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Posted on Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 5:51 a.m.

Winter storm dumps 8-9 inches of snow across southeast Michigan; schools closed today

By Amalie Nash

022011_NEWS_SNow Storm_MRM_01.jpg

Brenda Quiet of Ann Arbor clears snow off her car after running errands at the Oak Valley Shopping Centre in Pittsfield Township on Sunday afternoon.

Melanie Maxwell |

The winter storm wreaking havoc on area roadways this morning dumped 8 to 9 inches of snow and a layer of freezing rain across southeast Michigan.

Washtenaw County wasn't hit too hard with freezing rain — just a lot of snow, meteorologists said. No local school districts are open today, and Eastern Michigan University called off classes for today.

The bulk of the snow fell before midnight, and the storm has now moved through, meteorologists said. A winter storm warning was set to expire at 7 a.m. today.

By midnight, 8 inches of snow had fallen in Ypsilanti, according to weather observers. In Ann Arbor, 9.6 inches had fallen by 7:30 a.m., while Manchester only saw 4.6 inches of snow.

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A steady snow fell in Ann Arbor Sunday afternoon, making driving difficult.

Melanie Maxwell |

Meteorologist Steven Freitag of the National Weather Service's White Lake Township office said the region generally saw 8 to 9 inches of snow. The weather service didn't get reports of ice accumulation in Washtenaw or Wayne counties — but ice was posing problems in Lenawee and Monroe counties, he said.

"The storm was pretty uniform across the entire area, with areas north of I-94 seeing heavy snow and those south of I-94 seeing freezing rain," Freitag said.

The Washtenaw County Road Commission had its full fleet of crews out all night working to clear the primary roads, officials said. The efforts are continuing this morning, but those who live on secondary roads and in subdivisions may not see a snow plow for a day or two, officials said.

Michigan State Police Trooper Joseph Brodur of the Ypsilanti post said police were extremely busy with crashes all afternoon and evening, up until traffic died down at 1-2 a.m. He said road crews got the highways pretty well cleared by this morning, so anyone commuting by expressway shouldn't run into problems — but motorists should be careful on the entrance and exit ramps.

"It was nonstop from the time it started snowing," he said. "We had 30 calls pending at some points. It was almost all runoff crashes were people went off the road and didn't have much damage, but needed a wrecker."

Brodur said he didn't see much freezing rain while he was out patrolling, and no serious crashes were reported.

In Ann Arbor, city officials said a four-truck crew is assigned to major roads and likely will remain there all day. Local snow plowing began at 6 a.m. on Tuesday’s solid waste routes.

The current complement of equipment includes 13 dump trucks, two pick-up trucks and a loader assigned to local plowing. City officials say the plan is to focus on clearing roads, with cul-de-sacs and dead ends following on Tuesday.

Most Washtenaw County school districts were already off today due to mid-winter breaks or the President's Day holiday. The only two districts that were expected to have classes — Ypsilanti and Milan — declared a snow day for today.

Other closures include:

  • CHS Group
  • Clonlara
  • Community Day Care
  • Early College Alliance at EMU
  • Michigan Islamic Academy
  • Milan Children's Nursery
  • Perry Nursery of AnnArbor
  • South Arbor Academy
  • Summers-Knoll School
  • Washtenaw Community College has canceled classes that start before noon today

Freitag said the region could see a touch of light snow this afternoon, but no accumulation is expected. Residents can spend Tuesday and Wednesday digging out, with sunshine and low temperatures predicted, before another winter storm is possible Thursday into Friday, Freitag said.

Check for an updated forecast and more on's weather page.


Gajah Duduk

Tue, Feb 22, 2011 : 2:44 p.m.

I concur that there must be a good investigative report on the city's handling of this last snow plowing, and of community anger at the cheapskate policies of the city in providing essential municipal services generally. It's absurd that for a city with such a high tax rate, that the city cannot efficiently perform essential public services like plow the roads overnight and clear leaves from the curb. It's high time to organize around this. Anyone want to volunteer to set up a web forum specifically related to poor Ann Arbor public services? If not I'm tempted. In the meantime, a good investigative report is really needed here that goes beyond (re-)stating official polices or linking to maps. (thought no doubt that's useful, that's not a story.)

Ann English

Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 11:41 p.m.

Brad, You're right about the downtown being plowed. I was able to go up the steep Fourth Avenue slope from Summit Street just fine this morning, and none of us on Fourth, Madison, Hill or State Street lost traction with the roads. Lon, I don't know what time you saw a police car heading north towards the Dexter Avenue intersection, but I didn't have any trouble there about 4:45 PM. Perhaps it got salted after you went by.

Lon Horwedel

Tue, Feb 22, 2011 : 2:38 a.m.

... or after the officer called in and said, "Get the damn plows out here on Dexter and Maple, I just got stuck and looked like a complete ass in front of everyone!"


Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 10:50 p.m.

Could we please get some coverage on what these snow storms are doing to road clearing budgets? Are the people griping about snow clearing prepared to cut a check to pay for more plowing/salt? We've got road crews and emergency services people out all night in these storms trying to help people stay safe. But about all they get is grief and budget cuts for it. So how much is budgeted, how fast does an overnight 8" snow storm eat up money, how many crews are out, and how long till they're in the red? I suspect the road clearing/repairs are where people are going to realize that governments are worth paying for.


Tue, Feb 22, 2011 : 12:03 a.m.

They've only had a handful of real snowstorms this winter. I think it's funny that they mobilized for the storm the other week but can't be bothered to plow now when we have even more snow. I kinda think this is AA's strategy to make us all welcome a city income tax.... I'm still not buying it. Based on my observation of plow folks today, maybe we just need more capable employees. Our taxes are higher than other cities that actually manage to plow their streets, as others have already pointed out.


Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 9:58 p.m.

Wow... yeah, this has been the WORST snow response from Ann Arbor I've seen all season. 5 pm and no neighborhoods even touched. Meanwhile, the only way you can get an average small car down our street is to push it. Meanwhile they're removing every last flake from the intersection of Earhart & Plymouth (I watched a truck there for no less than 10 minutes scraping all the shoulders), despite the fact that (a) everyone at Earhart & Plymouth right now already made it in through this morning's snow and presumably will make it back out after work and (b) it's about it snow again. I don't know about anyone else, but I resent that level of attention to detail (if that's actually what it was) when there's so much work still needing to be done. Can't we strike a happier balance between thoroughness and speed so that people can get out of their driveways?


Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 9:58 p.m.

Here inside the Packard- Industrial-Eisenhower-Stadium area there has been virtually no plowing as of 4:53PM. A few blocks of Pine Valley is about all I saw. .We just pushed someone out of a drift in the middle of King George which seems to have had no plowing whatsoever. State Street by Briarwood was pretty slushy just an hour ago Note that this is a Monday trash pickup area, so in theory it is supposed to be a priority for plowing. I bet downtown is plowed, though. Probably Burns Park, too.


Tue, Feb 22, 2011 : 4:41 a.m.

It's the Tuesday trash pickup neighborhoods that they started on first, not Monday.

Edward Vielmetti

Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 8:58 p.m.

Here's the KMZ (Google Earth) version of the plow routes: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>

Edward Vielmetti

Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 8:49 p.m.

From the snow plow page, it looks like 6 plow routes are working. In the Feb 2 storm, the tracker showed that there were 7 crews working by 9 a.m.


Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 9:03 p.m.

Is there only one crew per route? I don't know.

Lon Horwedel

Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 7:22 p.m.

@Todd, You're spot on. It's now past 2 p.m. and still most of the main arteries in Ann Arbor are clogged with hefty amounts of slushy snow. I picked up my son's friend at the Polo Field before noon and every road in Scio Twp. had been cleared. What gives? Why are we paying higher property taxes than anywhere else in Southeast Michigan. Why is gas 20 cents more in Ann Arbor than anywhere else in Michigan. What is the attraction? Maybe I should start marketing a new bumper sticker for A2. &quot;Ann Arbor - Wait twice as long, pay twice as much!&quot; On a lighter, slightly more ironic note, I saw an Ann Arbor police car stuck trying to get up the moderate incline at the Dexter Maple intersection by Aldi's. He had a Bobcat trying to clear a path for his cruiser (probably because he knew it might be until tomorrow before the road got plowed). Made me smile a little ... but just a little.

John B.

Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 10:02 p.m.

Scio Twp. is run quite efficiently, fwiw.... :-)

sun runner

Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 7:02 p.m.

I heard a snow plow go rumbling down my residential street in Chelsea around 3:15 this morning. I ended up with the standard wall o' snow at the foot of my driveway, but at least the road was clear. Chelsea seems to be on top of snow removal, though maybe I benefit from living downtown about a quarter-mile from the city's public works yard. I only wish clearing my driveway and sidewalk went as quickly. 2.5 hours of backbreaking manual labor were required to allow my car to reach the street.


Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 7:10 p.m.

It's good to hear some of our area governments realize that we live in Michigan.

John B.

Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 6:40 p.m.

To me, this seemed like the most difficult snowfall to remove (so far, this Winter) due to the depth, moisture content, and icy-ness. Either that, or I'm just getting tired of shoveling and snow-blowing at this point!

Edward Vielmetti

Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 6:32 p.m.

One of the things that always makes snow plowing a challenge is parked cars on streets, and some neighborhoods are going to be worse than others during a week when students in the public schools have vacation. Several city plow routes are marked as delayed because of abandoned cars.


Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 10:04 p.m.

Forever27 - exactly. Half the cars can't make it off the street at this point even if they wanted to because the snow's too deep for them to drive.


Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 6:39 p.m.

I just had to abandon my car because the city hasn't plowed. Luckily i was able to somewhat get it in a parking spot. The Old West Side has yet to be visited by the plows


Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 6:28 p.m.

Lots of commenters here are misunderstanding the city snow removal page information, here: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> The numbered neighborhood routes shown on that page are only started **AFTER** most or all of the main routes have been plowed. So they didn't &quot;start plowing at 6 am&quot; as several people claim. They started clearing the main routes long before that, and at 6 am gradually started putting some plows into some the neighborhoods. I confirmed this with a call to the city snow desk, and also urged them to edit the information on the page so that this is more clear. It's not an all-or-nothing switch from main routes to neighborhoods either. Sometimes they have to shift plows back on to the main routes if more clearing is needed. Finally, keep in mind that snow was still falling until after 5 am (at least at the airport weather station) and we continue to have strong winds that cause drifting snow, so that a main route that was plowed at 4 in the morning might have needed plowing again soon after.

John B.

Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 9:59 p.m.

@F27: But nobody will pay more taxes so they can buy them, and anyways, it really wouldn't make sense to have a bunch more (quite expensive) equipment that got used five times per year, but sat around (and had to be maintained, and eventually replaced) the other 360 days.


Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 8:37 p.m.

@epengar, so then the city should have more trucks...problem solved.


Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 8:26 p.m.

The roads SEEMED uncleared and I'm talking about Packard when I refer to &quot;roads.&quot; It did improve slightly, when heading westbound at Packard and Platt this morning, but it never got to the level of okay. I felt like the entire drive to work was driven on roads that had only been touched by other commuters. I was just glad, for my blood pressure, that the grade schools in Ann Arbor are on break this week. In typical fashion, the worst of the roads were the ones around campus and turning on to Thompson was a real joy today. I know what the policy is, I just don't ever see the main roads plowed for the morning commute. I just wish that the U would work WITH the city on this one. When the city DPW struggles to catch up with the snow fall, the U really ought to not endanger staff who have to drive in. The accidents and spin-outs on the roads make the commutes longer and the roads harder to clear. How much help would a two hour delay have made?


Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 8:20 p.m.

All this comparison to other nearby towns seems to need a little reality-check. The city of Ann Arbor is 5 to 10 times larger in population and in area than nearby towns, and has over 300 miles of roads to plow. That's 3 times as many miles as in any township in the county (except Ypsilanti Township, which has about 200 miles). I can't find mileage for nearby cities, but since they are all pretty much a tenth the size of Ann Arbor, I think similar conditions apply. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> I'm not saying the city couldn't do a better job. I'm saying that it may have a much bigger job than the places people are comparing it to.


Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 6:41 p.m.

That's all well and good. But i still have one question. How is it that every other municipality in this area is able to handle snowfall without incident when Ann Arbor comes to a grinding halt?

John B.

Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 6:37 p.m.

Precisely! Thanks, E.

Edward Vielmetti

Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 6:05 p.m.

In response to a question above, here's a link to the City of Ann Arbor snow plow policy page <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> from my earlier article on policies around the county: <a href=""></a>

John B.

Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 6:36 p.m.

Oops, make that 'tomorrow.'

John B.

Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 6:34 p.m.

@Forever27: The referenced A2 policy states that the City's goal is to clear everything (priorities 1, 2, and 3) at least once in the first 24 hours following the end of the storm. So by that, I guess you could figure that would occur by about 7 a.m. tommorow in this particular case. And they don't do it all in consecutive 1-2-3 order (necessarily).


Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 6:29 p.m.

well according to that corporate speak version of an answer from the city's website, they have spent the last 8 hours working on &quot;priority 1: main streets&quot;. How long does it take for them to finish those streets and get the the residential streets where TAXPAYERS live? The snow stopped hours ago and they have yet to even begin side streets. Although I did see 3 plows go down Washington within 5 minutes.


Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 6:21 p.m.

Thanks Edward, You're always good at following the commentary and giving additional information. Greatly appreciated.


Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 6:05 p.m.

ToddAustin: Thank you for summarizing the problem with the city of A2 plowing, or lack thereof. TO: Ann Arbor dot com, PLEASE follow-up and find out why the city didn't even START plowing until 6 am this morning although the snow stopped many hours earlier. I think everyone on this board needs to know why the city's snow removal is so inadequate, not just in this storm, but all of them. Just because there was no school today should not mean snow removal is not done in a timely manner. And no school today does not explain the inadequate plowing in the city during other snowfalls and storms this year.

John B.

Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 6:20 p.m.

Y'all should just move out to where the WCRC is in charge of plowing. They do a pretty good job of clearing the snow in a timely manner, imo....

Top Cat

Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 5:28 p.m.

St. Patrick's Day....please don't be late !


Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 5:02 p.m.

Because it is going to take three times as long to get into the city, twice as long to find parking, and five times as long to get my car out of the metered parking spot that wasn't cleared out by this morning

Ray kuo

Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 4:52 p.m.

My car was stuck in the central campus last night. When I ask the guy that clean the sidewalk to help me, he said he can't. I know it's not his responsibility, but at least, why U-M didn't clean the snow in time? We work for you but you let us trapped in the snow.

Bertha Venation

Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 3:48 p.m.

I see where we are supposed to get another storm starting @ 3:00 today (Monday) until noon tomorrow. Has anybody heard about how many more inches of snow we are supposed to get?


Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 4:48 p.m.

Not much, see forecast below from Weather Underground ( Today: Cloudy. Intermittent flurries during the morning...then a chance of light snow. Highs 23 to 27. Northeast winds 10 to 20 mph. Chance of snow 40 percent. Tonight: Light snow likely. Accumulations around an inch. Lows 8 to 12. Northeast winds 5 to 15 mph. Chance of snow 70 percent.


Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 3:31 p.m.

I second ToddAustin's thoughts on the priorities of the city. The lack of plowing is a very sad commentary. The city's own snow plowing schedule web site suggests that they did not even START the first neighborhoods until 6 am! Why were they not plowing all night like the other governmental entities?


Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 3:55 p.m.

what a joke! how can this city even consider itself functional when they fail at the simplest of tasks like plowing snow? According to that website, they waited 16 hours after it started snowing to begin clearing it. And we wonder why our roads are falling apart every spring...


Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 3:17 p.m.

This is the second time this winter that Ann Arbor has received a moderate amount of snow that ended quite a number of hours before sunrise. As with the first time, Ann Arbor authorities have chosen to not plow out the main arteries of the city before the morning rush hour. As soon as you enter the city limits, the roads became nearly impassible, with many inches of show and packed snow covering the roadway. The hill coming up Huron to Main Street was a veritable pinball machine of spinning and sliding cars bouncing off the edges of the roads, turned sideways, and just plain stopped. Surrounding communities seem to have no problem understanding that the main roads must be cleared by morning. Why does Ann Arbor's government not understand its responsibilities? Would please investigate and inform us of the city's snow-removal plans and the quality of their implementation? Again and again, they fall ludicrously short of what every other community in the area seems routinely able to do.


Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 6:34 p.m.

As of this writing, the CIty's Snow Plow Status page (<a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> indicates that they are still in the process of plowing the &quot;major roads&quot; and that none of the neighborhoods have been plowed. Does anyone know whether the city plow drivers are getting &quot;holiday pay&quot; for plowing on President's Day?


Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 3:25 p.m.

the city government and the county road commission bicker back and forth about which roads are the responsibility of which organization. The city is known to be cheap when it comes to paying the county and paying for their own streets to be cleared. They'll spend months debating whether we should have 15 or 16 marijuana dispensaries in the city, but can't seem to figure out that the snow needs to be plowed. I saw salt trucks out yesterday before it had started snowing, which i thought was a good sign. Apparently they didn't realize that a single round of salt wouldn't stop 9&quot; of snow.


Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 3:15 p.m.

My problem with this whole situation is that I really feel as though A2 road commission just decided that they were not going to plow or salt the roads because there was no public school. Which sucked as my bus was delayed and then got stuck. As a UMich Alum and an employee of the U, it also sucks that they expect us to work and go to school but they don't think it's important enough to clear the sidewalks.


Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 2:37 p.m.

I am always happy to know of the possibility of bad weather- snow, sleet, tornadoes, extreme heat - so I can be prepared for 'the worst.' I don't, however, actually want the worst to happen! Complaining about being too informed is a bit ridiculous. Two differences between this storm and the blizzard: 1) sheer size of the affected area, and 2) wind, or lack therof. Blizzards include high wind, but this storm didn't have much. Let's admit that we just like to complain about the weather, no matter who tells us about it!

John B.

Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 4:03 p.m.

+1 to that!


Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 2:45 p.m.

@wait.think, you hit the nail on the head. 6 months from now some people will be complaining about it being too hot and not enough rain.


Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 2:31 p.m.

I am reday for Spring!


Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 3:52 p.m.

Pawksatawni Phil vs the Michigan Groundhog. May the better rodent win. One said more winter and the other said less. So we shall see. Glad we had a taste of spring last week. Gets me thru this week. O by the way, heard there may be more snow coming?


Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 2:32 p.m.

That should be ready for Spring.

David Cahill

Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 2:07 p.m.

The weather people have been pretty accurate this season about whether or not there will be snow. But they have been wildly off about the amount of snow. The &quot;Great Blizzard was predicted locally to bring a foot of snow; we wound up with 5 inches. This time, the predicted amount was 3-5 inches. We got 8 inches. Maybe the weather services should admit that they are just engaged in wild guesses. Or maybe they should use a random number generator? 8-)


Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 10:41 p.m.

Really, Dave, that's beneath you. We were supposed to get some freezing rain, and the rain/snow boundary happened to stay a few miles south of us. They expected the snowpocalypse to do more, but the southerly's were a tad stronger than they thought and it didn't stall like they expected. You're asking an awful lot if you're really expecting them to know precisely where a front is going to stall. Do you really think you could do better? So why the cheap shot?


Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 4:36 p.m.

You do realize these are PREDICTIONS based on things beyond the meterologists control? If a storm moves another way that could not have been predicted. The reports they give are PROBABILITIES. That is what all the forecasts are. I make forecasts for daily sales in my business. I don't expect them to always be right. In fact, this snow, will destroy my number for today. I had expected $5000 sales, and it will more than likely end up around $2000. That is why it is called FORECAST. This whole blame the weatherman thing is just so boring. If you prefer we could live in a world where we predict weather based on how your achy joints feel.


Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 2:02 p.m.

I live on the Washtenaw/Lenawee Line. From about 5pm on, we got nothing but Sleet and Freezing Rain. It's is a mess down here! I would have much rather had all the snow!

Bacon Bits

Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 1:58 p.m.

If U-M is never going to take a snow day, can they at least clear the sidewalks? Most of central campus was covered in 9&quot; of snow this morning.

John B.

Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 9:54 p.m.

@TDK: That sounds like urban myth to me. The last time the U of M closed was in about 1977. It just (almost) never happens.


Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 7:42 p.m.

If I recall correctly, a number of years ago a student complained &amp; sued about class being canceled claiming that since they were paying for the education, the university owed them class. It seems that this school closing thing has swung too far towards crazy caution. Little Johnny might get the chills. Dress your kids appropriately and stop sueing school districts. Got to love lawyers.


Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 5:52 p.m.

The sidewalk in front of my building was kind of clear, but the walkway and steps to the front door hadn't been touched by 9:00 this a.m. Ridiculous.

John W

Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 5:12 p.m.

Actually, the only spots I walked through this morning that were clear were on University property. Now if only those road plows wouldn't pile giant drifts at each sidewalk crossing...


Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 2:04 p.m.

All the more exercise... :)


Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 2 p.m.

Their &quot;reason&quot; for not closing is pathetic too. Other schools don't seem to have a problem with &quot;providing necessary services to students&quot; when they close their campus.


Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 1:12 p.m.

You'd think after all these storms people would quit launching themselves off the road into ditches and trees, but no... I love the people who intentionally drive in the dead center of the road going 50 mph in the snow and won't slow down or move over for anyone else driving. Maybe if your precious tires can't handle cutting a new path through the snow on your own side of the yellow line, you shouldn't be flying down the road. Thanks for making my morning special.


Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 12:56 p.m.

DDOT: The &quot;blizzard of the century&quot; a few weeks ago was historic because it was a storm that traveled over 2100 miles, from Texas to Maine. The fact that Michigan didn't get a huge amount of snow didn't make the overall storm any less historic. Other parts of the country did get a historic amount of snow in that storm. The discussions on this board re: the historic storm in this area had more to do with whether schools would close, with some debate about how many inches would fall. School closings are not an issue today because of the winter break in A2 and the holiday for other districts. Some people with children in the A2 area are out of town and on vacation.


Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 12:18 p.m.

It's amazing how much less chatter there was about this storm than for the &quot;Blizzard of the Century&quot; that passed through a few weeks ago. Which storm was worse? My money is on the one my back will be screaming about shoveling in a few minutes. No worries, though. In a couple months, I'll have my spade in compost again, and all will be right with the world. ;-)


Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : noon

I don't know about anybody else but I would rather have the snow than ice. Ice can cause bigger problems. Of course it goes without saying I could live without either one. Hurry up Spring.


Mon, Feb 21, 2011 : 11:06 a.m.

Coming home last night I did see a salt/blade truck from Ypsi on Washtenaw. The roads were still bad and I'm sure not improved by now. I'm not going into work today, as I do not have a critical job.