pavement. The roads weren't that bad, but the blowing snow reduced visibility significantly.


Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 1:23 p.m.

&quot;I saw little evidence of a blade having touched pavement. The roads weren't that bad, but the blowing snow reduced visibility significantly.&quot; I think the last sentence explains why you didn't see evidence of blades touching pavement. Wind doesn't just reduce visibility. It blows snow right back over a plowed road.


Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 12:24 p.m.

I see all the weather &quot;postcasters&quot; are at it. Turns out that is a much easier job. .


Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 12:09 p.m.

Lets call this entire media event Boondoggle Snowpocalypse 2011! Glad the media feared everyone into consuming, gas, plastic water and stockpiling junk food. At the worst this storm may have produced a half day of issues on the roads. The storm we got was a zero. Fear 1 - Humans 0


Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 2:32 p.m.

We were getting sleet here and now it's turned back to snow. (Superior Township area) Roads bad. I'm glad there is not much traffic with all of the closures...will definitely assist the road commission.


Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 1:23 p.m.

Cash - I've been out. The Ann Arbor road crews did a great job clearing the main roads. There are a few snow covered spots on some of the streets, but for the most part people are driving cautiously and getting around town. It's Michigan! We get snow! Andy is right.


Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 12:24 p.m.

Haven't been out yet have you Andy?


Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 12:01 p.m.

I would like to know where the city plows are. I saw three together one time in the hours I was out and no more, plus the city's snow plowing status page is not being updated as it should be during this snow event. Would you please find out from the city why this is the case?


Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 11:55 a.m.

We're in the eye of the storm now but there's more snow arriving from the west. But we lucked out being in the dry slot for a few hours while all around us was getting pounded! Showing the freeways on tv news early this morning and you really can't even tell where the roads are. The wind/drifting is making cleanup almost impossible. Citizen Cash wants to thank every single enterprise that closed today to allow the plows to do their work. Your unselfish decision for your workers and for the general public good.... will make it better for all of us tomorrow.


Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 2:11 p.m.

DDOT, If you don't like my posts you can choose to ignore them...we have that option now. That method makes posters look a bit more....polite.


Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 1:37 p.m.

You're still hyping it, aren't you? Your overworked declarations yesterday weren't enough?


Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 11:41 a.m.

This isn't a complaint, just an observation: Nature is still too subtle and unpredictable, even with weather satellites and weather radar and computer modeling (which is quite good overall). Every climatologist and meteorologist involved predicted this was going to be an exceptionally bad snow storm. Our area: just happened to be one of those which dodged the worst, so it's deceptive to the public eye. While it's a positive that people react with delight at such storms (better than being fearful or depressed - by far!), it's still provokes frivolity in the face of real danger and real stresses on those less able to cope. Grocery chains in particular encourage this frivolity by staying open beyond times of posted warnings. As reported: most sales consisted of non-essentials like beer and party foods, etc. This burdened the supply chain, encouraged travel under dangerous conditions and exposed some employees to unnecessary risk in addition to a lot more than normal amounts of work. Our road crews, emergency services and medical staffs deserve the merit badges they earn. Grocery and party stores deserve no merit badges for their false opportunism and encouraging bad behavior. If we expect real emergency management, then closing such businesses during declared emergencies should be part of the mandatory requirements. This is where government can do its job of protecting us all - even from clueless business managers.


Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 1:19 p.m.

&quot;This is where government can do its job of protecting us all - even from clueless business managers.&quot; Weather is unpredictable, even with the latest technology. How is it that a manager is to be held 'clueless' in this situation? We got six inches of snow in the State of Michigan. How is that an emergency wothy of shutting everything down? It snows in Michigan! It snows every year! It's the media that spent the last 3-5 days scaring everyone into believing that the end of the world was coming. Don't accuse managers, supervisors, or businesses for forcing someone to go out and buy a six-pack of beer.

Silly Sally

Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 12:14 p.m.

Wow, the grocery police, who cares what items people buy and if a store stays open. While I bought milk last Monday, I do not feel exploited by retail stores and do not consider it &quot;bad behavior&quot; if some happened to have extended hours. I fail to see how this &quot;burdened the supply chain&quot; more than if people had bought salt, shovels, and food. If someone felt better if they bought beer, Its not my business. I brew my own. Grocery stores did not contribute to &quot;fear&quot; or panic, rather, by staying open, in the future, people will be less inclined to rush out all at once to stock up prior to a closing. Tru2Blu76 has got it wrong.


Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 11:32 a.m.

There would have been a lot more snow depth if it hadn't changed to sleet for a while. Driving is still ugly out there.


Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 11:30 a.m.

Three days of media hyped panic for 4-6 inches of snow and cold. Off to work I go. Drive safely out there.

5c0++ H4d13y

Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 11:29 a.m.

Only 6 inches? The city can call the plows back in.


Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 11:28 a.m.

I'm glad it wasn't as bad as predicted. I reckon I'll slide on into work.


Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 11:14 a.m.

Just got done snowblowing, not that bad at all. Wind is a factor though.


Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 11:11 a.m.

Better to be safe than sorry, I suppose. The &quot;Snowpocalypse&quot; panic was laughable, though. What lucky people to have had work prematurely canceled yesterday, though. Enjoy your day off - meanwhile, I'm trudging off to my job.


Wed, Feb 2, 2011 : 11:24 a.m.

You might not think it so laughable once you've driven in it. Many side streets, especially any with inclines, are almost impassible without a high clearance vehicle and/or four wheel drive. Other than a few main roads and those attended by private contractors, no streets have been plowed. And why isn't the City of Ann Arbor currently maintaining the plow status page?