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Posted on Mon, Feb 27, 2012 : 12:42 p.m.

Freezing rain could make a mess of Ann Arbor-area commute Wednesday

By Cindy Heflin

Ann Arbor-area motorists may want to brace for a challenging commute Wednesday morning. A winter storm moving east across the Plains could coat roads and sidewalks with a thin layer of ice, the National Weather Service warns.

Although overnight ice accumulation is likely to amount to less than a tenth of an inch, that’s enough to cause havoc on the roads, said Matt Mosteiko, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in White Lake Township. “Even a trace of freezing drizzle is enough to cause problems,” he said.

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A low-pressure system could leave a layer of ice on area trees and power lines, as well as streets and sidewalks.

And it’s possible things could get really ugly. The government’s Hydrometeorological Prediction Center forecasts a 40 percent probability of a quarter inch of ice, he noted.

“A tenth of an inch is significant,” he said. “A quarter of an inch would be quite hazardous.”

That much ice could cause significant power outages as well.

Tuesday will start off innocently enough, with partly sunny skies and a high near 36. But Tuesday night, things start to fall apart with a chance of snow before 1 a.m., then freezing rain and sleet possibly mixed with snow. The chance of precipitation is 90 percent.

The freezing rain could continue into the morning hours Wednesday, Mosteiko said, but will begin mixing with rain and eventually change over to all rain by afternoon. Exactly what time that will happen is unclear, he said.

The cause of this messy weather is a large low-pressure system sitting over the Denver area, Mosteiko said. Warmer, moist air moving up from the Gulf of Mexico will meet that system and creating the wintry mix that will affect the area Tuesday night and Wednesday, he said.

For updated forecasts and weather conditions any time, visit's weather page.


David Cahill

Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 7:30 p.m. now says it's going to rain tonight and tomorrow. There is no longer any mention of ice. Come on, Post an update at the top of the article saying that ice is no longer forecast.


Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 5:07 p.m.

I have read many comments bashing meteorologists for "incorrectly" forecasting the amount of precipitation we will receive. I have also chose to keep my opinion to myself, until now.. Many of the individuals I have spoke to about this issue obtain their forecasts from sources such as The Weather Channel, Accuweather, etc. While these sites post the same watches and warnings as the National Weather Service, they fail to show the actual reports, leading up to said watches/warning, which indicate the level of uncertainty and forecast. Go to and read the Hazardous Weather Outlooks. These seem to be posted between 3-4 AM and PM, and even sometimes more frequently if there is a risk of hazardous weather. I honestly "stalk" the forecast and read every report that is issued. I can tell you that these reports usually change each time. Each time they indicate a different total and almost ALWAYS state that the storm track, precipitation totals, etc are uncertain and could change. This is true for last weeks lackluster storm. So did meteorologist's predict a major snow storm with 100% certainty and get it wrong, no. It's so easy to blame meteorologists for not being able to predict the intensity of a storm, but I don't hear anyone offering any tips on how to improve it...


Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 7:47 p.m.

You can not improve it. Weather is unpredicable as a science. We can only guess as to what and where and how much will happen. Just like driving in and out of rain....what the hey..... different areas get different things...hence its a forecast...just a best guess.


Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 1:47 p.m.

Yes Sallyxyz, Lets start pretreating today.


Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 11:38 a.m.

Hopefully the weather person is wrong again like they've been all season.


Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 4:55 a.m.

So, with two days notice, is there any excuse for not pre-treating the roads ahead of time? Oh, that's right. It has to snow 4"! Other cities tre-treat roads when ice storms are coming and it helps to greatly reduce the ice formation. It means being pro-active and professional......something we don't see a lot of in the city of AA and Cty Road Commission when it comes to winter road maintenance. How about being proactive instead of reactive?


Wed, Feb 29, 2012 : 3:01 p.m.

Got anymore "bright" ideas that would be a complete waste of time and money?


Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 6:38 p.m.

Liquid salt, that's a new one... So the county should be out salting now?


Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 5:49 p.m.

Should have known that SallyXYZ would be on here bashing the Road Commission already before anything even started. If anything even happens. I agree with Johnson48racing. SallyXYZ, what expert knowledge can you give the Road Commission to make your life so much easier????


Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 5:27 p.m.

I don't know about highways, but the U-M crew were already putting that liquid salt (whatever it's really called) on all the sidewalks. I'm assuming they were doing it proactively since the sidewalks were clear of ice and snow this morning.


Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 3:45 p.m.

Please explain how you pretreat the highways? And with what?


Mon, Feb 27, 2012 : 11:51 p.m.

I think that weather forecasters should be called Weather Guessers.


Mon, Feb 27, 2012 : 10:53 p.m.

The Sky is Falling!!! The Sky is Falling!!! Careful! Rain-maggedon is on its way -- you MIGHT GET WET.... You have been warned.


Mon, Feb 27, 2012 : 10:15 p.m.

Maybe the Washtenaw County Road Commission can make use of the huge glut of salt they surely must have stockpiled from this non-winter we've had and actually be proactive in dealing with the impending ice storm.

say it plain

Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 4:28 a.m.

lol @justcurious, but now that you've said *that*.... I'm sure there's nothing that salt can do to melt ice, though, not at, um, those temperatures. or something.


Mon, Feb 27, 2012 : 10:24 p.m.

You said it, I didn't.


Mon, Feb 27, 2012 : 9:17 p.m.

Just slow down out there please. My family members are on the road too.


Mon, Feb 27, 2012 : 8:46 p.m.

Could be a mess...... OR NOT!

David Cahill

Mon, Feb 27, 2012 : 7:59 p.m.

Here we go again.


Mon, Feb 27, 2012 : 7:56 p.m.

I heard the radio newspeople warning about the impending storm. They talked about how we could "survive" it, and from their frantic tone, it sounded like there was a risk that the entire universe could be destroyed. Just have to hope for the best, I suppose...

say it plain

Mon, Feb 27, 2012 : 7:07 p.m.

I for one find little fun in mocking the poor weather forecasters lol... They have an awful job, trying to predict what is inherently very very changeable in ways that are so 'dynamic', good word @Roaring_Chicken, that we regular non-meteorologist/scientist human just has a hard time wrapping our heads around! And we humans also have these cognitive biases whereby we are deeply struck by when the forecasters are *wrong*, but can't recall so well all the times they get it (at least close to) right. Thankless. No coincident I think that Bill Murray played one so well in GroundHog Day :-) I hope they're wrong about Wednesday, and I hope that if they are gasp! right for once, that AAPS lets us get a 'snow day'--unconventional yes but we have some to burn!

say it plain

Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 4:27 a.m.

Lol, are you implying that you expect better predictions for 90K a head on average?! I'm guessing the high salaries are because of the (relatively, we are science scaredy-cats in the US and all) high entry requirements for the profession, like the ability to read data and all. Now, I presume the people writing the modeling algorithms make even more, and dammit they're not apparently just not earning it :-)!


Mon, Feb 27, 2012 : 10:12 p.m.

The median salary for a meteorlogist in the U.S. is over $90,000 (in the A2 area it's even higher). Yeah, maybe we shouldn't poke fun at people just trying to do their job. But I just can't call it thankless. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>

say it plain

Mon, Feb 27, 2012 : 7:08 p.m.

yikes, sorry for all the typos in that... why oh why won't allow an edit feature?!


Mon, Feb 27, 2012 : 7:05 p.m.

Start idling your cars to create more C02 so that &quot;Green House&quot; gases warm the planet and we can avert this Ice Storm!


Mon, Feb 27, 2012 : 7:26 p.m.

I see you posting these idiotic statements on every article dealing with the weather. If you still don't understand (or aren't willing to admit) that global warming (climate changes) causes more extreme weather during all seasons, and not just warmer weather all around, I would highly recommend looking into the subject and doing your own research. It has been proven time and time again that the climate is getting more extreme. While we cannot agree (yet, even though it's pretty obvious) it's all man-made, it's hard to ignore the facts.


Mon, Feb 27, 2012 : 6:45 p.m.

Weather forecasters only stay in business so that fortune tellers can look reliable.


Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 2:46 a.m.

So, what say ye crystal ball?


Mon, Feb 27, 2012 : 6:42 p.m.

Here's from the NWS White Lake current forecast page for Ann Arbor: &quot;Tuesday Night: A chance of snow before 1am, then freezing rain and sleet, possibly mixed with snow. Low around 29. East southeast wind between 8 and 14 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New ice accumulation of less than a 0.1 of an inch possible. New snow and sleet accumulation of less than one inch possible. Wednesday: Rain or freezing rain, becoming all rain after 1pm. High near 48. East wind 10 to 13 mph becoming south. Chance of precipitation is 90%. Little or no ice accumulation expected. &quot; As systems move closer and other factors come into play, the forecast will change. Weather is dynamic. For those of you &quot;playing along at home&quot;: <a href="" rel='nofollow'>;state=MI&amp;site=DTX&amp;lat=42.2754&amp;lon=-83.7308</a>


Mon, Feb 27, 2012 : 6 p.m.

Uh, after their last prediction, let's not cry Wolf!


Tue, Feb 28, 2012 : 1:19 p.m.

no kidding, my kids were in tears that morning at the lack of snow! (and the fact that there was school)

Jake C

Mon, Feb 27, 2012 : 10:20 p.m.

And, just because one weather forecast wasn't as severe as the maximum predicted, let's not ignore a potential major driving hazard.