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Posted on Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 8:10 a.m.

Icy roads lead to spinouts and crashes in Ann Arbor area

By Cindy Heflin

Editor's note: This article has been updated with information from the Washtenaw County Road Commission.

Icy conditions on secondary roads led to several spinouts and crashes in the Ann Arbor area Monday morning.

Most schools in the area canceled classes for the day because of packed snow and ice, mainly on secondary roads, left after last week’s snowfall and a weekend of melting and rain.

Emergency crews were responding to about five crashes on secondary roads about 7:30 a.m. Most were spinouts or slide-offs, a dispatcher with the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office said.

Rain on top of the densely packed snow on gravel roads in Washtenaw County has made those surfaces very treacherous, said Jim Harmon, director of operations for the Washtenaw County Road Commission. Drivers were called in at 4:30 a.m. Monday to begin scraping and sanding those roads, after responding overnight to a few individual instances where drivers needed assistance on icy roads, he said.

"The snow pack is very dense very bonded to the gravel surface," Harmon said. "There’s a limit to how much we can do to help."

Applying salt to gravel roads would cause the road surface to deteriorate and create a muddy mess, he said. Allowing the road to stay frozen as long as possible provides a much more stable surface for motorists.

Drivers had to put tire chains on their trucks to try to get some traction on the slippery roads, many of which are curvy and hilly, Harmon said. Of the 1,653 miles of county roads the Road Commission maintains, 760 are unpaved, he said.

The Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office sent out an advisory warning motorists of the icy conditions.

Although the temperature stood at a relatively warm 42 degrees at 7:30 a.m., less-than-pleasant weather conditions are on tap for the Ann Arbor area Monday. A wind advisory takes effect at 9 a.m. and runs until 10 p.m. Sustained winds of 25 to 30 mph are expected all day with gusts of 45 to 50 mph. Scattered power outages are possible and motorists could have difficulty driving.

The high winds will make it feel much colder than the air temperature, and temperatures will fall to near freezing by 5 p.m., the National Weather Service said.

Scattered rain showers are likely before 9 a.m. and then scattered snow showers after that.

High winds continue Monday night with gusts as high as 41 mph. An overnight low of 26 degrees is expected.

Tuesday will bring a mostly cloudy day with a chance of snow showers before 8 a.m. and a high of 33. Winds will be around 15 mph, gusting to 22.

Comments

JRW

Tue, Feb 12, 2013 : 12:48 a.m.

"The snow pack is very dense very bonded to the gravel surface," Harmon said. "There's a limit to how much we can do to help." "Applying salt to gravel roads would cause the road surface to deteriorate and create a muddy mess, he said. Allowing the road to stay frozen as long as possible provides a much more stable surface for motorists." More excuses......... Allow the road to stay frozen and close schools and everyone stay home!

Bertha Venation

Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 5:12 p.m.

Uh oh.... better get MAACO! (hmmmm... wonder if they work on Hoverounds?)

Bertha Venation

Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 7:11 p.m.

Swwwweet, TDW! WIth the way it looks now, (but w/the Hemi), I have to call it a "sleeper." :) The ol' lady needs a little bling thing

tdw

Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 6:23 p.m.

Not to worry there Bertha.I know some good 'boys in Ypsi that can make that thing look sweeeeet.Candy apple red with pearl flakes and 10 coats of clear coat....you name it !

treetowncartel

Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 3:32 p.m.

Where are all the closing school commenters?

Chimay

Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 6:15 p.m.

I was scratching my head about the school closure today. Then I looked out my front window at the two gravel driveways across the street and understood - they are a slick mess.

MRunner73

Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 5:37 p.m.

I don't mind commenting; those roads must be treated because temperatures will drop below freezing by early tonight and so those same roads will be in worse shape early tomorrow. Add a half an inch of snow over that, plan on more school closings Tuesday. Many residential streets (inn A2) I observered, that are paved were in poor shape and needed salt. School busses could have negotiated these roads but would have fallen behind schedule. The risk of harm to the students should have been low as long these bus drivers took it slow. I don't fault AAPS for closing today because most other Public school districts in Washtenaw county were also closed. I still think we've allowed the bar to lowered and that will only get worse.

DBH

Mon, Feb 11, 2013 : 5:26 p.m.

Perhaps they're resting their cramped fingers, hands and wrists after 124 (and counting) comments on the other article.